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

Casey Mittelstadt has become one of the most recognizable faces on the Sabres. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

‘Deep dive’ into game helped Casey Mittelstadt become Sabres’ top center

BUFFALO – Don Granato first sensed it during the Sabres’ marathon offseason in 2020. Having been humbled by his demotion to the minors, Casey Mittelstadt grasped he had reached a critical juncture of his career.

When Granato, then an assistant coach, spoke to Mittelstadt, he could feel the center was evolving and maturing.

“He was putting all these pieces (together) of what people had presented to him,” Granato said following Wednesday’s practice.

Granato said Mittelstadt ... Read the full article

Don Granato knows the value of an early goal. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres notes: Don Granato plans to play fast-paced, exciting hockey

BUFFALO – Historically, NHL teams that score first or hold the lead at the end of the first period go on to win the game.

The Sabres won only 15 of their 56 games last season, finishing dead last. Still, when they opened the scoring, they compiled a strong 8-6-5 record. When they led after 20 minutes, they went 4-3-4.

Sabres coach Don Granato brought up the value of an early goal or lead Wednesday ... Read the full article

Eric Staal spent less than one season in Buffalo. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Eric Staal doesn’t want to revisit past with Sabres: ‘Put that behind me’

Eric Staal was hardly interested in revisiting his rough 32-game tenure in Buffalo and explaining the hapless Sabres’ struggles.

Staal, 36, left the NHL’s laughingstock on Friday in the midst of a stunning 17-game winless skid and a personal 23-game goal drought.

So can you blame the veteran center, one of the league’s most decorated players, for wanting to forget about a tumultuous two months and concentrate on his new opportunity with the Montreal Canadiens?... Read the full article

Eric Staal can become an unrestricted free agent following the season. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

After trading Eric Staal, Sabres know more moves coming: ‘Nobody’s naive’

Winger Kyle Okposo knows center Eric Staal was likely only the first of several veteran teammates who will be leaving the hapless Buffalo Sabres over the next few weeks.

The Sabres, having lost 16 straight entering this afternoon’s road game against the Boston Bruins, are broken and on pace to be historically bad. The NHL’s laughingstock needs a massive overhaul, so anyone could be in play before the April 12 trade deadline.

“I mean, nobody’s ... Read the full article

Eric Staal played 32 games for Buffalo. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres trade Eric Staal to Canadiens

The Buffalo Sabres this afternoon traded veteran center Eric Staal to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for third- and fifth-round picks in 2021.

The Sabres will retain $1.625 million of Staal’s $3 million salary. Staal, 36, did not practice with the Sabres today in Boston.

Following the session, Sabres winger Kyle Okposo said he said goodbye to Staal.... Read the full article

Sam Reinhart (23) and the Sabres were scheduled to play in Montreal tonight. ©2020, Micheline Veluvolu

Coronavirus pandemic forces NHL to suspend season

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the NHL to suspend its season indefinitely today.

The league announced the decision following a conference call with its Board of Governors and less than a day after the NBA suspended its season after one its players tested positive for coronavirus.

“In light of ongoing developments resulting from the coronavirus, and after consulting with medical experts and convening a conference call of the Board of Governors, the National Hockey League is ... Read the full article

Dominik Kahun (95), Victor Olofsson (middle) Marcus Johansson (90) celebrate Olofsson’s goal Monday. ©2020, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres’ Marcus Johansson meshing well with new linemates

BUFFALO – Marcus Johansson and Victor Olofsson started developing their chemistry in September, when they spent part of training camp as linemates.

But nearly six months passed before the Swedes shared any meaningful ice time during the regular season.

Olofsson, 24, earned a plum assignment at left wing beside top Sabres center Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart, and he thrived there nearly all season, morphing into one of the NHL’s top rookies.

Meanwhile, Johansson, ... Read the full article

Ralph Krueger grew up listening to Canadiens games on the radio. ©2020, Micheline Veluvolu

First game in Montreal as Sabres coach will be special for Ralph Krueger

BUFFALO – Growing up in Manitoba in the 1960s, you had your choice of two NHL teams to root for, according to Sabres coach Ralph Krueger.

“You were either a Maple Leaf fan or you were a Canadiens fan,” Krueger, 60, said after the Sabres prepared for Thursday’s game against the Canadiens, his first in Montreal as an NHL head coach.

Krueger said his sister, who’s 10 years older than him, listened to every Montreal ... Read the full article