BUFFALO – Suddenly, after weeks of regularly shirking their duties and allowing four or five goals a game, the Sabres have started clamping down defensively.
The results? Two wins over a three-game stretch while giving up just five goals. Following some downright awful defensive displays earlier in their seven-game home stand, the Sabres have finally started showcasing structure again.
Tuesday’s 3-1 victory against the New York Islanders doesn’t rank among their most exciting triumphs this ... Read the full article
BUFFALO – Before Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss morphed into the NHL’s best goaltending tandem, they struggled mightily a year ago, enduring rough seasons.
In 2017-18, Lehner, 27, battled personal problems while tending goal for the hapless Sabres, the league’s worst team. Meanwhile, Greiss, 33, played behind the New York Islanders’ porous defense, which allowed a league-high 293 goals.
But these days, the goalies are thriving, enjoying career-best campaigns for the upstart Islanders, who showcase ... Read the full article
BUFFALO – In his four-year NHL career, center Jack Eichel has never consistently earned more ice time than in the past three weeks. The Sabres’ most meaningful games in seven seasons have prominently featured their captain.
Other than Saturday afternoon’s 3-1 win, a game the Sabres controlled, allowing Phil Housley to rest Eichel a bit for Sunday’s tilt, the coach has utilized his leading scorer a lot. Eichel has skated at least 20 minutes, ... Read the full article
BUFFALO – For a struggling team that must rattle off wins if it hopes to snag a playoff spot for the first time since 2011, this is a gift. Starting tonight, the Sabres play their next seven games at home.
How rare is a seven-game home stand? It’s the longest in franchise history, tying a stretch from Jan. 20 to Feb. 2, 1997.
The Sabres’ season hinges on this 15-day stretch. Realistically, they need to ... Read the full article
BUFFALO – Three straight losses. A rough stretch in which they’ve dropped 11 of 15 games. An anemic offense that has produced just five goals in the last eight contests.
The Sabres closed 2018 like the opened it, struggling to win games and score goals.
Did we mention captain Jack Eichel, the Sabres’ leading scorer, left Monday’s 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders nursing an upper-body injury after playing just 2:42?... Read the full article
BUFFALO – Robin Lehner said he couldn’t put a feeling on being back. Sure, it was a little weird sitting in KeyBank Center’s visiting dressing room. The goalie spent three seasons with the Sabres, an experience he’s grateful for.
But Lehner, 27, said he doesn’t want to look back too much.
“I got an opportunity,” Lehner said Monday prior to his stellar 39-save effort in the New York Islanders’ 3-1 win against his old team, ... Read the full article
BUFFALO – Late in the 2016-17 season, the Sabres rewarded C.J. Smith with two NHL games after the forward left UMass Lowell following his junior year to sign an entry-level contract.
And then, Smith, 24, quietly went to the Rochester Americans, where he morphed into a top scorer and an intriguing prospect.
Still, the Sabres kept Smith in the AHL nearly a season and a half before finally summoning him this morning.... Read the full article
BUFFALO – Kyle Okposo’s offensive slump has become startling.
The Sabres winger has a career-long 21-game goal drought entering tonight’s home tilt against the New York Islanders, his old team. The former NHL All-Star hasn’t even mustered an assist in the last 14 contests, the longest pointless stretch of his 12-year career.
Following a strong start, Okposo stopped producing around mid-November.
Incredibly, Okposo, who usually skates on the second line and power-play unit, is ... Read the full article
BUFFALO – In his first nine pro seasons, Sabres goalie Carter Hutton hit the 50-game mark just once, in 2012-13 with the Rockford Ice Hogs, his final AHL campaign.
So while Hutton, 32, has enjoyed a solid NHL career tending goal for four teams, he has never really been the guy in the big leagues until this season.
Sure, he played a career-high 40 games as a rookie in 2013-14, but that was mostly subbing ... Read the full article
BUFFALO – In a harrowing first-person essay, former Sabres goalie Robin Lehner shares details how his drug and alcohol addiction and untreated bipolar disorder led him to contemplate suicide multiple times late last season before seeking help.
“I wanted to kill myself. I was extremely close multiple times,” Lehner wrote in The Athletic New York. “The battle playing hockey was nothing compared to the battle inside my brain. It was at its worst.”... Read the full article