Game Preview: 2/16/20 vs. Toronto

GAME-DAY RESOURCES

Game Notes NHL Stats Press Clips

LAST GAME
Thursday, February 13
Columbus 3 at Buffalo 4 (OT)
Goals: Olofsson (2), Eichel, Rodrigues
Goalie: Hutton (28 saves/31 shots)
PP: 1/1; PK: 1/1; Shots: Columbus 31 – Buffalo 27

CURRENT INJURIES – (Man Games Lost: 284)
Player (injury, first game missed) – total games missed
Matt Hunwick (neck, Oct. 3; injured reserve) – 58 games
Vladimir Sobotka (knee, Nov. 9; injured reserve) – 42 games
Tage Thompson (shoulder, Nov. 19; injured reserve) – 38 games
Linus Ullmark (lower body, Jan. 30; injured reserve) – 8 games
Marcus Johansson (upper body, Feb. 13) – 1 game

TRANSACTIONS IN PAST 7 DAYS
2/10: Assigned G Andrew Hammond to Rochester (AHL)
2/13: Assigned F Scott Wilson to Rochester (AHL); Activated F Kyle Okposo and F Victor Olofsson from IR
2/14: Placed D Zach Bogosian on waivers; Assigned D Lawrence Pilut to Rochester (AHL)
2/15: Recalled D John Gilmour and G Andrew Hammond from Rochester (AHL); Assigned D Zach Bogosian to Rochester

UPCOMING GAMES
Tuesday, Feb. 18: Buffalo at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 22: Buffalo at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 23: Winnipeg at Buffalo, 3 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 26: Buffalo at Colorado, 8 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 28: Buffalo at Vegas, 10 p.m.

TONIGHT’S GAME
MAPLE LEAFS at SABRES

  • This is the fourth and final meeting between the Sabres and Maple Leafs this season.
  • Last meeting: Toronto defeated Buffalo 5-3 in Toronto on Dec. 17, 2019.
  • The Sabres are 2-6-2 in their last 10 games vs. the Maple Leafs; 5-4-1 at home.
  • This is the 218th game all-time between Buffalo and Toronto; Buffalo has a 116-73-28 series record.
  • The Sabres are 71-29-9 at home against the Maple Leafs all-time.

THIS DATE IN SABRES HISTORY

  • The Sabres are 13-4-4 all-time on February 16.
  • February 16, 2004: Miroslav Satan scores a career-high four goals, including his 250th NHL goal and 500th NHL point, leading the Sabres to a 7-2 victory vs. Atlanta.
  • February 16, 2012: Thomas Vanek scores his 225th NHL goal in a 7-2 loss at Philadelphia, passing Miroslav Satan for seventh-most goals in team history. Vanek would finish his time with the Sabres ranked fifth in team history with 254 career regular-season goals.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • Today’s game is the final in a 20-day stretch during which the Sabres played nine of 10 games at home. The lone road game during that span was a 3-2 win on Feb. 7 at NY Rangers. After today, the team will play six of its next seven games on the road.
  • The Sabres are 20-5-2 in their last 27 home games against the Maple Leafs.
  • Jack Eichel has recorded seven multi-point games in his last 12 games against the Maple Leafs.
  • Rasmus Dahlin has totaled five points (1+4) in five career meetings with Toronto, including two points (1+1) in his sole matchup with the Maple Leafs this season on Dec. 17.
  • Victor Olofsson has three points (1+2) in three games against the Maple Leafs this season.
  • Carter Hutton is 3-1-1 with a .925 save percentage in six career games against Toronto.
  • Sam Reinhart has recorded 17 points (9+8) in 17 games since the beginning of January. His nine goals during that stretch tied for 10th-most in the league entering play Saturday.

EICHEL AND THE LEAFS

  • Jack Eichel has totaled 22 points (13+9) in 16 career games against Toronto, including 11 points (7+4) in seven home games.
  • His 1.4 points per game against the Maple Leafs is his third-best career output against any NHL team, trailing only his 1.5 points per game against the Ottawa Senators and Vegas Golden Knights.
  • Eichel has scored more goals against the Maple Leafs (13) than against any other NHL opponent.
  • His .81 goals per game against Toronto also represents his highest rate against any NHL team. Among active NHL players with at least five career games against the Maple Leafs, only Alex Ovechkin (.82) has scored at a higher rate against Toronto.

