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

Christian Wolanin talks to the media Monday. ©2021, Olean Times Herald

Christian Wolanin thrilled to come to Buffalo, join Sabres: ‘It’s a hockey town’

BUFFALO – Barely two years ago, Sabres newcomer Christian Wolanin figured more NHL success would follow his standout rookie season. After morphing into a dominant AHL defenseman, he forced his way up to Ottawa, becoming one of the Senators’ regulars.

Then Wolanin tore his labrum preparing for training camp in 2019 and underwent surgery. The injury sidelined him until early March. Days after he returned, the COVID-19 pandemic ended the Senators’ season.

Last year, the ... 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

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

Don Granato knows the value of an early goal. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres notes: Don Granato plans to play fast-paced, exciting hockey

BUFFALO – Historically, NHL teams that score first or hold the lead at the end of the first period go on to win the game.

The Sabres won only 15 of their 56 games last season, finishing dead last. Still, when they opened the scoring, they compiled a strong 8-6-5 record. When they led after 20 minutes, they went 4-3-4.

Sabres coach Don Granato brought up the value of an early goal or lead Wednesday ... 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

Victor Olofsson might be a first-liner for Buffalo. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres to dress lineup with established talent against Penguins

BUFFALO – Ten Sabres – much of their established talent – will be making their preseason debut tonight at KeyBank Center.

So some of the line combinations and defense pairings the Sabres will be showcasing against the Pittsburgh Penguins could be utilized in the regular season.

Top center Casey Mittelstadt pivoted Jeff Skinner and Victor Olofsson this morning. On defense, Rasmus Dahlin skated beside Henri Jokiharju, his partner late last season.

Coach Don Granato said ... Read the full article

©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres notes: Why did Victor Olofsson change his number again?

BUFFALO – Three years into his NHL career, Sabres winger Victor Olofsson is already sporting his third number.

The Swede recently switched to No. 71 after having No. 68 for two seasons. He also briefly wore No. 41 for his first six NHL games late in the 2018-19 season.

Why did Olofsson pick new digits? When he broke into the NHL, No. 71, one of his favorite numbers, was worn by Evan Rodrigues, a forward ... Read the full article

Zemgus Girgensons is the longest-tenured Sabre. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Zemgus Girgensons excited to be back, believes Sabres’ rebuild can work

BUFFALO – Over the years, Zemgus Girgensons grew close to Rasmus Ristolainen and Sam Reinhart, two of his many ex-Sabres teammates.

Girgensons and Ristolainen joined the NHL together as teenage rookies in 2013. Reinhart arrived two years later.

Before the Sabres traded them in July, they became a part of Girgensons’ everyday life. In his first days back at the rink this season, he still expects to see them.

“I walk around and I think ... Read the full article