Sabres' Beaulieu trying to show that he can be better than last season

There were things to like and dislike against Montreal

Paul Hamilton
November 08, 2018 - 9:44 pm

Photo: Eric Bolte - USA TODAY Sports

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Montreal, QC (WGR 550) - Nate Beaulieu didn’t have a good first season as a Buffalo Sabre. There were way too many turnovers, and he never was a big part of the offense like he thought he could be. After it was over, Beaulieu wanted to make sure the whole experience burned at his sole, “I really let it eat me up right away, I wanted it to burn a little bit, I had really never had an experience like that, so now, you can’t go back and change it, it’s written in stone and you just can’t let it define you.”

The Sabres were over .500 in October for the first time in seven years. Beaulieu said, “I think just being ready, I don’t think we were ready last year and we shot ourselves in the foot pretty early, so I knew how important the start was going to be.”

Beaulieu has changed nothing in his game, it was his mindset, “It was mental, I believe in myself, I’m a talented player, I can skate, so it’s my fifth year in the league and being mentally prepared for the ups and downs of the season.

“Personally, I like where my game’s going, I think it’s trending in the right direction and I just want to continue playing the type of hockey that I was brought here to play.”

Beaulieu missed seven out of eight games between being injured and being a healthy scratch. The defenseman thinks he’s ready to get back in against Montreal, “It’s good, I don’t have to look for much motivation tonight being an ex-Canadien.”

Beaulieu has played better this season, so he wasn’t out because of his play. It’s been a numbers thing so I wondered if that made it easier, “I thought of that in my head a couple of times and I came to the conclusion that it’s never easy, so the biggest thing for me was to stay ready in practice.”

In a wild first period on Thursday, six goals were scored. On Montreal’s first goal, Beaulieu pinched and got burned. I had two problems with the pinch: 1.) If you’re going to do it, you must be tight and you can’t allow Jordie Benn’s pass to get by you and 2.) More important than No. 1 is you have to be sure a forward is out at the blue line to help. There was no forward there, so a defenseman has to read that and not pinch.

On the good side, Beaulieu went storming into the zone along with Vladimir Sobotka. Evan Rodrigues got the puck to the front of the net and it was Sobotka who poked home his second of the game with Beaulieu right there with his teammate.

It was an up and down game for Beaulieu. He did a nice job of getting involved in the offensive zone, but had a few hiccups at the other end including youngster Jesperi Kotkaniemi undressing him and forcing Linus Ullmark into a big save.

If Beaulieu is going to be good, he must be active like that in the offensive zone and be a little more aware defensively, but he’s definitely better than last year.

In the third period, Beaulieu was involved in a key penalty kill and made three nice plays including a diving play to knock one puck away.

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