RETURN OF THE ROOKIE

  • Victor Olofsson, who missed 15 games with a lower body injury from Jan. 4 to Feb. 11, scored twice in his return to the lineup on Thursday vs. Columbus. The overtime winner was his first career overtime goal and his fourth game-winning goal of the season.
  • Entering play Saturday, Olofsson ranked second among all NHL rookies with 18 goals this season.
  • Olofsson’s 37 points in 43 games so far this season match Dave Andreychuk’s total from his 43-game rookie season with the Sabres in 1982-83. Olofsson’s current .860 points per game this season ties Andreychuk for the fourth-best scoring rate among Sabres rookies with at least 15 games played:
    • Rick Martin (1971-72): 1.014 PTS/GP
    • Gilbert Perreault (1970-71): .923 PTS/GP
    • Ray Sheppard (1987-88): .878 PTS/GP
    • Victor Olofsson (2019-20)/Dave Andreychuk (1982-83): .860 PTS/GP
    • Phil Housley (1982-83): .857 PTS/GP
    • Christian Ruuttu (1986-87): .855 PTS/GP

TEEN TITAN

  • Rasmus Dahlin has totaled 78 points (13+65) through his first 130 NHL games, including 34 points (4+30) in 48 games this season.
  • With his assist on Feb. 13 vs. Columbus, Dahlin surpassed Rick Hampton (76) for third-most points recorded by an NHL defenseman before his 20th birthday. He now trails only Phil Housley (132) and Ray Bourque (79) for most points ever recorded by a teenage defenseman.
  • Aaron Ekblad’s 61 points (22+39) in 129 games as a teenager led active NHL defensemen for most points before turning 20 until Dahlin recorded his 62nd point with an assist in his 108th NHL game on Dec. 14 at NY Islanders. Andrei Svechnikov is the only active teenager in the NHL with more career points than Dahlin’s 78.
  • Entering play Saturday, Dahlin’s .60 points per game in his career ranked as the 14th-highest rate among active NHL defensemen with at least 10 career games played. His .71 points per game so far this season represent the best single-season scoring rate by a Sabres defenseman with at least 15 games played since Phil Housley (1.01) in 1989-90.

SETTING THE PACE

  • With his 29th goal in his 49th game of the season on Jan. 28 vs. Ottawa, Jack Eichel topped his previous best total set in the 2018-19 season (77 GP). He now has 32 goals in 57 games played this season.
  • Eichel’s output through 58 team games currently has him on pace to finish the season with 45 goals and 104 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) and Mogilny (78 in 1992-93) are the only Sabres ever to have recorded more even-strength points in a season than the 71 Eichel is currently on pace for.
  • Eichel is on pace to become just the ninth player in franchise history to record 80 points in back-to-back seasons at least once, joining Danny Gare, Dale Hawerchuk, Pat LaFontaine, Rick Martin, Alexander Mogilny, Gilbert Perreault, Rene Robert and Pierre Turgeon.
  • Sam Reinhart scored his 20th goal of the season in his 55th game on Feb. 7 at NY Rangers, surpassing the 2015-16 season as his previous quickest season to 20 goals (69 games). Reinhart is currently on pace to set career-high totals in both goals (30) and points (68).
  • Despite missing 10 games due to injury, Rasmus Dahlin is currently on pace to record 51 points this season, which would make him the Sabres’ first 50-point defenseman since Garry Galley (54) in 1995-96.
  • Victor Olofsson, who has missed 15 games due to injury this season, is on pace for 58 points, which would rank as the seventh-most prolific rookie season in Sabres history and the best since Ray Sheppard’s 65 points in 1987-88. He is on pace for 28 goals, which would rank him sixth among all rookies in franchise history.

JACK ATTACK

  • Jack Eichel has been held without a point in just four of his last 39 games played. During that stretch, which began with a four-goal performance vs. Ottawa on Nov. 16, Buffalo’s captain has totaled 54 points (24+30) in 39 appearances, also missing one game due to injury. Only Artemi Panarin (56) had more points during that stretch entering play Saturday.
    • Entering play Saturday, only three NHL players had recorded at least a point in more games this season than Eichel’s 43: Leon Draisaitl (47), Nathan MacKinnon (46) and Patrick Kane (44).
  • With his assist on Feb. 11 vs. Detroit, Eichel became the 14th player ever to record 70 points in consecutive seasons at least once as a member of the Sabres. The last player to do so was Derek Roy in 2007-08 (81) and 2008-09 (70).
  • Eichel recorded his 70th point of the season in his 56th game on Feb. 11 vs. Detroit, tying for the 10th-fastest season to 70 points in Sabres history. Only six different players in franchise history have reached the 70-point mark quicker: Gilbert Perreault (3x), Pat Lafontaine (2x), Rick Martin, Alexander Mogilny, Rene Robert, Pierre Turgeon.
  • With his 40th assist on Feb. 13 vs. Columbus, Eichel became the first Sabres player to record 30 goals and 40 assists in a season since Jason Pominville (30+43) in 2011-12. He became the 16th different player in franchise history to accomplish this feat at least once.

POINTS IN BUNCHES

  • Jack Eichel has recorded 19 multi-point games this season, tying as the 10th-most in the NHL before Saturday’s games. The Sabres are 14-3-2 (.789) in those games.
  • Entering play Saturday, Eichel’s six multi-goal games tied for fifth-most in the league and his 11 multi-assist games tied for seventh-most.
  • Eichel has recorded at least three points eight times this season, topping his previous career-high total (6) set in the 2016-17 season. Only Leon Draisaitl (11), Connor McDavid (11) and David Pastrnak (10) had more games with at least three points this season entering play Saturday.
  • Sam Reinhart ranks second on the Sabres with 12 multi-point games this season. The team is 9-2-1 this season (.792) and 40-7-8 (.800) in his career when he records at least two points.

SABRES AMONG LEAGUE-LEADERS (Sabres’ league rankings before 2/15 games)

  • Eichel: 3 OTG (T-2nd), 24 EVG (3rd), 7 GWG (T-3rd), 32 G (T-4th), 50 EVP (T-4th), 73 PTS (6th), 22 PPP (T-10th)
  • Olofsson: 10 PPG (T-9th)

SABRES REAL-TIME STATS LEADERS
Hits: Ristolainen (171), Girgensons (92), McCabe (75)
Blocked Shots: McCabe (75), Ristolainen (66), Jokiharju (53)
Shots: Eichel (193), Skinner (149), Reinhart (122)

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: 4-5-1 (9), 24/32, 4/23, 23/30
41-50: 5-5-0 (10), 30/32, 7/29, 21/29
51-60: 4-3-1 (9), 19/24, 3/16, 12/14

OVERTIME RESULTS (6-6; 126-134 all-time)
Oct. 7 at CBJ: L, 4-3 (Texier, 2:08)
Oct. 9 vs. MTL: W, 5-4 (Johansson, 1:30)
Oct. 22 vs. SJS: W, 4-3 (Eichel, 3:13)
Nov. 14 vs. CAR: L, 5-4 (Hamilton, 2:28)
Nov. 27 vs. CGY: L, 3-2 (Lindholm, 1:17)
Nov. 30 at TOR: L, 2-1 (Tavares, 1:45)
Dec. 7 at VAN: L, 6-5 (Miller, 3:21)
Dec. 8 at EDM: W, 3-2 (Miller, 1:13)
Dec. 14 at NYI: L, 3-2 (Beauvillier, 3:04)
Jan. 2 vs. EDM: W, 3-2 (Eichel, 1:09)
Feb. 1 vs. CBJ: W, 2-1 (Eichel, 0:36)
Feb. 13 vs. CBJ: W, 4-3 (Olofsson, 2:44)

SHOOTOUT RESULTS (1-2; 76-71 all-time)
Oct. 11 vs. FLA: W, 3-2 (GDG-Eichel)
Oct. 28 vs. ARI: L, 3-2 (GDG-Schmaltz)
Feb. 6 vs. DET: L, 4-3 (GDG-Larkin)

MILESTONES APPROACHING (Player … Needs … Milestone)
Games Played
Henri Jokiharju … 4 games … 100 career games played
Jimmy Vesey … 6 games … 300 career games played
Colin Miller … 8 games … 300 career games played
Evan Rodrigues … 10 games … 200 career games played
Goals
Kyle Okposo … 8 goals … 200 career goals
Assists
Jack Eichel … 1 assist … 200 career assists
Points
Kyle Okposo … 1 point … 500 career points
Johan Larsson … 8 points … 100 career points
Wins
Carter Hutton … 9 wins … 100 career wins 

RECENT MILESTONES
N/A

SABRES RECALL GILMOUR, HAMMOND

The Buffalo Sabres have recalled defenseman John Gilmour and goaltender Andrew Hammond from the Rochester Americans (AHL).


Highlights:

  • Signed with the Sabres on July 1, 2019 and appeared in his first four games with the team earlier this season.
  • Made his Sabres debut on Oct. 25 at Detroit and logged a season-high 19:56 of ice time on Nov. 1 at Washington.
  • Was named to the 2018-19 AHL First All-Star Team after finishing last season among the AHL’s top 10 defensemen in goals (2nd), assists (8th), points (2nd) and game-winning goals (2nd).

 


Highlights:

  • Signed with Buffalo as a free agent on July 1, 2019 after posting the best goals-against average of his AHL career (2.81) in 2018-19 with the Iowa Wild. Is currently on pace to set a new AHL career-best mark this season.
  • Joins the Sabres for his second recall of the season after dressing as the team’s backup on Feb. 9 vs. Anaheim.
  • Has played in parts of five NHL seasons, earning all but one of his 56 career appearances with the Ottawa Senators.

Post-Game Report: 2/13 vs. Columbus

Final Score

1st 2nd 3rd OT SO Final SOG
Blue Jackets
(30-17-11)
1 1 1 0 3 31
Sabres
(26-24-8)
0 1 2 1 4 27

Game Summary

Event Summary

 

Top Notes

  • With tonight’s win, the Sabres have won their season series against the Blue Jackets for the first time since 2015-16. All three games in the series were won in overtime by the home team.
  • Victor Olofsson scored twice tonight in his first game back after missing 15 games due to injury, including his first career overtime goal. He finished the game with sole possession of second place among NHL rookies with 18 goals this season.
  • Rasmus Dahlin recorded an assist on both of Olofsson’s goals and now has at least one assist in all three games against Columbus this season.
    • In six career games against the Blue Jackets, Dahlin has collected six assists.
  • With his first assist, Dahlin passed Rick Hampton (76) for third-most points recorded by an NHL defenseman before his 20th birthday. He now trails only Phil Housley (132) and Ray Bourque (79) for most points ever recorded by a teenage defenseman.
  • Dahlin’s second assist of the game was his 30th of the season. He joins Phil Housley as the second defenseman in franchise history to record at least 30 assists in his first two NHL seasons.
  • Jack Eichel (1+2) recorded his 19th multi-point game of the season. The Sabres are 14-3-2 in those games. Eichel has recorded at least three points eight times this season, topping his previous career-high total (6) set in the 2016-17 season.
  • Eichel’s first assist was his 40th of the season. He became the first Sabres player to record 30 goals and 40 assists in a season since Jason Pominville (30+43) in 2011-12.
  • Evan Rodrigues scored and now has four points (3+1) in four games against Columbus in the last two seasons.
  • Carter Hutton recorded his sixth career assist on Buffalo’s third goal. It was the first assist by a Sabres goaltender since Hutton tallied an assist on Feb. 23, 2019 vs. Washington.

 

Tonight’s Goaltenders

Tonight’s Stats
Team Goaltender Decision GA SA
Blue Jackets
Kivlenieks O 4 27
Sabres Hutton W 3 31
Updated Season Stats
Team Goaltender Record SV% GAA
Blue Jackets Kivlenieks 1-0-2 .916 2.30
Sabres Hutton 10-9-4 .896 3.17

 

Post-Game Audio

Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger

Sabres forward Victor Olofsson

Sabres forward Jack Eichel

Sabres forward Evan Rodrigues

Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella

Blue Jackets forward Nathan Gerbe

Blue Jackets forward Liam Foudy

Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov

Game Preview: 2/13/20 vs. Columbus

GAME-DAY RESOURCES

Game Notes NHL Stats Press Clips

LAST GAME
Tuesday, February 11
Detroit 2 at Buffalo 3
Goals: Sheary, Johansson, Reinhart
Goalie: Hutton (27 saves/29 shots)
PP: 0/3; PK: 3/3; Shots: Detroit 29 – Buffalo 25

