Game Preview: 12/14/19 at NY Islanders

GAME-DAY RESOURCES

Game Notes NHL Stats Press Clips

LAST GAME
Thursday, December 12
Nashville 3 at Buffalo 4
Goals: Eichel (2), Vesey, Olofsson
Goalie: Ullmark (36 saves/39 shots)
PP: 0/1; PK: 2/2; Shots: Nashville 39 – Buffalo 32

CURRENT INJURIES – (Man Games Lost: 154)
Player (injury, first game missed) – total games missed
Matt Hunwick (neck, Oct. 3; injured reserve) – 33 games
Vladimir Sobotka (knee, Nov. 9; injured reserve) – 17 games
Tage Thompson (upper body, Nov. 19; injured reserve) – 13 games

TRANSACTIONS IN PAST 7 DAYS
12/12: Activated D Rasmus Dahlin from IR

UPCOMING GAMES
Tuesday, Dec. 17: Buffalo at Toronto, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 19: Buffalo at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 21: Los Angeles at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 23: Buffalo at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 27: Boston at Buffalo, 7 p.m.

TODAY’S GAME
SABRES at ISLANDERS

  • This is the second of three meetings between the Sabres and Islanders this season.
  • Last meeting: New York defeated Buffalo 1-0 in Buffalo on Nov. 2
  • Next meeting: Thursday, March 26 in New York
  • The Sabres are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Islanders; 4-5-1 on the road.
  • This is the 173rd game all-time between Buffalo and New York; Buffalo has an 82-66-24 series record.
  • The Sabres are 36-37-12 on the road against the Islanders all-time.

THIS DATE IN SABRES HISTORY

  • The Sabres are 12-7-4 all-time on December 14.
  • December 14, 1982: Tony McKegney scores twice and adds an assist to lead the Sabres to a 5-3 win over the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.
  • December 14, 2005: Martin Biron stopped 32 shots in a 4-3 win against the Dallas Stars, winning his 11th consecutive start. Biron would post wins in each of his next two starts, bringing his streak to 13 straight starts.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • A win today would give the Sabres wins in a season-best four straight games.
  • After scoring a pair of goals in both of Buffalo’s last two games, Jack Eichel entered play Friday with the second-most goals in the league this season (22).
  • Victor Olofsson has recorded 19 points (7+12) in his last 18 games, including two-point performances in four of the team’s last six games. He has failed to record a point in just three of those 18 games and entered play Friday leading all NHL rookies in goals (13) and points (29) this season.
  • Jimmy Vesey is currently on a three-game point streak (1+2).
  • Buffalo’s penalty kill is 12-for-13 (92.3%) in the team’s last eight games against the Islanders.

HOT AGAINST THE ISLANDERS

  • Jack Eichel has totaled eight points (2+6) in his seven meetings with the Islanders since the beginning of the 2017-18 season, including points (1+3) in all three road games.
  • Colin Miller has recorded four points (1+3) in four meetings games against the Islanders since the beginning of the 2017-18 season.
  • Victor Olofsson scored his first NHL goal in his only previous road game against the Islanders on March 30, 2019.
  • Linus Ullmark is 3-1-0 in four career games against the Islanders with a .938 save percentage and a 1.75 goals-against average.

DECEMBER TO REMEMBER
In Buffalo’s six games since the beginning of December (all stats before Friday’s games):

  • The Sabres are 4-1-1 and have the second-best goal differential (plus-9) in the NHL.
  • Jack Eichel leads all NHL players with 11 points and is tied for the league lead with six goals. His plus-9 rating ranks third in the league.
  • Victor Olofsson’s six assists and nine points both tie for second-most in the league.
  • Johan Larsson is tied for second in the league in assists (6), tied for third in points (8) and tied for fourth in plus/minus (plus-8).
  • Rasmus Ristolainen’s plus-10 rating is tied for the NHL lead and his five assists tie for fifth-most among all NHL players.
  • Sam Reinhart has totaled seven points (3+4), including three two-point performances, to tie for 10th-most in the league.
  • Linus Ullmark is 4-1-0 with a .930 save percentage in five appearances, tying for the most wins in the NHL.

JACK ATTACK

  • Jack Eichel enters today’s game on a career-best 15-game point streak that began on Nov. 16.
  • Entering play Friday, his 14 goals, 27 points and plus-18 rating during the streak all led the NHL during that timeframe. His 13 assists were one shy of league lead during that stretch.
  • Eichel’s streak ties Patrick Kane’s 15-game streak from Nov. 2 to 30 as the longest streak in the league this season.
  • The streak is the sixth-longest in franchise history and the longest by a Sabre since Tim Connolly tallied points in 16 consecutive games from Dec. 23, 2009 to Jan. 25, 2010.

Longest Point Streaks in Sabres History

Player Games Start Date End Date Goals Assists Points
Gilbert Perreault 18 Oct. 24, 1971 Dec. 4, 1971 10 21 31
Dave Andreychuk 17 Dec. 31, 1991 Feb. 4, 1992 11 25 36
Dave Andreychuk 17 Oct. 18, 1992 Nov. 14, 1992 17 14 31
Rick Martin 16 Oct. 27, 1974 Nov. 28, 1974 13 15 28
Tim Connolly 16 Dec. 23, 2009 Jan. 25, 2010 7 18 25
Jack Eichel 15 Nov. 16, 2019 Active 14 13 27

5-ON-5 GOALS

  • According to NaturalStatTrick.com, the Sabres entered play Friday with three players among the league’s leaders in 5-on-5 goals: Jack Eichel (12, T-5th), Jeff Skinner (11, T-9th), Sam Reinhart 10, T-14th).
  • Only 19 NHL players had at least 10 goals during 5-on-5 play entering play Wednesday. Buffalo joined the Edmonton Oilers (Draisaitl, Kassian, McDavid) as one of two teams with three players among those 18.

EVEN-STRENGTH IMPROVEMENT
The Sabres have seen positive trends at even strength in the team’s 16 games since returning from Stockholm, Sweden. In that span, Buffalo’s 5-on-5 numbers have improved on the team’s per-60 rates from its first 17 games in every meaningful category, including goals for and against, shots for and against, shot attempts for and against, and scoring chances for and against.

Buffalo Sabres at 5-on-5 (via NaturalStatTrick.com)

GF% SF% CF% SCF%
First 17 Games 50.79 48.21 48.61 47.72
Last 16 Games 57.97 50.26 50.97 50.00

During the 16-game stretch that began on Nov. 14 vs. Carolina, the team has tied or led its opponent at 5-on-5 in…

  • goals: 12 times
  • shots: nine times
  • shot attempts: 10 times
  • scoring chances: 10 times

SETTING THE PACE

  • With 22 goals in 33 games so far this season, Jack Eichel is on pace to shatter his previous best goal total (28), set in the 2018-19 season.
  • Eichel’s output through 33 games currently has him on pace to finish the season with 55 goals and 114 points, which would be the highest goal and point totals by a Sabre since Pat LaFontaine (53+95) and Alexander Mogilny (76+51) in 1992-93.
  • LaFontaine (83 in 1992-93) is the only Sabre ever to have recorded more even-strength points in a season than the 82 Eichel is currently on pace for.
  • Victor Olofsson’s goal and point totals currently have him on pace for the best offensive season by a Sabres rookie in decades. If he maintains his current pace, he would finish the season with the most goals by a Sabres rookie (32) since Ray Sheppard’s 38 in 1987-88 and the most points by a Sabres rookie (72) since Rick Martin’s franchise-record 74 in 1971-72. Gilbert Perreault (72 in 1970-71) is the only other player in franchise history to finish his rookie season with a point total as high as Olofsson’s current pace.
  • Sam Reinhart’s 12 goals in 33 games put him on pace for a career-high goal total (30).

POINTS IN BUNCHES

  • Jack Eichel has recorded 13 multi-point games this season, tying for eighth-most in the NHL before Friday’s games.
  • Entering play Friday, his six multi-goal games led the league and his eight multi-assist games tied for second-most, trailing only Connor McDavid (9).
  • Eichel has already recorded at least three points seven times this season, topping his previous career-high total (6) set in the 2016-17 season. Only Connor McDavid (9) and Leon Draisaitl (8) had more games with at least three points this season entering play Friday.
  • Eichel’s three games with at least four points this season tied for the league lead entering play Friday. Since he entered the league in 2015-16, only seven players have totaled at least four points more times than Eichel’s eight: Nikita Kucherov (15), Patrick Kane (10), Connor McDavid (10), Johnny Gaudreau (9), Brad Marchand (9), Alex Ovechkin (9) and Steven Stamkos (9).

