Sabres' Cozens shines in Toronto

This year’s No. 1 pick will play Saturday too

Paul Hamilton
September 21, 2019 - 1:49 am

Photo: John E. Sokolowski - USA TODAY Sports

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Toronto, ON (WGR 550) - The Sabres lost in Toronto 3-0, but the young lineup hung in there with the likes of Auston Matthews and William Nylander.

June's first round pick Dylan Cozens was Buffalo’s top player in this one and it happened right off the hop.

Early on, Cozens won a battle behind the Toronto net and forced Freddie Andersen into two beautiful saves. He didn’t stop there. Cozens worked hard to get the puck back and set up Arttu Ruotsalainen in front. The rookie fumble with the puck and never got a shot off.

Other plays from my notes:

  • Cozens controlled a rush and found Henri Jokiharju streaking down the slot.
  • Cozens and Zach Redmond worked a great give-and-go, which Redmond missed down the slot.
  • It doesn’t always have to be tape-to-tape. Cozens came through the neutral zone with speed and made a pass off the wall that sent in Conor Sheary who missed the net.
  • Cozens' best chance to score came when he entered the zone with the puck and cut through the slot, but Andersen stopped him.

The one negative is faceoffs. He won just 1-of-11 draws. Cozens really has a long ways to go when it comes to that.

Tage Thompson was Buffalo’s best player at Penn State and he wasn’t bad in Toronto. He was in tight a couple of times, but Andersen stood his ground. He seems to be producing scoring chances every time he plays

The surprise of the night for me was Vladimir Sobotka. That was, by far, the best game he has had in a Buffalo sweater. Too bad it was an exhibition game.

There was one play along the wall where he out battled three Leafs and found Thompson with a perfect pass for a scoring chance. He was superb in the faceoff circle, winning 14-of-19 draws.

Linus Ullmark was strong in his 40 minutes of work, making 21 saves on 23 shots. He absolutely robbed Nylander twice and Matthews once.

Casey Mittelstadt was slightly better than he was in Columbus, but in my mind, it may be getting to the point where he should start the season in Rochester. Cozens has out-played him by a wide margin both in games and in practice.

Jokiharju seemed to really lose confidence as the game went on. He turned the puck over a lot and lost coverage.

The same two teams will play on Saturday, but in Buffalo. Players like Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner, Sam Reinhart, Rasmus Dahlin and Rasmus Ristolainen will play.

Join me and Brian Koziol for the pre-game starting at 6:45.

Here is the roster below:

  • Jeff Skinner
  • Jack Eichel
  • Sam Reinhart
  • Jimmy Vesey
  • Victor Olofsson
  • Marcus Johansson
  • Dylan Cozens
  • Arttu Ruotsalainen
  • Curtis Lazar
  • C.J. Smith
  • Evan Rodrigues
  • Rasmus Asplund
  • Rasmus Ristolainen
  • Rasmus Dahlin
  • Henri Jokiharju
  • Marco Scandella
  • Colin Miller
  • Casey Nelson
  • Carter Hutton
  • Jonas Johansson
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