Buffalo Sabres need to keep their new-look top line together

Taylor Hall #4, Sam Reinhart #23 and Jack Eichel #9 of the Buffalo Sabres. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Taylor Hall #4, Sam Reinhart #23 and Jack Eichel #9 of the Buffalo Sabres. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) /

Don’t fix what isn’t broken applies to the Buffalo Sabres right now.

After dropping the first two games of the 2020-21 NHL Season to the Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres Head Coach Ralph Krueger opted to shake things up for his team’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday by bumping up winger Sam Reinhart to the top line with Taylor Hall and Jack Eichel.

And it worked absolute wonders. The dynamic trio combined for six points in a 6-1 mauling of the Philadelphia Flyers, while Hall and Eichel also collected assists on a Victor Olofsson power play goal. It was just the spark this offense needed and it not only delivered the Sabres their first win of the season, but it also consigned Philadelphia to their worst loss on home ice under Alain Vigneault.

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Having scored a combined total of five goals in two games against the Capitals, this kind of offensive outburst was just what the doctor ordered for Buffalo and a lot of it boiled down to the elite play of that explosive top line, which shouldn’t be broken up for any reason other than injury.

There is an unwritten rule in the NHL that you shouldn’t go top heavy in your lineup but, in this instance, Krueger was absolutely right to replace Tage Thompson with Reinhart on the top line, with the latter’s natural style of play more suited to the way Hall and Eichel play the game.

The three instantly meshed against the Flyers, wreaking havoc from the first drop of the puck and emerging as easily the best line on the ice all night. In other words, they were simply unstoppable and that trio will provide a matchup nightmare for every other team in the stacked East Division.

Buffalo Sabres need to keep Hall-Eichel-Reinhart together

I mean, some of the high-level plays made just left your jaw on the ground, including this sublime pass from Hall through the crease and across to Reinhart who was all on his own at the back door and he did the rest by sending a one-timer past Carter Hart.

However, Reinhart’s second goal was arguably better and it also showcased the considerable strengths of each player on that top line, from Hall’s awareness and strength to battle along the boards and dig the puck out to Eichel who displayed tremendous reach to force the puck to Reinhart, who quickly switched the puck to his forehand before firing it over Hart.

It was a stunning play and it just highlighted how clever both Hall and Eichel are as hockey players, while it has always been abundantly clear that Reinhart boasts a clinical touch in the offensive zone, and now he has two players who can feed him the puck in real high-danger areas.

Even Hall and Eichel’s already lethal and telepathic understanding was on full display for Buffalo’s last goal of the night as they performed a game of tic-tac-toe before the puck reached Olofsson who did the rest, and it is no surprise that both Hall and Eichel are sitting on six points already this season.

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Facing the Philadelphia Flyers again tonight, who will no doubt be out for revenge, the Buffalo Sabres should absolutely stick with their new-look top line because, on Monday’s evidence, the elite trio of Taylor Hall, Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart have the ability to be able to dominate and just take over games, and they could be the spark to help Buffalo get on a real roll here and start making some real noise in a very, very competitive East Division.