Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – The Buffalo Sabres held their training camp "Blue and Gold" scrimmage on Saturday at Harborcenter. It was a two-period affair, and Gold won by a score of 3-1.
The lines for this scrimmage were all mixed up with young players playing with veterans. Rasmus Asplund centered a Swedish line with Victor Olofsson and Isak Rosen. Filip Cederqvist also worked in, at times.
The best line of the day was Matt Savoie centering Casey Mittelstadt and Kyle Okposo. They spent most of their time in the offensive zone, making plays and forechecking, which helped lead to Gold’s first goal.
Before Okposo scored, Eric Comrie flew across his crease to make the save of the day on Cederqvist, who looked like he had a layup goal. The line stayed on it, and Cederqvist set up Okposo for the lead.
As the period wore on, the line was hard on pucks and caused three turnovers in the offensive zone. That led to Okposo setting up Mittelstadt in front for a great chance.
In the second period, Savoie pulled away from the defense, which allowed him to set up Okposo for another good chance.
It was obvious that Owen Power was going to be in constant motion. He’s almost like a rover, but he rarely gets caught out of position.
Right after Alex Tuch hit the post for the Blue team, it was Power turning an innocent rush into an outnumbered rush. He found Jeff Skinner, who found Jiri Kulich in the right circle, who immediately slid the puck Tage Thompson in the left circle. He beat Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen for Blue’s only goal.
Luukkonen stopped seven out of eight shots, while Craig Anderson made some good saves, especially on a Skinner breakaway. Anderson stopped all eight pucks he saw.
Comrie left after the first period with 10 saves on 11 shots. Malcolm Subban let in two goals on the eight shots he faced.
Gold’s other two goals came from Oskari Laaksonen, who cleaned up a shot that Olofsson fanned on, and Dylan Cozens on a bullet shot from in front that went right under the crossbar. JJ Peterka got the assist on some good work in the zone causing a turnover.
The teams played five minutes of 3-on-3, and Rasmus Dahlin made an unbelievable move to undress Skinner and finished with an unbelievable shot that beat Subban far-side.
I can tell you in the first two days of training camp, the players worked and competed hard. Cozens says it was nice to have the change of pace from Saturday.
“We all want to play games, so we got those quick practices out of the way and right into games, and we’re all happy to do that," said Cozens. "It’s crazy how quick the camp feels already, and there’s a preseason game [Sunday].”
Zemgus Girgensons lives in Pittsburgh during the offseason, and he gets a chance to skate with a lot of the Pittsburgh Penguins and others from around the NHL. He says talking to other players, the Sabres are starting to get much more respect around the league.
“It’s not just the players I’ve talked to, other team's coaches that I know and a lot of people said that they felt they were a bit in trouble when they played us,” said Girgensons.
The Sabres finished the final 28 games last season on a 103-point pace. Girgensons is, of course, happy with that, but he’s far from satisfied.
“Team success is all that matters to me," he said. "Being around here for as long as I’ve been, to have the team succeed would be the one thing that I want. We finished last year on a good note, but at the end of the day, that’s still not where we want to be.
“It’s a fresh year, and we have different expectations about where we want to be.”
The Sabres open the preseason on Sunday in Washington. Join me and Brian Koziol at 1 p.m. ET for the pregame on The Bet 1520.
Gold: Okposo (Cederqvist, Dahlin)
Gold: Laaksonen (Olofsson, Asplund)
Gold: Cozens (Peterka)
Blue: Thompson (Kulich, Skinner)
Rosen – Asplund – Olofsson (Cederqvist)
Mittelstadt – Savoie – Okposo
Kisakov – Cozens – Peterka
Sheahan – Biro – Hinostroza
Skinner – Thompson – Kulich
Quinn – Krebs – Tuch
Murray – Kozak – Rousek
Weissbach – Girgensons – Bjork (Mersch)
Dahlin – Lyubushkin
Davies – Priske
Bryson – Laaksonen
Lindgren - Komarov
Samuelsson – Jokiharkju
Power – Clague
Pilut - Fitzgerald
***Photo: Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres)