Sabres' Pekar is making a name for himself

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Photo credit Photo courtesy of @BuffaloSabres
By WGR 550 SportsRadio
Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Matej Pekar hadn't played a game in seven months when the Prospects Challenge started. On Friday you could tell Pekar was rusty, but in Saturday’s 4-3 win over Boston, the Sabres' 2018 fourth round pick was stellar.

The injury he suffered last season is 100%, and the winger scored two second period goals to extend Buffalo’s lead to 4-1. Pekar had some fun out there, “I have to say I liked that game a lot. My teammates helped me out a lot, they were great and my linemates were going, they were winning every single battle.”

What I liked about Pekar’s game was he’s strong on his stick. Kyle Olson gave him a perfect pass, even thought Pekar was covered, but he used his strength to fight through it and win the battle. It was the same when Lukas Rousek found him for his second goal. Going to the net hard, that's Pekar's game.

Pekar acknowledged that he didn’t like his game against New Jersey, despite getting into a lively fight, “Yesterday, I was just trying my best, but honestly it wasn’t my best game and I knew I had way more in me, so I just tried to clear my head of that game and bring a totally different game to this one.”

The part of Pekar’s game that everybody knows is he gets under the opponent's skin. He’s always yapping and always in scrums, and by the time the third period rolls around, he has half the other team chasing him around the rink. I asked him what he does to make the other team angry and he said with a big grin, “I don’t know, I’m cute? I honestly don’t know, I’m just trying to get the W any way possible.

“I think it’s the best feeling ever to be honest. It’s great when I go on the ice and the other guys are giving me the looks and saying something to my face, I’m like 'Great, I’m in their head' so I can focus on my game now and if their thoughts in the back of their minds is that they're going to get hit or something’s going to happen, it’s easier to get the pucks.”

The fans already love this kid and the overflowing crowds were cheering everything he did both nights, “This city is great, it’s unbelievable, I’ve never seen this before and if I would be loved by the city, it’s even better. I enjoy being here and I’m just trying to give back to the people. The support we get here is unbelievable.”

Now the down side to Pekar’s game. After scoring the two goals, he took things too far and got two penalties. The second penalty led to a Bruins power play goal and allowed them to get back into the game. Pekar knows that’s unacceptable, “Definitely, you’re right about that, I have to do what’s best for my team. I have to think about the team first, not just trying to get into their heads.”

Kyle Olson has a goal and two assists in the two games. He is an invitee that Anaheim drafted in the fourth round of the 2017 draft, but didn’t sign him. Last season in Tri-City of the WHL, Olson scored 21 goals and 49 assists for 70 points. If nothing else, he’s had to have perked up some interest to sign him in Rochester.

Olson is not only gifted offensively, but he’s very noticeable in his defensive zone play too. In Game 1, he played wing and in Game 2, he played center.

Will Borgen has progressed so much in just one season of pro hockey. He has been the best defenseman on any of the three teams I’ve seen so far. He also seems to be trying to pinch more and add some offense to his game.

Victor Olofsson scored again with a laser one-timer from the circle. The kid has two goals and two assists in two games and is dominating like he should.

Big Brett Murray stuck out against Boston. He’s looking for a chance to be signed by Rochester after being drafted by the Sabres in the fourth round of the 2016 draft.

The one thing I’ve noticed is Jason Botterill is drafting guys who go to the net. There’s been a lot of that in two games so far and it’s the biggest reason Buffalo has won both games.

Chris Taylor can’t be happy with in the third periods. The Sabres have out-scored the opponent 10-2 in the first 40 minutes, but have been outscored 5-0 in the third period.

Buffalo can win the tournament with a victory over Pittsburgh on Monday. Join me and Brayton Wilson for the call at 12:30 on ESPN 1520.


The standings as of Sunday:

Buffalo         2-0      10 GF    7 GA

Boston          1-1      7 GF      7 GA

Pittsburgh     1-1      5 GF      5 GA

New Jersey   0-2      5 GF      8 GA