Jan 8, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Buffalo Sabres defensemen Nikita Zadorov (51) looks on before the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Hurricanes defeated the Sabres 5-2. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
1. Nikita Zadorov Is Great — Even with Nate Guenin
Nikita Zadorov was the main piece in the trade that sent Ryan O’Reilly to the Buffalo Sabres on draft day. When he started the season on the third pairing, there was a surprising amount of frustrated people that thought the Avalanche didn’t get a goo-enough return. Three games later, there is no doubt that Big Z has all the tools to become a great top-four defenseman.
Zadorov with Nick Holden in Game 1 worked extremely well. Zadorov with Tyson Barrie in Games 2 and 3? Just as much. Against the Ducks, Zadorov spent the majority of the night paired with Nate Guenin — and, get ready — even that worked out.
Was it because of Guenin’s awesome play? Ha! Of course not. As our former editor Austin Manak (now writer for BSN Denver) put it:
That’s exactly what happened. Guenin was out there being Guenin, but Zadorov had it all under control, leaving the opposing attackers no chance. Now, that doesn’t mean Zadorov-Guenin is a good idea. Guenin belongs in the press box or AHL. But it’s good to know that we finally have someone in the lineup who can deal with Guenin as his partner. Also, Zadorov is second in Avalanche ice time with a total of 71:03 through four games.
Zadorov — Gormley next game? I vote yes.
Next: Nick Holden? Also Great!