SABRES AMONG LEAGUE-LEADERS (Sabres’ league rankings before 12/13 games)

  • Eichel: 17 EVG (1st), 22 G (2nd), 33 EVP (T-2nd), 46 PTS (T-5th), 4 GWG (T-7th), 16 EVA (T-7th), 24 A (T-8th), plus-15 (T-8th)
  • Hutton: 2 SO (T-3rd)
  • Olofsson: 7 PPG (T-5th)
  • Ristolainen: 102 hits (T-7th)
  • Skinner: 118 S (8th)

SABRES REAL-TIME STATS LEADERS
Hits: Ristolainen (102), McCabe (50), Girgensons (49)
Blocked Shots: McCabe (53), Ristolainen (40), Jokiharju/Scandella (28)/
Shots: Skinner (118), Eichel (116), Olofsson (81)

SABRES’ RECORD IN 10 GAME SEGMENTS [W-L-OTL (PTS), GF/GA, PP, PK]
1-10: 8-1-1 (17), 38/24, 12/39, 23/30
11-20: 2-6-2 (6), 21/35, 2/26, 21/29
21-30: 3-4-3 (8), 34/34, 4/33, 23/32
31-40: 3-0-0 (6), 12/7, 0/6, 6/7

OVERTIME RESULTS (3-5; 123-133 all-time)
Oct. 7 at CBJ: L, 4-3 (GWG-Texier, 2:08)
Oct. 9 vs. MTL: W, 5-4 (GWG-Johansson, 1:30)
Oct. 22 vs. SJS: W, 4-3 (GWG-Eichel, 3:13)
Nov. 14 vs. CAR: L, 5-4 (GWG-Hamilton, 2:28)
Nov. 27 vs. CGY: L, 3-2 (GWG-Lindholm, 1:17)
Nov. 30 at TOR: L, 2-1 (GWG-Tavares, 1:45)
Dec. 7 at VAN: L, 6-5 (GWG-Miller, 3:21)
Dec. 8 at EDM: W, 3-2 (GWG-Miller, 1:13)

SHOOTOUT RESULTS (1-1; 76-70 all-time)
Oct. 11 vs. FLA: W, 3-2 (GDG-Eichel)
Oct. 28 vs. ARI: L, 3-2 (GDG-Schmaltz)

MILESTONES APPROACHING (Player … Needs … Milestone)
Games Played
Jeff Skinner … 6 games … 700 career games played
Goals
Sam Reinhart … 1 goal … 100 career goals
Kyle Okposo … 10 goals … 200 career goals
Assists
Marco Scandella … 9 assists … 100 career assists
Points
Kyle Okposo … 6 points … 500 career points
Zach Bogosian … 8 points … 200 career points 

RECENT MILESTONES
Jimmy Vesey … 100th NHL point … Dec. 12 vs. NSH

Post-Game Report: 12/12 vs. Nashville

Final Score

1st 2nd 3rd OT SO Final SOG
Predators
(14-11-5)
2 1 0 3 39
Sabres
(16-11-6)
1 2 1 4 32

Game Summary

Event Summary

 

Top Notes

  • With the win, the Sabres improved to 10-3-3 at home this season.
  • Linus Ullmark earned the win to improve to 6-1-1 with a .923 save percentage in his last eight appearances.
  • Jack Eichel scored two goals tonight and now ranks second in the NHL with 22 goals this season. His six multi-goal games in 2019-20 lead the league.
  • Eichel extended his point streak to 15 games (14+13), tying Patrick Kane for the longest point streak in the NHL this season. He now has the sixth-longest streak in Sabres history.
  • Eichel now has 11 points (5+6) in nine career games against Nashville.
  • With Buffalo’s first goal of the night, Jimmy Vesey extended his point streak to three games (1+2). Vesey now has eight points (4+4) in the Sabres’ last 11 games.
  • Vesey’s goal was the 100th point of his NHL career.
  • Rasmus Ristolainen’s assist on Vesey’s goal gives him seven points (1+6) in his last eight games.
  • Victor Olofsson’s goal tonight gives him 19 points (7+12) in his last 18 games. He now leads all NHL rookies with 29 points this season (13+16).
  • Sam Reinhart’s two-assist performance tonight gives him seven points (3+4) in his last five games and nine points (6+3) in nine career games against the Predators.

 

Tonight’s Goaltenders

Tonight’s Stats
Team Goaltender Decision GA SA
Predators Saros L 4 32
Sabres Ullmark W 3 39
Updated Season Stats
Team Goaltender Record SV% GAA
Predators Saros 4-7-2 .894 3.04
Sabres Ullmark 10-6-2 .916 2.84

 

Post-Game Audio

Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger

Sabres forward Jack Eichel

Sabres forward Victor Olofsson

Sabres forward Sam Reinhart

Sabres forward Jimmy Vesey

Predators head coach Peter Laviolette

Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis

Game Preview: 12/12/19 vs. Nashville

GAME-DAY RESOURCES

Game Notes NHL Stats Press Clips

LAST GAME
Tuesday, December 10
St. Louis 2 at Buffalo 5
Goals: Eichel (2), Reinhart, Larsson, Girgensons
Goalie: Ullmark (28 saves/30 shots)
PP: 0/2; PK: 2/2; Shots: Buffalo 33 – St. Louis 30

