After the Buffalo Sabres dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning last night, Ryan Miller, who served as Buffalo's backup goaltender, walked by Jamie McBain, flashed a smile, shook his hand and appeared to offer a congratulatory message.
Miller wasn't celebrating a loss, but instead, was acknowledging McBain's performance, particularly on the power play. McBain earned his first two points (1 G, 1 A) as a member of the Sabres and had a third point called back on a strange penalty. Nonetheless, McBain's efforts on the power play is already being noticed by his teammates.
"I think he brings a calming presence," Cody Hodgson said after the game. "He doesn't rush things and he makes the play when it's there. He's got a great shot and has good vision and is a pleasure to play with."
Before last night's game, the Sabres had failed to score on the power play, but it wasn't due to a lack of chances. Buffalo went 0-for-13 on the power play in the first three games of the season. McBain's ability to get a shot through from the point has been an asset for him and is something he can contribute to the team.
"That's one of my strengths that I feel I can contribute to this team and contribute to the power play," McBain said. "Each and every practice I've worked on kind of changing the angle on my shots or reading what the defenders are doing, and obviously the forwards are doing a great job of giving me outlets with their sticks too."
The Sabres have needed someone to quarterback their power play for a few years now. One could argue that they haven't had someone to take on that role since Tim Connolly, before he ran into his major injury issues. Sabres head coach Ron Rolston is also impressed with McBain's ability on the power play.
"He shoots and it goes in. It just goes in," Rolston said of McBain. "One of the reasons he's out there is he's got poise. Even running it at the top, he's got a lot of poise. Just holding onto it and making the play that needs to be made up there. And I think that's part of his shooting too. He's got the poise to hold it and find the hole to put it through. He's done that for us like three times already."
The Sabres will need McBain to continue his production on the power play. Henrik Tallinder has been placed on injured reserve, giving McBain a chance to solidify his spot on Buffalo's roster, after being listed as Buffalo's seventh defenseman and a healthy scratch during the first two games.
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