BUFFALO – Seven wins in their first nine games have positioned the upstart Sabres among the NHL’s early-season elite.
Right now, having already earned 15 points, they’re tied for first overall and rank first in the Eastern Conference entering tonight’s game against the San Jose Sharks.
Few expected the Sabres, who earned just 16 points over their final 33 outings as they imploded last season, would turn things around so quickly.
The offseason additions – ... Read the full article
The Buffalo Sabres assigned top goalie prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to the Rochester Americans today, another step in his recovery from offseason hip surgery.
Sabres general manager Jason Botterill said last month he hopes Luukkonen can start playing games in early November. The Finn spent the early part of the season rehabbing in Buffalo.
When Luukkonen underwent surgery in April, the Sabres said he would need six months to recover.... Read the full article
BUFFALO – Few figured coach Ralph Krueger could transform the Sabres so quickly that – gasp – a playoff berth would feel possible this season.
Players need time to understand new messages and systems. Besides, Krueger inherited a hapless team that won just two games last March.
It would take time – maybe months, even a season – before the Sabres showed real progress, right?
Well, six games into Krueger’s tenure, the Sabres are still ... Read the full article
BUFFALO – In the first period Monday afternoon, Sabres coach Ralph Krueger tapped winger Vladimir Sobotka for two defensive-zone draws.
“He went right out there and cleanly won them and took us out of our end,” Krueger said following the Sabres’ 4-0 victory over the Dallas Stars inside KeyBank Center.
Then 4:20 into the third period, Sobotka’s nifty pass past a sliding defender created linemate Jeff Skinner’s goal.
The Czech’s first point this season put ... Read the full article
BUFFALO – Winger Kyle Okposo still remembers the first time he and some other Sabres watched rookie Victor Olofsson shoot the puck.
It was training camp in 2018, and Olofsson had just arrived for his first North American season after leading the Swedish Hockey League in goals.
What Okposo and the others saw wowed them.
“We were just like, ‘Who is this kid who can shoot the puck like this?’” Okposo said Thursday inside KeyBank ... Read the full article
BUFFALO – Officially, center Marcus Johansson’s winner 1:30 into overtime Wednesday doesn’t count as the Sabres’ ninth power-play goal this season.
Johansson secured the Sabres’ third win in four tries (3-0-1), an exciting 5-4 triumph over the Montreal Canadiens, five seconds after center Phillip Danault’s slashing penalty expired.
So, yes, on paper, Johansson’s one-timer from the right circle goes down as an even-strength score. But Danault hadn’t even gotten back into the play yet.
Make ... Read the full article
BUFFALO – As defenseman Ryan Murray started carrying the puck out from behind the Blue Jackets net Monday, Sabres winger Jeff Skinner lurked close by and followed him up the slot.
Before Murray could skate past the circles, Skinner stripped the puck and took off toward the net. The 40-goal scorer then beat Columbus goalie Joonas Korpisalo, tying the game at 11:58 into the second period.
“That was a pure Jeff Skinner goal,” Sabres coach ... Read the full article
BUFFALO – Throughout his career, Ralph Krueger has refused to number lines. The Sabres coach said it’s one of his core philosophies.
Krueger believes everyone, no matter how small the role, contributes to a team’s success. Ranking forward trios or defense pairs would take away from that.
“I just (have) the respect for the depth that teams need to be successful and the role players that I need,” Krueger said after the 2-0 Sabres prepared ... Read the full article
PITTSBURGH – Marcus Johansson rarely displays much emotion. In good times and bad, the Buffalo Sabres center usually keeps an even keel.
Still, Ralph Krueger could tell being named one of the Sabres’ two alternate captains earlier this week had special meaning to Johansson.
“His Swedish persona (was) able to kind of tuck it away in the talk with me, but I thought he was extremely honored,” Krueger said prior to Thursday’s 3-1, season-opening win ... Read the full article
PITTSBURGH – In almost equal preseason action, Buffalo Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark outplayed Carter Hutton, posting a goals-against average 64 points lower and a save percentage 49 points higher than his partner.
But Hutton, 33, handled the load last season, playing a career-high 50 games.
Sabres coach Ralph Krueger, who said everything was up for competition during training camp, probably wants to show Hutton respect on opening night against the Penguins.
The veteran will ... Read the full article