Sabres' youngsters show speed and skill against Pittsburgh

Rasmus Dahlin shook off the early nerves

Paul Hamilton
September 18, 2018 - 11:51 pm

Photo: Kevin Hoffman - USA TODAY Sports

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - It was obvious that Rasmus Dahlin was nervous in his first game in front of the Buffalo fans. In his second shift, there was an opportunity to jump into the play. I saw him look, but he didn’t do it. Just a few minutes later, Dahlin had his stick lifted by former Sabre Derek Grant and was lucky the puck rolled back to goalie Carter Hutton.

Dahlin settled down after that and used the vision that he’s so good at. He’s aware of everything on the ice because he’s never looking down at the puck. His passes were quick and normally on the tape.

Dahlin was on the No. 1 power play and used his shot a few times, but also he liked looking for Jack Eichel in the left wing circle for the one-timer.

Vladimir Sobotka’s first game as a Sabre was between two young players trying to earn a spot on the team. C.J. Smith was Buffalo’s best player for the first two periods and Justin Bailey wasn’t far behind.

Neither kid got on the scoreboard, but little plays were noticeable. Early on, Smith got his stick in the lane causing a turnover. He immediately found Bailey who used his speed to get in alone on Casey DeSmith.

Later, Smith used a real shifty move to set up Sobotka for a great chance. I liked Smith a lot in last year’s training camp and after becoming an AHL All-Star, his first game in this preseason was just as good.

Bailey best play didn’t come on offense. It came on defense when he used every ounce of that speed to get back into position to break up a 2-on-1. Phil Housley noticed and being noticed is what gets you on the final 23-man roster. With Conor Sheary out for awhile injured, there is room for one of these kids to make the team. After two games, Smith, Bailey and Alex Nylander have called dibs.

Sobotka had a goal and an assist in his first game since coming over from St. Louis. The two players that came with him also had points in their first games. Patrik Berglund had a goal in Columbus, while Tage Thompson had two assists. Hutton stopped all 14 shots he faced in 40 minutes of work.

Lawrence Pilut had a very poor Prospects Tournament and I wondered if he struggled with the smaller ice surface. Pilut played very well on Tuesday. One thing I noticed were three consecutive passes that were right in stride and on the tape. He wasn’t as overmatched in his defensive zone either.

Rasmus Asplund was a guy you might not have noticed, unless you were looking for the little things that wins you games. The things like making sure he’s the first guy back, but still not afraid to try to produce offense.

The Penguins had a watered down lineup and scored two late goals on Scott Wedgewood that both went in off of legs. Housley was upset with how his team handled some of those situations, but as of now, some roster decisions have been made very difficult.

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