CURRENT INJURIES – (Man Games Lost: 151)
Player (injury, first game missed) – total games missed
Matt Hunwick (neck, Oct. 3; injured reserve) – 32 games
Vladimir Sobotka (knee, Nov. 9; injured reserve) – 16 games
Tage Thompson (upper body, Nov. 19; injured reserve) – 12 games
Rasmus Dahlin (concussion, Nov. 27; injured reserve) – 8 games

TRANSACTIONS IN PAST 7 DAYS
12/7: Activated F Kyle Okposo from IR
12/12: Activated D Rasmus Dahlin from IR

UPCOMING GAMES
Thursday, Dec. 12: Nashville at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 14: Buffalo at NY Islanders, 1 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 17: Buffalo at Toronto, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 19: Buffalo at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 21: Los Angeles at Buffalo, 1 p.m.

TONIGHT’S GAME
PREDATORS at SABRES

  • This is the first of two meetings between the Sabres and Predators this season.
  • Last meeting: Nashville defeated Buffalo 3-2 in Buffalo on April 2
  • Next meeting: Saturday, Jan. 18 in Nashville
  • The Sabres are 3-5-2 in their last 10 games vs. the Predators; 1-6-3 at home.
  • This is the 28th game all-time between Buffalo and Nashville; Buffalo has a 10-13-4 series record.
  • The Sabres are 1-8-4 at home against the Predators all-time.

THIS DATE IN SABRES HISTORY

  • The Sabres are 9-8-4 all-time on December 12.
  • December 12, 1981: Gilbert Perreault factors in on all four goals, including his 13th career hat trick, as the Sabres top the Red Wings by a score of 4-2 in Detroit.
  • December 12, 2000: J-P Dumont records his first hat trick as a member of the Sabres and Dominik Hasek stops all 22 Bruins shots in a 3-0 win at Boston.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • Jack Eichel has totaled nine points (3+6) in eight career games against the Predators, including a franchise record-tying five assists on March 31, 2018 in Nashville.
  • Jeff Skinner has posted 17 points (9+8) in 15 career meetings with the Predators. His 1.1 points per game against Nashville trails only his six points (5+1) in five career games against the Carolina Hurricanes (1.2 PTS/GP) as his best scoring rate against any NHL opponent.
  • Kyle Okposo has 12 points (7+5) in 13 career games against Nashville.
  • Sam Reinhart has seven points (6+1) in eight career games against the Predators, including four goals in his last three.
  • Rasmus Ristolainen has totaled four assists in his last three games against Nashville.
  • Jake McCabe (1+2) and Evan Rodrigues (0+3) each have three points in their last three matchups with the Predators.
  • Brandon Montour has tallied an assist in two straight meetings with Nashville entering tonight’s game.

HOME COOKING
The Sabres are 9-3-3 (.700) through their first 15 home games of the season, putting the team on pace to tie its ninth-best home record in a season. Buffalo’s plus-17 goal differential at home ranked fourth in the NHL entering play Wednesday.

WHO’S HOT?

  • Jack Eichel was selected as the NHL’s Third Star of the Week for the week ending Dec. 8 after leading all NHL players with seven points (2+5) in four games last week. He followed up the honor with a two-goal performance vs. St. Louis on Tuesday, becoming the third NHL player to reach the 20-goal mark this season.
  • Victor Olofsson has recorded 18 points (6+12) in his last 17 games, including two-point performances in four of the team’s last five games.
  • Johan Larsson enters tonight’s game with nine points (2+7) and a plus-9 rating in Buffalo’s last seven contests. He’s currently on his first three-game point streak since November 2016. With a point tonight, he’d tie his career-best four game streak from March 29 to April 5, 2016 (3+3).
  • Sam Reinhart has totaled five points (3+2) in Buffalo’s last four games.
  • Linus Ullmark is 5-1-1 with a .923 save percentage in his last seven appearances. In those games, Ullmark has posted a .939 save percentage at 5-on-5.

5-ON-5 GOALS

  • According to NaturalStatTrick.com, the Sabres entered play Wednesday with three players among the league’s leaders in 5-on-5 goals: Jeff Skinner (11, T-8th), Jack Eichel (10, T-12th), Sam Reinhart 10, T-12th).
  • Only 18 NHL players had at least 10 goals during 5-on-5 play entering play Wednesday. Buffalo joined the Edmonton Oilers (Draisaitl, Kassian, McDavid) as one of two teams with three players among those 18.

