Eric Comrie has played nine games for Buffalo this season. ©2024, Micheline Veluvolu

As career with Sabres likely nears end, Eric Comrie excited to work on game

BUFFALO – In what are likely the final days of his two-year career here, as he watches game after game as the backup or a healthy scratch, Sabres goalie Eric Comrie feels excitement.

At first, the affable Comrie, who hasn’t played since March 7, had a difficult time sitting out. For a while at least, he dressed for games behind starter Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. When the Sabres recalled rookie Devon Levi last month, he was relegated to No. 3 again.

Having spent much of his career as a backup, Comrie can handle a secondary role. But as he morphed into a spare part – he has backed up or been scratched 23 of the last 24 games, including Friday’s 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers – he had a difficult time seeing an end goal in his mind.

“I like to always have an end goal,” Comrie told the Times Herald following Thursday’s practice in KeyBank Center.

So Comrie, 28, found one. His personal goalie coach, Adam Francilia, suggested he change some “biomechanic structure things” in his game.

Normally, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Comrie would be more focused on staying in game rhythm and wouldn’t have time to make subtle changes during the season.

“But right now, I’m kind of saying, ‘Hey, I got some time to make some changes that I saw in my game I wanted to make,’” said Comrie, who returned to his backup role earlier this week when the Sabres sent Levi back to the AHL.

So Comrie, who stays on the ice long after practice ends, said he has recently worked on, among other things, making his hands more active and sinking his pelvis.

“I’m trying to get out of my hinge a little bit, back a little more upright, a little bit more lower in my pelvis, getting a little bit lower into my knees, getting to my inside edge a little bit, get my gloves a little bit more active, track the puck almost with my hands kind of thing,” he explained.

Implementing those changes – “I feel more and more comfortable with them every single day,” he said – has given him a goal and offered more structure.

“I (come) to the rink saying, ‘Hey, I can’t wait to get on the ice and see how this feels today, see if I can I do this,’” he said.

He added: “I’m really excited with the performances I’ve had in the practices, how I’ve been feeling in practice and just the different changes that I’ve been making are starting to pay off.”

Comrie, of course, has endured a tough season. Still, he enjoyed a terrific training camp, forcing the Sabres to keep three goalies again. Then Luukkonen and Levi outplayed him, and he has appeared in just nine NHL games.

The Sabres waived him Dec. 31. Following a successful four-game stint with the Rochester Americans, they summoned him in January when they assigned Levi to the minors to play regularly.

When the Sabres recently had two back-to-back sets, they used Levi to rest Luukkonen.

Comrie has compiled a 1-7-0 record with a 3.91 goals-against average and an .864 save percentage with the Sabres this season.

Perhaps he will play again if they’re eliminated from playoff contention.

When his two-year, $3.6 million contract expires following the season, he knows he will likely have to find a new deal elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent.

“At the end of the day, I don’t know where I’m going to be,” Comrie said. “I’m assuming it probably won’t be here, but it’ll be somewhere hopefully.”

Luukkonen has been named the Sabres’ 2024 Masterton Trophy nominee by the Buffalo Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association for his dedication to hockey.

After beginning this season and ending last year second or third on the depth chart, the Finn, 25, has emerged as the Sabres’ starter and one of the NHL’s best netminders over the past three months.

Luukkonen began his pro career in the ECHL after undergoing hip surgery and spent parts of four seasons in Rochester.

Notes: Sabres winger Jordan Greenway missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. He’s expected to practice today. … Former Sabres defenseman Erik Johnson, who was traded to the Flyers on March 8, faced Buffalo for the first time since the deal. Friday was his 13th appearance with Philadelphia. … Rochester defenseman Riley Stillman, who played 18 games for the Sabres last season, has undergone successful season-ending surgery to repair a lower-body injury he suffered March 15. The Sabres waived Stillman and sent him to the AHL prior to the season.

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