CURRENT INJURIES – (Man Games Lost: 279)
Player (injury, first game missed) – total games missed
Matt Hunwick (neck, Oct. 3; injured reserve) – 57 games
Vladimir Sobotka (knee, Nov. 9; injured reserve) – 41 games
Tage Thompson (shoulder, Nov. 19; injured reserve) – 37 games
Victor Olofsson (lower body, Jan. 4) – 15 games
Linus Ullmark (lower body, Jan. 30; injured reserve) – 7 games
Kyle Okposo (upper body, Feb. 1) – 6 games
Marcus Johansson (upper body, Feb. 13) – 0 games

TRANSACTIONS IN PAST 7 DAYS
2/8: Assigned F Rasmus Asplund and D Lawrence Pilut to Rochester (AHL)
2/9: Recalled D Lawrence Pilut and G Andrew Hammond from Rochester (AHL)
2/10: Assigned G Andrew Hammond to Rochester (AHL)
2/13: Assigned F Scott Wilson to Rochester (AHL); Activated F Kyle Okposo and F Victor Olofsson from IR

UPCOMING GAMES
Sunday, Feb. 16: Toronto at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 18: Buffalo at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 22: Buffalo at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 23: Winnipeg at Buffalo, 3 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 26: Buffalo at Colorado, 8 p.m.

TONIGHT’S GAME
BLUE JACKETS at SABRES

  • This is the third and final meeting between the Sabres and Blue Jackets this season.
  • Last meeting: Buffalo defeated Columbus 2-1 (OT) in Buffalo on Feb. 1
  • The Sabres are 4-4-2 in their last 10 games vs. the Blue Jackets; 4-5-1 at home.
  • This is the 35th game all-time between Buffalo and Columbus; Buffalo has a 13-17-4 series record.
  • The Sabres are 8-9-1 at home against the Blue Jackets all-time.

THIS DATE IN SABRES HISTORY

  • The Sabres are 8-5-5 all-time on February 13.
  • February 13, 2004: The Sabres score seven unanswered goals in a 17-minute span and get points from 12 players to top the Los Angeles Kings 8-3 in Buffalo.
  • February 13, 2011: Drew Stafford scores three goals to earn his league-high fourth hat trick of the 2010-11 season.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • Today’s game is the ninth in a 20-day stretch during which the Sabres play nine of 10 games at home. The lone road game during that span was a 3-2 win on Friday at NY Rangers. The final game of this stretch will take place on Sunday vs. Toronto.
  • With a victory tonight, the Sabres would win their season series against the Blue Jackets for the first time since 2015-16.
  • Sam Reinhart has recorded 16 points (9+7) in 16 games since the beginning of January. His nine goals during that stretch tied for eighth-most in the league entering play Wednesday.

HOT AGAINST COLUMBUS

  • Jack Eichel has totaled eight points (4+4) in seven career home games against the Blue Jackets.
  • Jeff Skinner has recorded 14 points (7+7) in his last 15 meetings with Columbus, including four points (3+1) in five games since joining the Sabres.
  • Rasmus Dahlin has posted four assists in five career games against the Blue Jackets, including an assist in each of this season’s previous matchups.
  • Evan Rodrigues, who scored in the last meeting between the Sabres and Blue Jackets, has totaled five points (4+1) in his last seven games against Columbus.

TEEN TITAN

  • Rasmus Dahlin has totaled 76 points (13+63) through his first 129 NHL games, including 32 points (4+28) in 47 games this season.
  • With his assist on Feb. 11 vs. Detroit, Dahlin tied Rick Hampton (76) for third-most points recorded by an NHL defenseman before his 20th birthday. He now trails only Phil Housley (132) and Ray Bourque (79) for most points ever recorded by a teenage defenseman.
  • Aaron Ekblad’s 61 points (22+39) in 129 games as a teenager led active NHL defensemen for most points before turning 20 until Dahlin recorded his 62nd point with an assist in his 108th NHL game on Dec. 14 at NY Islanders. Andrei Svechnikov is the only active teenager in the NHL with more career points than Dahlin’s 76.
  • Entering play Wednesday, Dahlin’s .59 points per game in his career ranked as the 16th-highest rate among active NHL defensemen with at least 10 career games played. His .681 points per game so far this season represent the best single-season scoring rate by a Sabres defenseman since Brian Campbell (.683) in 2007-08.