JACK ATTACK

  • Jack Eichel enters today’s game on a career-best 14-game point streak that began on Nov. 16. Entering play Wednesday, his 12 goals, 25 points and plus-16 rating during the streak all led the NHL during that timeframe. His 13 assists trailed only Evgeni Malkin (14) for the league lead.
  • Eichel’s streak is the longest active point streak in the NHL and the second-longest streak in the league this season, one game shy of Patrick Kane’s 15-game streak from Nov. 2 to 30 (11+13)
  • The streak is the longest by a Sabre since Tim Connolly tallied points in 16 consecutive games from Dec. 23, 2009 to Jan. 25, 2010. Only four players in Sabres history have recorded a point streak of more than 14 games: Dave Andreychuk (2x), Tim Connolly, Rick Martin and Gilbert Perreault.
  • Perreault holds Buffalo’s franchise record with points in 18 consecutive games from Oct. 24 to Dec. 4, 1971 (10+21).

EVEN-STRENGTH IMPROVEMENT
The Sabres have seen positive trends at even strength in the team’s 15 games since returning from Stockholm, Sweden. In that span, Buffalo’s 5-on-5 numbers have improved on the team’s per-60 rates from its first 17 games in every meaningful category, including goals for and against, shots for and against, shot attempts for and against, and scoring chances for and against.

Buffalo Sabres at 5-on-5 (via NaturalStatTrick.com)

GF% SF% CF% SCF%
First 17 Games 50.79 48.21 48.61 47.72
Last 15 Games 58.06 50.56 51.17 50.26

During the 15-game stretch that began on Nov. 14 vs. Carolina, the team has tied or led its opponent at 5-on-5 in…

  • goals: 11 times
  • shots: nine times
  • shot attempts: 10 times
  • scoring chances: 10 times

SETTING THE PACE

  • With 20 goals in 32 games so far this season, Jack Eichel is on pace to shatter his previous best goal total (28), set in the 2018-19 season.
  • Eichel’s output through 32 games currently has him on pace to finish the season with 51 goals and 113 points, which would be the highest goal and point totals by a Sabre since Pat LaFontaine (53+95) and Alexander Mogilny (76+51) in 1992-93.
  • LaFontaine (83 in 1992-93) is the only Sabre ever to have recorded more even-strength points in a season than the 79 Eichel is currently on pace for.
  • Victor Olofsson’s goal and point totals currently have him on pace for the best offensive season by a Sabres rookie in decades. If he maintains his current pace, he would finish the season with the most goals by a Sabres rookie (31) since Donald Audette’s 31 in 1991-92 and the most points by a Sabres rookie (72) since Rick Martin’s franchise-record 74 in 1971-72. Gilbert Perreault (72 in 1970-71) is the only other player in franchise history to finish his rookie season with a point total as high as Olofsson’s current pace.
  • Sam Reinhart’s 12 goals in 32 games put him on pace for a career-high goal total (31).

POINTS IN BUNCHES

  • Jack Eichel has recorded 12 multi-point games this season, tying for ninth-most in the NHL before Wednesday’s games.
  • Entering play Wednesday, his five multi-goal games tied for the league lead and his eight multi-assist games tied for second-most, trailing only Connor McDavid (9).
  • Eichel has already recorded at least three points seven times this season, topping his previous career-high total (6) set in the 2016-17 season. Only Connor McDavid (9) and Leon Draisaitl (8) had more games with at least three points this season entering play Wednesday.
  • Eichel’s three games with at least four points this season tied for the league lead entering play Wednesday. Since he entered the league in 2015-16, only seven players have totaled at least four points more times than Eichel’s eight: Nikita Kucherov (15), Patrick Kane (10), Connor McDavid (10), Johnny Gaudreau (9), Brad Marchand (9), Alex Ovechkin (9) and Steven Stamkos (9).

SABRES AMONG LEAGUE-LEADERS (Sabres’ league rankings before 12/11 games)

  • Eichel: 15 EVG (T-1st), 20 G (3rd), 31 EVP (T-4th), 4 GWG (T-5th), 44 PTS (6th), 24 A (T-8th), 113 S (T-10th)
  • Hutton: 2 SO (T-2nd)
  • Olofsson: 7 PPG (T-5th)
  • Ristolainen: 100 hits (9th)
  • Skinner: 118 S (T-6th)

SABRES REAL-TIME STATS LEADERS
Hits: Ristolainen (100), Girgensons (47), McCabe (47)
Blocked Shots: McCabe (52), Ristolainen (40), Jokiharju (28)
Shots: Skinner (118), Eichel (113), Olofsson (79)

SABRES’ RECORD IN 10 GAME SEGMENTS [W-L-OTL (PTS), GF/GA, PP, PK]
1-10: 8-1-1 (17), 38/24, 12/39, 23/30
11-20: 2-6-2 (6), 21/35, 2/26, 21/29
21-30: 3-4-3 (8), 34/34, 4/33, 23/32
31-40: 2-0-0 (4), 8/4, 0/5, 4/5

