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

Don Granato knows the level of play will improve around the NHL. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Don Granato knows stiff challenges await Sabres

BUFFALO – Coach Don Granato understands in the big picture, the Sabres’ strong start means little. Sure, it’s nice to begin the season 2-0 at home. But they have 80 games left, starting with tonight’s contest against the Vancouver Canucks at KeyBank Center.

Early-season hockey often lacks structure as teams struggle to grasp their systems. In the coming weeks, the level of play will rise significantly.

“It was really nice to start at home and ... Read the full article

Robert Hagg played his first game with Buffalo on Thursday. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Wild Buffalo crowd gave Sabres’ Robert Hagg ‘goosebumps’

BUFFALO – As the Sabres extended their lead in Thursday’s season opener and began throttling the Montreal Canadiens, the 8,000 or so fans watching grew louder and more excited, demanding more goals, singing the “Shout Song” and doing the wave.

On the bench, a couple of Sabres told newcomer Robert Hagg it had been a long time since the crowd inside KeyBank Center was so amped up.

“(They said), ‘Jesus, I haven’t been seeing this ... 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

Jacob Bryson played 38 games as a rookie last season. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Jacob Bryson’s rapping, on-ice play endearing him to Sabres

BUFFALO – Jacob Bryson’s Sabres teammates wanted to hear a joke from him last season, so he figured, what the heck, why not write a funny rap about some of them?

The defenseman took 30 minutes, typed some lyrics and returned with a “song” to perform for them.

Bryson poked fun at Rasmus Ristolainen’s long goatee, Cody Eakin’s “orange” hair and Casey Mittelstadt’s penchant for using an ARP machine, which aids in recovery.

“I would ... Read the full article

Buffalo rookie J-J Peterka scored in his preseason debut. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres’ J-J Peterka, Linus Weissbach earn chance in veteran lineup

BUFFALO – Tonight’s lineup resembles one the Sabres could use during the regular season. At least 16 of the 20 players will likely be on the opening night roster.

But among all the established talent the Sabres will dress, three rookies – goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and wingers J-J Peterka and Linus Weissbach – earned a spot.

Sabres coach Don Granato said Luukkonen, 22, will start tonight and play the entire preseason game against the Columbus ... Read the full article

Robert Hagg joined Buffalo on July 23. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Trade to Sabres energized Robert Hagg: ‘I can’t wait to get to Buffalo’

BUFFALO – Sabres newcomer Robert Hagg knew the Philadelphia Flyers would aggressively overhaul their roster. Instead of contending for the Stanley Cup last season, they imploded after a hot start, finishing a disappointing sixth in the East Division.

“The year we had last year was awful with Philly,” said Hagg, who was acquired July 23 in exchange for defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen and two high draft picks. “So we kind of knew that something was going ... Read the full article

Victor Olofsson might be a first-liner for Buffalo. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres to dress lineup with established talent against Penguins

BUFFALO – Ten Sabres – much of their established talent – will be making their preseason debut tonight at KeyBank Center.

So some of the line combinations and defense pairings the Sabres will be showcasing against the Pittsburgh Penguins could be utilized in the regular season.

Top center Casey Mittelstadt pivoted Jeff Skinner and Victor Olofsson this morning. On defense, Rasmus Dahlin skated beside Henri Jokiharju, his partner late last season.

Coach Don Granato said ... Read the full article

Mark Pysyk spent his first four NHL seasons in Buffalo. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Mark Pysyk enjoying return to Sabres: ‘Going to be a fun team to watch’

BUFFALO – Sometimes, Mark Pysyk said, it seems like he only left the Sabres a week ago. Other times, however, he acknowledged it feels like it has been a long time.

The Sabres, who signed a one-year, $900,000 contract to return, left in 2016. Only one teammate from the affable defenseman’s first run here, center Zemgus Girgensons, is still with the team.

“I see him walking around, the way he plays, his body takes a ... Read the full article