9/27 Recap: Kennedy makes case

The Sabres ended their exhausting preseason Sunday night with a 7-6 win over Toronto. With some players having their spots locked up, Tim Kennedy, Nathan Gerbe, Tyler Myers, and Mike Weber made their final auditions before the team decides on the opening day battle roster. Kennedy (+2) showed the most value on the night, executing well defensively while doing good things with the puck in the Leafs end. Centering Clarke MacArthur and Jason Pominville, the Buffalo native snapped home a MacArthur back pass and added a nice assist in 16:44 of action for his best performance in a Sabres sweater. Gerbe (-1) rounded out his strong weekend by netting a goal for the second straight night and earning a helper on Matt Ellis' game winner. Gerbe played just under 14:00 in the win. As of now, it's hard to say what's going to happen with the two second-year guys. Kennedy's ability to make plays from the pivot make him a good flexible option, but he'll need to improve on faceoffs to solidify his NHL standing. Gerbe demonstrated the ability to zip in and out of space and finish plays while going hard every shift. On the blueline, Myers continued his ramp-up towards earning a spot this season with excellent skating and steady defensive posture. There was one particular play that I didn't like, where Matt Stajan escaped his cluthces behind the net and sent a pass to the front for a Nikolai Kulemin tally. Playing the man, Myers was unsuccessful in rubbing Stajan off the puck, but that's a play where his long stick (that I'm always talking about) could have been more effective in stopping the throw to the front. Weber, who has been plagued by turnovers for most of the preseason, made some nice defensive plays early before mixing in a few giveaways. His aggressive nature will be a welcome element to the blueline, but perhaps a start on the farm will reset his puck focus and propel him into better decisions. There will be more on this as the week progresses. In New Hampshire, Portland defeated Manchester 5-1 to move to 1-1 on the pre-season. Felix Schutz, Paul Byron, T. J. Brennan, and Derek Whitmore were among the Pirates scorers. Dennis Persson had three assists, while Tyler Ennis contributed a pair of helpers. Jhonas Enroth made 34 saves for the win. Also on Sunday, Marcus Foligno (+1) assisted on the game-tying goal midway through the third period as Sudbury went on to defeat Oshawa in overtime, 4-3. Foligno, who clicked on a line with overager Daniel Lombardi, continues to give teams trouble down low and has shown marked all-around improvement over last season. Jacob Lagacé finished a nasty -5 as Chicoutimi was steamrolled by Lewiston, 7-1. Jordon Southorn was even with two shots on goal as PEI edged Gatineau, 2-1.
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