OVERTIME RESULTS (3-5; 123-133 all-time)
Oct. 7 at CBJ: L, 4-3 (GWG-Texier, 2:08)
Oct. 9 vs. MTL: W, 5-4 (GWG-Johansson, 1:30)
Oct. 22 vs. SJS: W, 4-3 (GWG-Eichel, 3:13)
Nov. 14 vs. CAR: L, 5-4 (GWG-Hamilton, 2:28)
Nov. 27 vs. CGY: L, 3-2 (GWG-Lindholm, 1:17)
Nov. 30 at TOR: L, 2-1 (GWG-Tavares, 1:45)
Dec. 7 at VAN: L, 6-5 (GWG-Miller, 3:21)
Dec. 8 at EDM: W, 3-2 (GWG-Miller, 1:13)

SHOOTOUT RESULTS (1-1; 76-70 all-time)
Oct. 11 vs. FLA: W, 3-2 (GDG-Eichel)
Oct. 28 vs. ARI: L, 3-2 (GDG-Schmaltz)

MILESTONES APPROACHING (Player … Needs … Milestone)
Games Played
Jeff Skinner … 7 games … 700 career games played
Goals
Sam Reinhart … 1 goal … 100 career goals
Kyle Okposo … 10 goals … 200 career goals
Assists
Marco Scandella … 9 assists … 100 career assists
Points
Jimmy Vesey … 1 point … 100 career points
Kyle Okposo … 6 points … 500 career points
Zach Bogosian … 8 points … 200 career points

RECENT MILESTONES
Jack Eichel … 300th NHL point … Dec. 7 at VAN

Ralph Krueger Interview – Howard & Jeremy (12/11/19)

December 11, 2019

Ralph Krueger
Howard and Jeremy (9 a.m.)
https://wgr550.radio.com/media/audio-channel/12-11-sabres-head-coach-ralph-krueger-with-jeremy-and-sal (14:33)

Jeremy White: Ralph, good morning. It’s Jeremy and Sal Capaccio in for Howard. How are you this morning?

Ralph Krueger: Good morning, good morning. I’m very good. I like snow, so it’s a beautiful day in Buffalo.

JW: Do you have anywhere to go today? I mean, hopefully you’re not driving too far. It can get rough out there.

RK: No, no I live in the core of the city so I have a similar drive no matter rain or shine, snow or sleet, so it’s fine. My movements are easy. We’re here at rink early this morning, the coaches, and we’re back at it.

JW: So what’s on the docket on things you have to work on? I mean, last night’s game was, I think, a fairly strong performance from your group. Fairly happy overall?

RK: Yeah, we’re keeping on the plan, which is to look for growth again today. Keep out picture small. Get ready for Nashville. But more than anything, we need to take with what we did yesterday and how we closed out that game after the 3-2 goal. We had our best 15 minutes of hockey this season, finishing a game and controlling the scoreboard and understanding what it takes to bring those kind of games home against the very heavy, hard-playing St. Louis. I was proud of our finish and so a lot more to confirm yesterday than to learn from, so that’s always nice.

JW: Do you have individual plays? You’re talking about your best 15 minutes. Will you take the video, go over it with the players? What kind of, I guess, drills and or video sessions, or whatever you might do with the players, will you use to highlight exactly what about those 15 minutes you liked so much?

RK: So what happens on a practice day like today is, first of all, we need to know what’s coming up, which is — again, we continue on a torrid pace here with two games in the next three days coming up, so we won’t practice that long. It’ll be short and high quality, low quantity and then off the ice we generally will take some clips from the game yesterday that we liked and also some that we didn’t. There’s always things we can improve on, and work again in a compact form. The guys are still recovering a little bit from our Western Canada trip, so we take it easy on the information, but maybe a 10-minute meeting about the things we liked and about the things we can work on and then we’ll break off and my supporting coaches will do some individual work with players and that’s kind of how our day looks today. We just go right back at it and try to get better for the game against Nashville tomorrow.

JW: You managed to do something that it seems like doesn’t happen often, which is win the first game back from a Western trip. That’s always supposed to be a kiss-of-death kind of game. It’s always difficult for a team that comes back from the West to win their first home game. Did you do anything different about preparation? We’ve talked load management before. Is there anything that you’ve found to be a bit of a trick in coming back from the Western Conference?

RK: Well we almost did nothing, which was probably the trick. We didn’t even see the players; we left them alone on the day we came back at five in the morning there on Sunday night to Monday morning. And then yesterday, we did about a 12- or 13-minute skate in the morning to activate a little bit the hands and bodies. We kept it light as far as video and then brought them in, reeled them in in the evening. But it was actually leaving them alone, making sure they got a lot of sleep and recovery time and that seemed to work. You just need to feel what the group is capable of taking on and I think the momentum out of the Edmonton game, which was really an excellent performance, helped us a lot to get back here in the East and to perform like we did last night.

