Don Granato knows the level of play will improve around the NHL. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Don Granato knows stiff challenges await Sabres

BUFFALO – Coach Don Granato understands in the big picture, the Sabres’ strong start means little. Sure, it’s nice to begin the season 2-0 at home. But they have 80 games left, starting with tonight’s contest against the Vancouver Canucks at KeyBank Center.

Early-season hockey often lacks structure as teams struggle to grasp their systems. In the coming weeks, the level of play will rise significantly.

“It was really nice to start at home and ... Read the full article

Cody Eakin scores his second-period goal Saturday afternoon. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres win again, starting to establish identity: ‘We are harder to play against’

BUFFALO – Forget about the Sabres’ 2-0 record. Any NHL team can win two consecutive games, especially at home.

The identity the Sabres have started to establish within those games under coach Don Granato is the important part. So far, they’re playing an up-tempo, tenacious brand of hockey.

It proves those victories could be a harbinger.

“We are harder to play against,” Sabres center Cody Eakin said after scoring a power-play goal in Saturday afternoon’s ... Read the full article

Casey Mittelstadt began the season as Buffalo’s No. 1 center. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres lose Casey Mittelstadt, Henri Jokiharju to injuries: ‘Not short-term’

BUFFALO – The Sabres’ opening night 5-1 opening-night win proved to be costly. Top center Casey Mittelstadt and first-pair defenseman Henri Jokiharju will both be sidelined at least two weeks after suffering injuries, coach Don Granato said.

Mittelstadt suffered an upper-body injury when Brendan Gallagher hectored him after he intercepted a pass halfway through Thursday’s game. After going to the dressing room, Mittelstadt briefly returned to the bench before leaving the contest.

Granato said Jokiharju ... Read the full article

Arttu Ruotsalainen was regular late last season in Buffalo. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres notes: Arttu Ruotsalainen sits out opener; Rene Robert honored

BUFFALO – For Thursday’s season opener, the Sabres had three extras, scratching forwards Arttu Ruotsalainen and John Hayden and defenseman Will Butcher.

In Ruotsalainen, they sat out one their most intriguing young forwards. The Finn, 23, enjoyed regular duty over the final month last season, compiling five goals and six points in 17 games.

In Butcher, they sat out one their higher-profile offseason acquisitions. The American, 26, compiled 74 points over his first two ... Read the full article

Buffalo goalie Craig Anderson made his NHL debut in 2002-03. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

At 40, Sabres goalie Craig Anderson earns remarkable achievement

BUFFALO – Nine months ago, as Craig Anderson’s 40th birthday approached, it appeared his long career could be over. Eventually, the veteran goalie parlayed a tryout with the Washington Capitals into a one-year contract.

Still, Anderson was their third netminder, spending most of the season on the taxi squad and playing just six games, including two playoff appearances.

Tonight, Anderson will be the Sabres’ opening night starter against the Montreal Canadiens, a remarkable late-career ... Read the full article

Zemgus Girgensons is beginning his ninth season. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres coach Don Granato excited to name new alternate captains

BUFFALO – In naming wingers Zemgus Girgensons and Kyle Okposo alternate captains, coach Don Granato did more than choose the Sabres’ longest-tenured players.

Granato wanted two veterans who possess the ability to make everyone around them better.

“They’re confident within their role in the NHL,” Granato said following Tuesday’s practice inside KeyBank Center. “I mean, what’s coming at them, they have a great sense of objective, and because of that, their confidence. And they have ... Read the full article

Buffalo rookie J-J Peterka scored in his preseason debut. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres’ J-J Peterka, Linus Weissbach earn chance in veteran lineup

BUFFALO – Tonight’s lineup resembles one the Sabres could use during the regular season. At least 16 of the 20 players will likely be on the opening night roster.

But among all the established talent the Sabres will dress, three rookies – goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and wingers J-J Peterka and Linus Weissbach – earned a spot.

Sabres coach Don Granato said Luukkonen, 22, will start tonight and play the entire preseason game against the Columbus ... Read the full article

Mark Pysyk spent his first four NHL seasons in Buffalo. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Mark Pysyk enjoying return to Sabres: ‘Going to be a fun team to watch’

BUFFALO – Sometimes, Mark Pysyk said, it seems like he only left the Sabres a week ago. Other times, however, he acknowledged it feels like it has been a long time.

The Sabres, who signed a one-year, $900,000 contract to return, left in 2016. Only one teammate from the affable defenseman’s first run here, center Zemgus Girgensons, is still with the team.

“I see him walking around, the way he plays, his body takes a ... Read the full article

Will Butcher could enjoy a leading role in Buffalo. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres’ Will Butcher has special chance to reignite sputtering career

BUFFALO – Adrenaline and excitement buoyed defenseman Will Butcher through his season debut. In his first outing in nearly five months, the Sabres ran the newcomer ragged, skating him more than 28 minutes.

While Butcher, 26, said he felt fine during Tuesday’s 5-4 shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, the heavy workload caught up with him later.

“Yeah, it was a lot of minutes,” Butcher said following Wednesday’s sessions of training camp inside KeyBank ... Read the full article

Jack Quinn will play right wing tonight. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres to utilize line of Dylan Cozens, J-J Peterka and Jack Quinn

BUFFALO – In a year or two, after  wingers J-J Peterka and Jack Quinn acclimate to pro hockey, they could flank center Dylan Cozens on the Sabres’ No. 1 trio.

But right now, the intriguing line is simply an experiment for tonight’s preseason opener in Columbus against the Blue Jackets. Instead of putting the talented youngsters beside veterans, Sabres coach Don Granato wants them to learn on their own.

While Cozens, 20, played 41 NHL ... Read the full article