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Kris Baker looks at Buffalo's key performers in the Traverse City championship game

Tuesday, 09.10.2013 / 4:22 PM / News
By Kris Baker  - SabresProspects.com
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Kris Baker looks at Buffalo\'s key performers in the Traverse City championship game including Rasmus Ristolainen and Nathan Lieuwen.

The Buffalo Sabres gave it their best Monday night, but were outgunned by the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 in the championship game of the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich.

Despite the defeat, some notable performances were turned in by the prospects on the eve of the veterans reporting for the main portion of training camp.

Nathan Lieuwen
Despite the final score, the lanky stopper posted another solid performance in the Traverse City title tilt. Lieuwen finished with 36 saves, including many from point-blank range that kept the Sabres in the game through the first two periods of play. His glove hand was quick to spear pucks out of mid-air, while his movement in the crease continues to show improvement entering the key middle year of his entry-level contract.

Colin Jacobs
Jacobs maintained his success at the faceoff circle while playing with a sense of urgency all game long. He partnered with Logan Nelson and Peter Trainor to play an up-tempo, physical style that saw the latter draw two penalties as the Sabres forced their way back into the game. The WHL product picked up an assist on the team’s second goal, giving him a point in each of the Sabres’ four games to give him momentum heading into his first season at the professional level.

Rasmus Ristolainen
The top defender in blue and gold all tourney long, Ristolainen again stood out with his crisp execution and ability to regularly win one-on-one battles in the defensive zone. The Finnish standout was a workhorse all game, logging top power play and penalty killing duties while being charged to play shutdown even-strength minutes. He is still just 18, but if Traverse City was any indication, Ristolainen is on course to be a regular NHL contributor sooner rather than later.

Zemgus Girgensons
Perhaps the Sabres most consistent forward through the four games, Girgensons left it all on the ice shift after shift. The Latvian lead the way as the team abandoned its dump-and-chase strategy, using his straight-line power to get to the net and apply heat along the boards. He was unable to notch a point when the team needed it most, but there’s little question that Girgensons has himself in position to make a serious push for NHL duty when the Sabres open training camp.

Joel Armia
Right from the morning skate, it was clear that Armia had extra jump in his step. That energy transferred over for the full 60 minutes Monday evening, with the skilled shooter tying Ristolainen with a team-high four shots on goal while showing more command with the puck and a higher level of determination in the later stages. A brief ramp-up is to be expected when adjusting to the speed of the North American game, but despite not recording a point in the four-game stanza, Armia showed the skill that should see him get on track quickly out of camp.

Logan Nelson
The Minnesota native completed the tournament by showing good hustle while playing right wing on a line with Jacobs and Peter Trainor. The valuable energy provided by Nelson not only saw him draw two penalties, but also lead to him being elevated into a penalty killing role as the game progressed. Nelson finished the game with one assist, but the praise earned from the Sabres coaching staff afterward was more for his solid all-around effort.

Jerome Gauthier-Leduc
He began the tournament watching from the stands, but Gauthier-Leduc capped off the week by playing big minutes for a second-straight game thanks to an upper-body injury to the team’s captain, Chad Ruhwedel. The offensive-minded defender looked good carrying the puck, using some nice little moves to navigate the neutral zone, while picking his spots wisely to get jump up for scoring opportunities. The Sabres’ best chance of the opening frame came when Gauthier-Leduc took a pass from Armia and walked in all alone, only to miss the net with a high-rising wrist shot.

Nikita Zadorov
Zadorov closed his stay in Traverse City with a bang, consistently showing his upper-body strength by pushing guys hard into the boards while mixing in a couple of thundering hip checks. His simple offensive game was a bit muffled in the finale, but Zadorov was still able to follow the play deep into the offensive zone at times with the Sabres activating their rearguards in hopes of sustaining pressure late in the third period.




1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52


C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82