JW: Linus Ullmark has been just tremendous for you guys of late and last night was not out of the ordinary for him.

RK: No, Linus is really taking a step here this season. Mike Bales, our goalie coach, is doing an excellent job with him psychologically and physically. He worked hard this summer to become more athletic and we can see it in his game, but more than anything it’s his mind and how he’s able to hold a more consistent, aggressive style right through the games and it’s improving. He’s a big part of what’s going on here since — I would say about 11 games now, we’re about 11 games into a stretch where we’ve been pretty consistent with our game. We had that lull of about 10, 11 games after our hot start where we were wandering in and out of our game, but we’re quite pleased with the consistency of performance here. We’re still going to have our off moments, and we’re still going to have times where we need to improve on, but more than anything, Linus is kind of developing like the group in general into a more consistent pattern, which we like and gives us a chance to win every night.

JW: You’re probably going to need both goaltenders down the stretch if you’re going to stay in a playoff race, right now in second in the division. Is your goalie schedule or your percentage of starts per guy, do you have an idea going in? Or is it very much fluid week-to-week? Is it kind of a feeling out process for you being that it’s your first year with both of these guys?

RK: Well no [Carter Hutton] has had some tough breaks of late and he’s such a strong character and he’s an excellent leader in the room and a good voice even as he’s trying to get his confidence and momentum back. We will definitely continue to go game-by-game, whether it’s the forwards, whether it’s the D, you can see we’re making scratches once in a while where we are truly trying to do what’s best for the group for the next game and not thinking much beyond that. So there’s no real long-term plan here, guys; we’re just going to continue to try to put the group together that we think will give us the best chance to stay in the race, and that’s what we need to do against Nashville again tomorrow.

JW: With regard to your defense when doing that, Ralph, you’ve got a rotation, whether it’s Colin Miller in the box one night or Marco Scandella in the box one night. When you’re picking the six that are going to play — six or seven in some cases that are going to dress — how do you go about that? Are you looking at numbers? Are you looking at pairings? Whether or not a pair is meshing? If a pair is meshing, is a guy more likely to stay in and not be bounced out by the rotation? I’m wondering exactly how you’re arriving at each decision that these six are the best on the given night.

RK: Well the complication there has really been that the group has performed it exactly as that: as a group. Nobody has fallen off the map completely. It’s been extremely difficult because we feel there’s a lot of parity there on the D right now and almost any combination will give us a chance. We’re trying to make sure we keep the spirits in the right place, and the rotations have been taken well by the D, whether we play seven — which is never a lot of fun for defensemen in the National Hockey League — or we sit somebody out, they’re all in with the guys. They work out that much harder in the practices if they don’t have a game. Thus far, what we do this morning, we get up early, we come in, our coach’s talk begins with the roster, begins with how we want to come together for Nashville, what group we’re going to pick. There is some stomach behind all of that, some gut decisions that are made. But again, we’re happy with the group, we’re happy with the internal competition, it pushes everybody to look for their A-game every day. And like most things we’re doing here, we really make those decisions on the day.

Sal Capaccio: I know you’re really big into communication and relationships, so how do you approach that with the guys? Because no one wants to sit, obviously. How do you go about a daily conversation with the guys and how all that’s going to play out?

RK: Well Donnie Granato with the forwards and Steve Smith with the D help me in that process so we are always communicating openly with the players before we announce the roster and the lineup and we let the player know that he’s out, if he is, and give him the opportunity to discuss with us the situation; possibly the whys and what could he work on if he has a practice or he’s watching a game instead of playing it. I want to say that the assistant coaches play a huge role there because my day after practice, I run into the media, there’s lots of other group things that I take care of and, individually, I’ve got unbelievable support here in my coaching staff and they communicate very openly. We just lay all the cards on the table. We’re very honest with the guys, we let them know the truth, and we can only hope that they take it the right way — and they have so far — and that they grow from that and they push themselves to be better and make it more difficult for us to take them out next time.

JW: Ralph, how about for Casey Mittelstadt? Had a game up in the press box to kind of look things over. He’s kind of had his struggles this year. You’re talking about you being honest with the guys, what’s your message to Casey and his development at this point?

