Bandits postgame: Tavares, defense shine as Bandits overpower Knighthawks

Just another day at the office for John Tavares. In two games the ageless wonder has sixteen points (6+10) for the 2-0 Bandits.

Tavares’ latest show came at Blue Cross Arena where he put up a four-goal, four-assist clinic against Buffalo’s I-90 rivals. Buffalo won the contest 12-9 after pulling away thanks to a late 7-1 run. It was a well-executed win for the Bandits who were able to keep the Knighthawks from running wild. Avoiding a run-and-gun game was key for the Bandits.

Just like in week one, the offense made the plays, but defensively, the Bandits were stellar. Mike Thompson made 31 saves on 40 shots, backing up a stellar performance from the week before. Buffalo’s defense held the young Rochester scorers in check. Only Cody Jamieson (three) and Stephen Keogh (two) scored more than once and the offense that produced 22 goals the week before didn’t break double digits against the stingy Buffalo defense.

Darris Kilgour’s deep bench flexed their muscles again this week. Roger Vyse – who was a healthy scratch last week – had a pair of goals and an assist while Mark Steehuis and Chad Clup each scored a pair too. Luke Wiles looks more and more like a brilliant acquisition. He added six more points (2+4) to his efforts from week one (3+1 vs. Toronto).

The Bandits face Philadelphia and Minnesota on a back-to-back weekend beginning this Friday. Buffalo has the opportunity to build their East Division lead, but both opponents represent a stiff challenge for the Bandits.

  • Jeremy Thompson looks to be paying dividends early in his career. He had his first multi-point game (0+2) against Rochester and is 16/21 on faceoffs this season. Thompson’s two-way skillset makes him an effective weapon for the Bandits. Brandon Francis is a capable faceoff man, but his offensive upside is limited. If Thompson’s production continues on offense at the X, expect Kilgour to take advantage by dressing more offensive players while utilizing Thompson as his primary faceoff player.
  • Mike Thompson won’t likely get a second-straight Defensive Player of the Week nod, but it seem fairly obvious that he is on top of his game as this season begins. There is a chance he gets a rest this weekend with back-to-back games. If Angus Goodleaf gets a start, expect it to be in Minnesota on Saturday.
  • Mark Steenhuis began the 2009 season with a handful of massively impressive performances. He hasn’t found to scoring touch that carried him to the top of the league leaders, but it would appear his two-way responsibilities will allow him to be a strong role player in terms of scoring. He may not play the perfect complement to Tavares as he has in the past, but it may not be necessary.
  • The new faces are making Derek Graham and Darris Kilgour look brilliant. Luke Wiles is second on the team with 10 points (5+5) while Kevin Buchanan (2+3) and Mat Giles (2+2) have been equally effective. With eight players capable of scoring on a regular clip, the Bandits offense will be difficult to contain this season.
  • Roger Vyse was a healthy scratch in week one. He had a strong performance in week two and should be in the lineup from here on out. With Jeremy Thompson showing dominance at the X, Kilgour has the luxury of dressing one more forward (or defenseman) each week.
  • It seems as if Jon Harasym is the one keeping Tom Montour in the press box. Perhaps Montour is suffering from an undisclosed injury, but it would seem as if Harasym’s steady play has something to do with the move too. Harasym has 10 looseballs through two games and appears to be an effective piece of the Buffalo transition game. Don’t forget, Mark Steenhuis is getting plenty of floor time in a full two-way role.

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