Craig Anderson will start tonight. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Don Granato wants Sabres to be true to identity: ‘A lot of potential there’

BUFFALO – A lot has changed since the Sabres last faced the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 31, 2019.

There was a global pandemic. The Sabres changed regimes, plummeted to the bottom of the NHL again and hired a new coach. The Lightning, meanwhile, won two Stanley Cups.

The Lightning, the Sabres’ Atlantic Division rival, have become the NHL’s bellwether franchise.

If the Sabres want to go anywhere, they have to knock off the Lightning.... Read the full article

Buffalo is John Hayden’s fourth NHL team. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres excited to see John Hayden’s gritty presence for first time

BUFFALO – In his four full NHL seasons, Sabres winger John Hayden has never played more than 54 games, meaning he’s used to sitting for a week.

During the Sabres’ 3-0 start, Hayden, 26, has served as the extra forward, quietly preparing for an opportunity coach Don Granato said would come.

With center Cody Eakin injured, Hayden will be making his season debut tonight against the Boston Bruins at KeyBank Center.... Read the full article

Cody Eakin has enjoyed a strong start this season. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres lose Cody Eakin to injury; Mattias Samuelsson nearing return

BUFFALO – Sabres center Cody Eakin, who crashed feet-first into the net during Wednesday’s practice, will miss at least the next two games, coach Don Granato said Thursday.

Following games tonight against the Boston Bruins and Saturday versus the New Jersey Devils, Granato said Eakin will be day-to-day. The Sabres also play Monday and next Thursday.

“What we’re gauging is probably the later game,” Granato said of Thursday’s road contest against the Anaheim Ducks.... Read the full article

Buffalo claimed Drake Caggiula off waivers last season. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres notes: Drake Caggiula focused on showcasing offensive side

BUFFALO – As Sabres winger Drake Caggiula dropped down the lineup, his confidence in his offensive abilities nearly vanished.

Caggiula, 27, began his NHL career skating on scoring lines and the power play. Having just finished a dynamic college career, he was regarded as an offensive threat.

“I’ve always been an offensive player, all the way up until I got to the NHL,” Caggiula said prior to Tuesday’s 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks at ... 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

JJ Peterka stayed in Buffalo until the end of training camp. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres prospect JJ Peterka has ‘tremendous opportunity’ with Amerks

BUFFALO – After Don Granato told prospect JJ Peterka the Sabres would be assigning him to the Rochester Americans, the coach stopped center Casey Mittelstadt in the hallway and asked him about his 36-game stint in the AHL.

Granato wanted to learn more about Mittelstadt’s surprising demotion two years ago, which turned out to be a turning point in his career.

“He had a half smirk, half smile on his face,” Granato said following Monday’s ... Read the full article

JJ Peterka scored three goals in five preseason games. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres prospect JJ Peterka makes strong case to stick in NHL

BUFFALO – If the Sabres assign rookie JJ Peterka to the minors this week, his stint with the Rochester Americans could be short. The German arrived here last month nearly an NHL-ready prospect, having spent two seasons playing pro hockey against men.

Sabres coach Don Granato has watched Peterka, who scored in Saturday afternoon’s 3-1 preseason win over the Detroit Red Wings, acclimate quickly to North American hockey.

“He absorbs what’s in front of him, ... Read the full article

John Hayden played for three teams before joining Buffalo. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

John Hayden hoping ‘Swiss Army Knife’ style helps him crack Sabres’ lineup

BUFFALO – Over the past three seasons, winger John Hayden bounced around the NHL, playing for the Chicago Blackhawks, New Jersey Devils and Arizona Coyotes before signing a one-year, two-way contract with the Sabres.

Hayden, 26, has usually served as a fourth-liner or an extra forward, never playing more than 54 games in a season. Still, he has stayed put in the NHL. Other than a 37-game stint in 2017-18, his first full pro season, ... Read the full article