RK: Well we have to understand when players are 20 or under how much they are learning every single day and how far away they still are from their potential. Casey’s potential is so exciting. His skill and ability as it develops here is a lot of fun to work with. Sometimes taking a breath and sitting out and watching from afar and having a lesser role can be what that player needs for a few days or could be a few games or only one game. It’s all an attitude thing: How do you take that as a player? Do you point fingers all over the place and blame other people or do you look inside and try to get better yourself and learn from it? Casey is looking at what he needs to work on, what he needs to get better on. Donnie Granato is spending a lot of time with him as he grows here day to day. He’s come a long way since the beginning of training camp to understand what it takes to be a centerman in the National Hockey League. He’s spending some time on the wing here and there. There’s a lot coming at you here at a very quick speed. The level of play in the National Hockey League is going up every week right now as everybody is finding their rhythm, finding their games; the challenge is harder and more difficult and so it is for Casey. I just love his attitude. I love his willingness to work and to understand what it’s going to take. Again, it’s just part of the process here. We’ve got a good group of guys and different people will be sitting out on different nights and that’s just a sign of a team evolving in the right direction.

JW: One last (question) before we let you go. I think one good sign about players can grow and become an even better version of what they were is probably Jack Eichel, who continues to club to new heights. This has been a great year for him. He’s got 20 goals already, on pace for over 100 points, which would be a career high for him by quite a bit. I would say Jack Eichel’s a shining example of still getting more out of a player even though he’s been in the league a couple of years.

RK: Jack has 100 percent bought into everything we’re doing here and he’s an example, every shift he works has as anybody. He plays as strongly within the framework that we want to play in here and he’s profiting from it as an individual player, which is interesting him much less than the team success. Off ice, on ice, just an outstanding leader and [I’m] so excited that he’s having personal success, but again, nobody’s really speaking about that. He certainly isn’t. It’s all about the team here. It’s all about us learning how to compete here and to continue to stay in the mix, to stay in the race and to be in the right position in the new year. So that’s the great thing about Jack. It’s a lot of fun working with him. He’s trying to get better still every day, which has got to excite us all. And you can see the minutes he’s playing and the work ethic that he has; it’s definitely paying off for him. But nobody’s giving him this. He’s earning everything. He’s working for everything, and his skill along with that work ethic is an exciting thing to be a part of.

JW: Alright Ralph, best of luck tomorrow against Nashville.

SC: It’s Aud Night.

JW: It’s Aud Night.

SC: I know your playing career and your coaching career wouldn’t have really taken you to the Aud, but do you remember anything about the Aud?

RK: Well I’ll tell you right now that I do not remember anything about the Aud, but I can only tell you that one of my good friends from Europe, Uwe Krupp is here from the ’80s and he’s hanging out with us here for a few days. He coaches over in Prague right now and he’s been a coaching colleague in Europe for decades. He’s one of the biggest fans Buffalo has, I have to tell you. He was one of my first calls when I was offered the job here. It’s good to have Uwe around and all the ’80s guys at the game tomorrow. It will be a lot of fun.

Post-Game Report: 12/10 vs. St. Louis

Final Score

1st 2nd 3rd OT SO Final SOG
Blues
(18-8-6)
1 0 1 2 30
Sabres
(15-11-6)
1 1 3 5 33

Game Summary

Event Summary

 

Top Notes

  • Sam Reinhart opened the scoring just 18 seconds into tonight’s game. It was the Sabres’ fastest goal from the beginning of a game since Johan Larsson scored 18 seconds into a 4-3 victory on Dec. 1, 2016 against the New York Rangers.
  • Jack Eichel scored twice tonight, becoming the third player in the NHL to reach the 20-goal mark this season and extending his career-best point streak to 14 games (12+13). He’s now one game shy of Patrick Kane’s 15-game streak for the longest in the NHL this season.
  • Eichel’s second goal was the 13th empty-net goal of his career, tying Gilbert Perreault and Miroslav Satan for the most empty-netters in Sabres history.
  • With his goal and an assist tonight, Reinhart now has five points (3+2) in his last four games.
  • After recording two assists tonight, Victor Olofsson now has 18 points (6+12) in his last 17 games, including two-point performances in four of the team’s last five games.
  • With a two-point night (1+1), Johan Larsson has recorded his first three-game point streak since November 2016. He now has nine points (2+7) and a plus-9 rating in Buffalo’s last seven contests.
  • Linus Ullmark made 28 saves in the win. He has now stopped 79 of 85 shots (.929) in his three career meetings with St. Louis.
  • Ullmark is now 5-1-1 with a .923 save percentage in his last seven appearances.

 

Tonight’s Goaltenders

Tonight’s Stats
Team Goaltender Decision GA SA
Blues Allen L 3 31
Sabres Ullmark W 2 30
Updated Season Stats
Team Goaltender Record SV% GAA
Blues Allen 5-2-2 .925 2.33
Sabres Ullmark 9-6-2 .915 2.83

 

Post-Game Audio

Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger

Sabres forward Jack Eichel

Sabres forward Johan Larsson

Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark

Blues head coach Craig Berube

Blues forward Troy Brouwer

Blues forward David Perron

Blues goaltender Jake Allen