Monday, May 22, 2017

O'Reilly leads Team Canada to win over Russia. Antipin ready to ink?

Published by, 5-20-2017

Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly scored the game-winning goal and added a primary assist on an empty-netter in helping Team Canada rally for a 4-2 victory over Team Russia at the IIHF World Championships in Cologne, Germany. Much like he did in Buffalo, O'Reilly was a workhorse for the Canadians as he skated 21:21 which was second only to defenseman Colton Parayko (STL.) He was recognized as the Player of the Game for Team Canada.

O'Reilly has eight points (5+3) in nine game for the tournament and will have the opportunity to add to that as Team Canada will face off against the winner of today's Sweden-Finland matchup for the right to play for the gold medal.

Meanwhile, Russian defenseman Viktor Antipin, whom the Sabres are said to be signing very soon, will play in tomorrow's bronze medal game against the loser of Sweden-Finland. The 5'9" 176 lb. Antipin left the Canada/Russia matchup with a plus-1 rating and one shot on goal. For the tournament Antipin has three assists in nine games and has a plus-4 rating.

Antipin's name has been associated with the Sabres for weeks now with's Aivis Kalnins tweeting yesterday that "Antipin and Sabres talked recently and nothing has changed, expect him to sign with the Sabres." That the Antipin signing was still moving in that direction was confirmed when Russian hockey writer Igor Eronko talked with hosts Howard Simon and Jeremy White on WGR550 Radio yesterday.

"I heard this months ago that [Antipin's] definitely leaving [the KHL]," Eronko told the hosts. "I can confirm that he will sign exactly with Buffalo."

The hosts were curious as to why Antipin chose Buffalo and, as Sabres fans know, there was an obvious reason. "Because there's a place for him," he said. "The Sabres don't have the best defense in the NHL, obviously, and they have a spot for a guy like him." He continued on giving us a little insight into the player that is Viktor Antipin. "He's small in stature but very strong on the puck. [He's] a good puck-moving defensemen and that's exactly what may be needed for Buffalo in the top-four.

"He's wins a lot of battles, he plays penalty kill and powerplay and in all key situations he's on the ice. He's a defenseman that's quite reliable."

Anyone who's had the opportunity to watch Russia in this tournament can see that their transition game is top-notch and their defense is very active. Antipin is definitely of that ilk and oft-times one can find him in the slot in the offensive zone.

On the negative side, Eronko thinks Antipin will need to add speed and strength.

If all works out, perhaps sometime early next week we will have Antipin's signature on a Sabres contract which constitutes a step in the right direction for the team as they try to fix a broken defense-corps.

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