Game 3: Changes on the fly
The Sabres were quick to alter the lineup after dropping their first two games, scratching Victor Olofsson for Tyson Jost and coming away with a 3-2 overtime win against division rival Tampa Bay.
BUFFALO — The beginning of the NHL season is such a tricky dance to choreograph. Teams aren’t square with their systems, players are still getting into full game shape and working on getting the pacing down, and goalies are trying to get their own games settled while everything in front of them is in some kind of shambles.
It’s what makes the head coach’s job so difficult. Any coach would love to have their lineup stick together as long as possible and let them work the kinks out and get into a rhythm that carries them deep into the season.
That’s the hope, anyway. But sometimes the team starts 0-2-0 and there are distinct issues at play that need to be addressed. Such was the case for the Sabres. The hard luck they had losing to the Rangers in the season opener was followed by a much better performance that went unrewarded on Long Island and was befouled by bad luck and iffy judgments by officials. These things happen, but as far as things under their control went, they had distinct problems with a pair of their scoring lines.
The trio of JJ Peterka-Dylan Cozens-Victor Olofsson struggled terribly and that trickled down into the Zemgus Girgensons-Peyton Krebs-Kyle Okposo trio as well. Olofsson reverted back to the form we saw for a lot of last season, and that caused the line to struggle. The Girgensons-Krebs-Okposo line wasn’t able to turn the tide with their energy in either game even though Krebs, by the eye test, performed very well.
That combo led to these line changes against Tampa Bay on Tuesday:
JJ Peterka—Dylan Cozens—Peyton Krebs
Zemgus Girgensons—Tyson Jost—Kyle Okposo
With Olofsson back in the press box for a night, the fans got their wish and with Krebs back on the wing (mostly) and splitting handedness on faceoffs with Cozens, the fans also got their line wish as well.
Ultimately, the Sabres got their first win of the season 3-2 in overtime thanks to Dylan Cozens’ scorcher past old friend Jonas Johansson. There was an injury scare with Mattias Samuelsson who left after one shift in the third period, but Don Granato said he’s day-to-day and didn’t seem so concerned about it. It wasn’t a game lacking in drama, but how did it work out with the line changes? Let’s chew on the extreme small sample sizes and try to digest it all.
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