5 Sabres training camp observations: Day 2

Posted at 4:07 PM, Sep 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-24 16:07:16-04

Saturday the Buffalo Sabres were on the ice for the second day of training camp at HarborCenter. There were three on ice sessions and one scrimmage.

Here's 5 observations from Day 2:

1) Cole Schneider is on fire

Friday, Schneider scored three goals in the Sabres first scrimmage of training camp, leading the Blue team to a 5-0 win against the Gold team. He was all over the ice and joked after practice that he needed to keep that production up. Saturday, he didn’t disappoint and the the hot streak continued. Schneider had another goal and added an assist, once again leading the Blue team to a 2-1 victory, this time over the white team. Schneider hasn’t been playing against the opponents top pair defenseman but regardless, he has looked sharp. Saturday Sabres Head Coach Dan Bylsma said that Schneider could’ve had another goal and has looked really solid. The Sabres second year coach also said that Schneider’s lineman Derek Grant was one of his three stars from Saturday’s practice and that "both those guys have been standouts in both scrimmages."

2) Hop aboard the Jake McCabe bandwagon

With about 20 minutes left in the final session of Saturday’s practice Jake McCabe showed he’s for real. He was paired one-on-one against Justin Bailey and flattened him against the boards. One minute later, he did it again. Only Hudson Fasching was able to get by McCabe during the drill and he didn’t even get off a quality shot. Friday, McCabe said he’s going into this camp focused on making strides as a team, not as an individual. He told reporters that last year he didn’t think he had a very good training camp because he was so worried about making the team. Now, he’s one of the Sabres best defenseman and during the first few practices he’s certainly looked like it. Balsam said it’s evident after the first few days how good McCabe has looked and that he’s been one of their best players.

3) Let’s get physical

It only took a day for the hitting to really start picking up. It was especially apparent during the scrimmage and Bylsma loved it. “I liked every part of it. I liked us at the net and I liked our guys protecting the net.”  He’s referring to a scuffle in front of Anders Nilsson featuring Nicholas Deslauriers, surprise surprise. As the players started heading back to the bench you could tell they were laughing — but even after that skirmish the physicality continued. Veteran defenseman Zach Bogosian had some nice clean hits behind the net, as did fellow vet Josh Gorges.

4) Up for grabs

Yesterday Bylsma said there's a few roster spots open and they’ll be won during training camp and the preseason. Saturday, he spoke more in detail about the open competition saying “I think there’s five or six guys you could probably put into that category.” The Sabres coach was asked specifically about Grant and Schneider -and I think those five or six guys Bylsma’s talking about (along with Grant and Schneider) are Fasching, Bailey, Nylander and Baptiste. After a strong Prospects Challenge, Baptiste had another nice scrimmage Saturday, scoring the White team’s only goal. Nylander had a solid two-way game and Bylsma said along with Grant and Gorges he was one of the team's three best players on Saturday. Fasching and Bailey have yet to stand out since camp has opened up — but there’s still plenty of time for the young forwards to make an impression.

5) Chemistry for days

This quote pretty much says it all:
“I don’t think you can compare this year to last year,” Bylsma said. “The understanding of how we want to play and what we’re expecting from the players is significantly higher now than it was last year at this time.”

It’s obvious that this team has more chemistry than they did last training camp — and it’s because this roster is pretty similar to the roster last season. That might sound like a bad thing, but it’s not. Aside from Kulikov and Okposo, most of these guys have played with each other. If the chemistry continues to grow and the Sabres stay healthy, Sabres fans have a reason to be optimistic.

The Sabres are back on the ice at 9 a.m. on Sunday for Day three of training camp at HarborCenter. The practices are open to the public.

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