SETTING THE PACE

  • With his 29th goal in his 49th game of the season on Jan. 28 vs. Ottawa, Jack Eichel topped his previous best total set in the 2018-19 season (77 GP). He now has 31 goals in 56 games played this season.
  • Eichel’s output through 57 team games currently has him on pace to finish the season with 45 goals and 101 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), Mogilny (78 in 1992-93) and Gilbert Perreault (70 in 1975-76) are the only Sabres ever to have recorded more even-strength points in a season than the 69 Eichel is currently on pace for.
  • Eichel is on pace to become just the ninth player in franchise history to record 80 points in back-to-back seasons at least once, joining Danny Gare, Dale Hawerchuk, Pat LaFontaine, Rick Martin, Alexander Mogilny, Gilbert Perreault, Rene Robert and Pierre Turgeon.
  • Sam Reinhart scored his 20th goal of the season in his 55th game on Feb. 7 at NY Rangers, surpassing the 2015-16 season as his previous quickest season to 20 goals (69 games). Reinhart is currently on pace to set career-high totals in both goals (30) and points (68).

JACK ATTACK

  • Jack Eichel has been held without a point in just four of his last 38 games played. During that stretch, which began with a four-goal performance vs. Ottawa on Nov. 16, Buffalo’s captain has totaled 51 points (23+28) in 38 appearances, also missing one game due to injury.
    • Entering play Wednesday, only three NHL players have recorded at least a point in more games this season than Eichel’s 42: Leon Draisaitl (46), Nathan MacKinnon (45) and Patrick Kane (44).
  • With his assist on Feb. 11 vs. Detroit, Eichel became the 14th player ever to record 70 points in consecutive seasons at least once as a member of the Sabres. The last player to do so was Derek Roy in 2007-08 (81) and 2008-09 (70).
  • Eichel recorded his 70th point of the season in his 56th game on Feb. 11 vs. Detroit, tying for the 10th-fastest season to 70 points in Sabres history. Only six different players in franchise history have reached the 70-point mark quicker: Gilbert Perreault (3x), Pat Lafontaine (2x), Rick Martin, Alexander Mogilny, Rene Robert, Pierre Turgeon.
  • With his 30th goal on Jan. 30 vs. Montreal, Jack Eichel became the first Sabres player to record 30 goals and 30 assists in a season since Jason Pominville (30+43) in 2011-12. He became the 23rd different player in franchise history to accomplish this feat at least once and tied Gilbert Perreault’s 1974-75 season as the sixth-fewest games needed to reach the 30/30 mark (50).

POINTS IN BUNCHES

  • Jack Eichel has recorded 18 multi-point games this season, tying as the 10th-most in the NHL before Wednesday’s games. The Sabres are 13-3-2 (.778) in those games.
  • Entering play Wednesday, Eichel’s six multi-goal games tied for fourth-most in the league and his 10 multi-assist games tied for ninth-most.
  • Eichel has recorded at least three points seven times this season, topping his previous career-high total (6) set in the 2016-17 season. Only Leon Draisaitl (11), Connor McDavid (11), David Pastrnak (9) and Artemi Panarin (8) had more games with at least three points this season entering play Wednesday.
  • Sam Reinhart ranks second on the Sabres with 12 multi-point games this season. The team is 9-2-1 this season (.792) and 40-7-8 (.800) in his career when he records at least two points.

SABRES AMONG LEAGUE-LEADERS (Sabres’ league rankings before 2/12 games)

  • Eichel: 3 OTG (T-2nd), 23 EVG (T-3rd), 7 GWG (3rd), 48 EVP (6th), 31 G (T-6th), 70 PTS (T-6th), 21 PPP (T-9th)
  • Ristolainen: 170 hits (T-10th)

SABRES REAL-TIME STATS LEADERS
Hits: Ristolainen (170), Girgensons (91), McCabe (74)
Blocked Shots: McCabe (74), Ristolainen (64), Jokiharju (51)
Shots: Eichel (188), Skinner (147), Reinhart (122)

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: 4-5-1 (9), 24/32, 4/23, 23/30
41-50: 5-5-0 (10), 30/32, 7/29, 21/29
51-60: 3-3-1 (7), 15/21, 2/15, 11/13

