The Sabres haven't had enough production from their so-called top players, but their rookies did play well in the first four playoff games and will be better down the road. The experience is certain to accelerate their development and will make them better next season.
Defenseman Tyler Myers, a finalist for rookie of the year, was shaky at the start before picking up his game. Tyler Ennis was terrific down the stretch, looked overwhelmed at times in the playoffs but picked up his game in Game Four. Tim Kennedy bounced back from getting checked off the puck in Game Three and scored in Game Four.
"It's hard to learn from your mistakes," Kennedy said. "We're getting better with the more experience we've had, and that helps. We're dealing with a little adversity right now. It's not the time you want to be dealing with it -- in the playoffs -- but it makes you stronger in the end."
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff and veteran winger Mike Grier both agreed that the rookies will be better off no matter what happens in the series.
"I think it's been a great experience for them," Grier said. "(Ennis) has played great. He was one of our better players last game and has great composure. It's only going to help these guys grow and develop. (Myers), it's the same way. He's played in high-pressure situations out there. It's only going to help their development and give them confidence to grow as players over the summer and into next year.
"Timmy has been solid all year long. He's not someone that I've worried about all year long. He's pretty consistent. He's a great competitor. I knew the playoffs would fit his style of game. He'll take the experience, but he's a natural competitor."
--- Bucky Gleason