For the second straight night the Buffalo Sabres fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs, this time 3-2. Kyle Okposo and Jeff Skinner scored for the Sabres, who fall to 2-2 on the preseason.
Five observations from Saturday’s loss:
It didn’t take long for Sam Reinhart to make his presence felt in his preseason debut. From basically the start of the game, Reinhart was generating chances and sending perfect passes to his teammates.
In the first period he was rewarded for his early efforts, picking up an assist on Kyle Okposo’s goal. What the score sheet won’t show was that Reinhart was standing in front of the net, screening Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen, helping Okposo’s shot find the back of the net.
With only seconds remaining in the middle frame, Reinhart made a nice move towards the net that once again led to a goal. This time it was Jeff Skinner following up on the play, giving Reinhart [and Eichel] their second assists of the evening.
Overall it was a great debut for Reinhart who looked like the red hot player from the second half of last season. In my opinion, he was the Sabres best player.
Keeping them together
And while we’re at it — just keep the Skinner - Eichel - Reinhart line together. After giving Tage Thompson a well deserved look on the top line to start the game, Sabres head coach Phil Housley moved Reinhart to the top trio in the second period. From that point on they were the Sabres most effective line. Barring a surprise, I’d bet these tree are on a line together when the puck drops against the Bruins on October 4th.
Rasmus Dahlin is going to make mistakes and that’s okay. That was evident in the first period with two bad turnovers that led to great scoring chances for Toronto. The first was when he tried to send a saucer pass out of the zone past Auston Matthews. It didn’t work and the Maple Leafs quickly had an odd-man rush.
Later in the period, Dahlin tried to deke Patrick Marleau at the blue line. Marleau poked the puck away from Dahlin’s stick and went in all alone on Carter Hutton. Luckily for Dahlin and the Sabres, Hutton was exceptional in the first period.
There will be growing pains but it’s better to work out the kinks in the preseason rather than in two weeks.
Tyler Ennis got saucy in the middle frame, sending a perfect cross-ice saucer pass to a streaking Auston Matthews. To say it’s weird seeing Ennis in a Toronto sweater would be an understatement. But after a disaster season with Minnesota last year, perhaps he’ll be able to make an impact with Toronto if he’s given an expanded role.
Not so fast
Like many of you, I didn’t like Johan Larsson’s chances of making the opening night lineup. While it still might be an uphill battle with added depth on the roster, Larsson had a solid night playing mainly a third line role. He was physical, solid defensively and even chipped in on offense. His best play came in the second period when he broke up an easy Toronto goal from just outside the crease. With a few more preseason games left, Larsson could really help himself with another performance like we saw on Saturday.