Pre-tourney cruise continues for Sabres duo

With the World Junior Championship looming, let's cruise through some of the press hits on Sabres prospects Zack Kassian and Marcus Foligno. The towering 2009 picks, who each have a goal through two exhibition contests, are currently skating together Canada's top line centered by talented 2011 draft stud Sean Couturier of the QMJHL's Drummondville Voltigeurs.

The Canadian Press reports on Foligno's recent upswing and the opportunity to win gold in Buffalo.

Foligno understands some time developing in the American Hockey League is likely in his future, as is plenty of more work in the weight room. The strength of NHLers really made an impression on him during camp with the Sabres.

"In the OHL you go into a corner, take the body on a guy, to protect the puck you stick out your butt and they can't reach around you," said Foligno. "When you get into the NHL, I kind of took it for granted, I went into a corner with a smaller defenceman and he pushed me around and took the puck out, so I was like, 'OK, I've got to take another view of how I'm going to control the puck and get stronger.'"

The one thing for certain with Foligno is that his effort won't be questioned.

Earlier in the week, NHL Network caught up with Foligno after Canada's exhibition win over Switzerland. He briefly describes his role as a physical forechecker.

In an TSN interview, Foligno addresses Canada's two-way depth and goal scoring ability.

With Foligno getting some well-earned media attention, Zack Kassian is also seeing his name featured in a positive light after a trying 2009-10. A recent Calgary Herald piece details the "controlled aggression" he has used to make him one of the more dangerous scorers in junior hockey.

Kassian was one of the best players on the ice during Canada's pre-tournament exhibition game against Sweden on Tuesday night.

He used his size, strength and deceptive speed to charge the net early in the second period, drawing a holding penalty on the play to give Canada a two-man advantage.

He scored moments later.

"I think he's learned to be the prototypical 'pro' winger," said Hockey Canada head scout Kevin Prendergast.

"He's got soft hands, he can score. He goes to the net, he can fight and he's got all the ingredients that every NHL team is looking for in a winger."

Another good Kassian quote was served by the Windsor Star's Jim Parker on the topic of playing for the enemy in front of Sabres fans.

"Buffalo fans can watch me play and get a feel for how I play," said Kassian, who isn't sure if his physical style will make him a villain. "I don't know. I'll let them decide. There's a lot of big guys here that are physical."

Kassian feels the Canadians will gel as a team and be ready for the task of repaying the Americans for their win on Canadian soil a year ago.

"I think there's solid chemistry," Kassian said. "It's a great task for Canada. You're in the U.S. and they'll be ramped up."

So Sabres fans - what are you expecting?

Will Kassian's disciplined ways continue in an emotionally charged environment?

Can Foligno's grit lead to a big goal for Canada?

Who wins the tournament?

Enjoy the games...
Next Post »