Sabres come out flying in front of a full Harborcenter

September 7, 2019
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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - This is going to be short because it’s hard to notice the little things about players when you’re calling the game, but there still were players I did like in the Sabres 6-4 win over New Jersey in Game 1 of the Prospects Challenge.

New defenseman Henri Jokiharju came as advertised. The 20-year-old played 38 games in Chicago last season and 30 games in Rockford. I thought he was excellent against the Devils and not just because he had two assists.

There were only a couple of shifts I didn’t like him on, but he is so quick and accurate in leading his team out of the zone. It took 30 seconds for the Sabres to get on the board and it was all because of Jokiharju. He anticipated the Devils pass and jumped up and into the right circle. He knocked the puck down and quickly got it to the net where Kyle Olson scored on the second rebound.

Later on a power play he found Dylan Cozens in the right circle and this year’s No. 1 pick ripped the shot home to make the score 5-0. Cozens easily outplayed the first overall pick in Jack Hughes. Hughes did score, but it was a gift giveaway up the slot.

Cozens showed his speed throughout the game which led to some pretty good scoring opportunities.

The best two players should be the best two players in Victor Olofsson and Rasmus Asplund. Olofsson had a goal and two assists while Asplund had two assists and was forcing play all over the ice. He did have the turnover on the Hughes goal, but his good play overcame that bad one.

It seemed like the two of them along with Andrew Oglevie where always coming hard through the neutral zone and getting pucks in and starting a cycle. Olofsson had many opportunities and easily could’ve had four goals. Oglevie scored right under the crossbar and an excellent play by Olofsson. He was off balance in the neutral zone and still was able to sweep the puck up the Oglevie to send him in.

Matej Pekar was his usual self which means the Devils were chasing him around the ice trying to kill him. You couldn’t have shoehorned one more person into Harborcenter for this game and those patrons went wild when Pekar fought Michael Vukojevic and took him down despite being quite a bit smaller.

I’ve seen Jonas Johansson for three years and this year I see big improvement in goal. He seems very calm in his crease and very confident in his positioning. In the first two periods Johansson stopped 26-of-27 shots.

Will Borgen was solid like he always is and even jumped into the play which produced a goal. There was one play where Borgen was going to make a big hit on a Devils forward who just froze and gave the puck away.

Buffalo faces Boston on Saturday. The Bruins beat Pittsburgh 4-3 on a very late goal. Join me, Brian Koziol and Brayton Wilson for all the action starting at 7:00.