Jack Eichel has scored just two goals in 17 games this season. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Why is Sabres captain Jack Eichel having such a down season?

BUFFALO – Three weeks ago, Sabres captain Jack Eichel felt confident he would shake off his underwhelming start and, in his words, begin to “take off.”

Eichel, understandably, had trouble adjusting to the dizzying pace of the schedule earlier this season.

An upper-body injury sidelined him the first five days of an abbreviated training camp. Then he played 10 games in 18 days following barely a week of practice.

So the COVID-19 pause that began ... Read the full article

Linus Ullmark made 36 saves Thursday, including a point-blank stop on New York Rangers rookie Alexis Lafreniere. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Goalie Linus Ullmark dazzles in OT loss to Rangers, helps Sabres earn point

BUFFALO – Don’t let the score fool you. The Sabres had no business being in Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers, let alone reaching overtime.

The Sabres looked listless for two periods, generating little offense. They mustered only five shots in the opening period and a meager nine through 40 minutes.

Still, the Sabres hung around and stole a point, mostly thanks to goalie Linus Ullmark’s dazzling performance inside KeyBank Center.

“Linus got ... Read the full article

Curtis Lazar relishes his physical role. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres notes: Curtis Lazar transformed body for gritty fourth-line role

BUFFALO – Curtis Lazar relishes playing a heavy style as the Sabres’ fourth-line center and utilizing his 6-foot frame to disrupt the opposition.

“I take a lot of pride in providing that sandpaper for our team up front and trying to create room for some of our skill guys, knowing that if guys are going to go out there, then you have to deal with me,” Lazar said on a Zoom call Wednesday.

But after ... Read the full article

Ralph Krueger took over the Sabres last season. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Coach Ralph Krueger more comfortable with Sabres’ start this season

Last season, as the Buffalo Sabres roared out of the gate, starting 9-2-1, coach Ralph Krueger said he felt everything was coming too easy for his team.

“I was never extremely comfortable as a coach,” Krueger said on a Zoom call this morning of his first weeks leading the Sabres.

The Sabres, of course, would plummet down the standings, missing the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season. They finished 30-31-8, meaning they won just 35.6% ... Read the full article

Cody Eakin takes a faceoff against the New York Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad on Tuesday. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Cody Eakin, Tobias Rieder and Sabres’ other newcomers already contributing

BUFFALO – With 33 seconds remaining Tuesday and the Sabres clinging to a one-goal lead against the New York Rangers, coach Ralph Krueger sent out center Cody Eakin to take a critical draw in his own zone.

Eakin has quickly become a trusted faceoff specialist, winning 59.4% this season. With winger Taylor Hall serving a boarding penalty and goalie Alexandar Georgiev on the bench for an extra attacker, the Sabres desperately needed the puck.

Eakin ... Read the full article

Jack Eichel celebrates his goal Tuesday with Sam Reinhart (23) and Taylor Hall. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Jack Eichel’s first goal, special teams help Sabres beat Rangers, reach .500

BUFFALO – The biggest anomalies on the Sabres’ stat sheet through their first six games were the zeros attached to captain Jack Eichel’s name.

Despite pumping 23 shots on net, Eichel remained goalless entering Tuesday’s 3-2 win over the New York Rangers at KeyBank Center.

Not surprisingly, Eichel remained highly productive during that stretch, recording a team-high seven assists. He also scored the shootout winner Sunday afternoon.

The ultra-talented center, of course, wasn’t going to ... Read the full article

Matt Irwin played a career-low 36 games last season. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres notes: Matt Irwin ready for opportunity on blue line

BUFFALO – Over the last few years, Sabres newcomer Matt Irwin has morphed from a regular into his team’s seventh defenseman.

After playing a career-high 70 times in 2016-17, Irwin cracked the 50-game mark just once in the next three years. Last season, which he spent with the Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks, he played a career-low 36 contests.

But Irwin, 33, has learned to embrace the role of an extra defender and the challenges ... Read the full article

Carter Hutton missed two games after getting hit in the head. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres’ Carter Hutton practices, says ‘stubbornness’ made him stay in game

BUFFALO – When Ivan Provorov hit Carter Hutton in the head Jan. 19 in Philadelphia, the Sabres goalie said he felt the effects of it right away.

Still, Hutton stayed in the game. Stubbornness, he said, took over.

“I’m competitive and I want to play,” Hutton said on a Zoom call this morning. “I kept communicating with (head athletic trainer Rich Stinziano), but I definitely didn’t put him in an easy spot, too, because I ... Read the full article

Riley Sheahan signed a one-year contract with the Sabres on Jan. 8. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Versatile Riley Sheahan fitting in well with Sabres: ‘He does everything right’

BUFFALO – The Sabres haven’t found many Riley Sheahan-types – a low-cost role player capable of providing valuable minutes and moving around the lineup – over the past decade.

Myriad factors have contributed to the Sabres’ struggles, and their inability to add depth through trades or free agency ranks near the top of the list.

But the versatile Sheahan, 29, quickly established himself after signing a professional tryout contract to attend training camp. He earned ... Read the full article

Zemgus Girgensons has embraced a checking role. ©2019, Hickling Images

After six years of losing, Zemgus Girgensons enjoying Sabres’ revival

BUFFALO – Over winger Zemgus Girgensons’ first six NHL seasons, the Sabres earned an average of only 67 points, missing the playoffs every year and finishing dead last three times.

Girgensons, 25, has endured a lot of losing over his 430-game career. His only taste of big league success before this month – a 10-game winning streak last November – was fleeting, as the Sabres quickly reverted to their hapless ways.

So the Sabres’ scorching ... Read the full article