OVERTIME RESULTS (5-6; 125-134 all-time)
Oct. 7 at CBJ: L, 4-3 (Texier, 2:08)
Oct. 9 vs. MTL: W, 5-4 (Johansson, 1:30)
Oct. 22 vs. SJS: W, 4-3 (Eichel, 3:13)
Nov. 14 vs. CAR: L, 5-4 (Hamilton, 2:28)
Nov. 27 vs. CGY: L, 3-2 (Lindholm, 1:17)
Nov. 30 at TOR: L, 2-1 (Tavares, 1:45)
Dec. 7 at VAN: L, 6-5 (Miller, 3:21)
Dec. 8 at EDM: W, 3-2 (Miller, 1:13)
Dec. 14 at NYI: L, 3-2 (Beauvillier, 3:04)
Jan. 2 vs. EDM: W, 3-2 (Eichel, 1:09)
Feb. 1 vs. CBJ: W, 2-1 (Eichel, 0:36)

SHOOTOUT RESULTS (1-2; 76-71 all-time)
Oct. 11 vs. FLA: W, 3-2 (GDG-Eichel)
Oct. 28 vs. ARI: L, 3-2 (GDG-Schmaltz)
Feb. 6 vs. DET: L, 4-3 (GDG-Larkin)

MILESTONES APPROACHING (Player … Needs … Milestone)
Games Played
Henri Jokiharju … 5 games … 100 career games played
Jimmy Vesey … 7 games … 300 career games played
Scott Wilson … 7 games … 200 career games played
Colin Miller … 9 games … 300 career games played
Goals
Kyle Okposo … 8 goals … 200 career goals
Assists
Jack Eichel … 3 assists … 200 career assists
Points
Kyle Okposo … 1 point … 500 career points
Zach Bogosian … 6 points … 200 career points
Johan Larsson … 8 points … 100 career points
Wins
Carter Hutton … 10 wins … 100 career wins

RECENT MILESTONES
N/A

Ralph Krueger Interview – Howard and Jeremy (2/12/20)

February 12, 2020

 

Ralph Krueger

Howard and Jeremy (8:30 a.m.)

https://wgr550.radio.com/media/audio-channel/02-12-sabres-head-coach-ralph-krueger (17:47)

 

Howard Simon: Ralph, it’s Howard and Brayton. Good morning. Welcome to the show. Happy Wednesday, sir.

Ralph Krueger: Good morning, Howard. How are you?

HS: Good, I had to stop and make sure it was Wednesday, actually, because I hate wishing someone a happy wrong day. So, yeah, it is.

RK: Wednesday it is.

 

HS: So, listen, there are a number of players I want to ask you about, but in terms of the game, let me get a couple things in from last night. I’m not sure you could’ve started off worse than giving up a goal on your first shift. So, I guess, talk about how important it was to get the goal back on the next shift of the game.

RK: Overall, the storyline, we did make it tough on ourselves. We really had that difficult start, but you can see, there is a maturity in our group developing where we’re quite calm in those situations. It was good to get it back that quickly. We went down again [the] next period, dug ourselves out and then won the third, which was very important. We were tested last night, but I liked the resiliency of the group. The defensive structure was solid. Detroit had some fresh bodies coming back into the lineup, like (Anthony) Mantha and (Frans) Nielsen, (Mike) Green. They had some more offensive power than a week ago. We neutralized that, got the win. Overall, a good night. Our fans were fantastic last night too.

 

HS: What did you see that you liked from the line of (Marcus) Johansson, (Curtis) Lazar and (Conor) Sheary?

RK: Well it was interesting to move Johansson onto the wing and free him from his defensive responsibility. Curtis Lazar’s been a solid player for us in both directions, leading in our penalty killing group and winning big faceoffs and (Lazar) just kind of gives Johansson a bit of freedom. Conor Sheary and Johansson seem to have a little bit of synergy. We watched them, there’s some chemistry there and we saw that especially on the first goal and Johansson scoring the second goal was important for his confidence at the moment. Overall, a line that was good in both directions, able to play up against (Dylan) Larkin, their top line on multiple occasions. Yeah, we liked the look of that and we’ll probably giving it another look tomorrow.

 

HS: I can never remember “Jo-hansson,” “Yo-hansson.” Both of them are “Yo-hanssons,” Ralph?

RK: Yeah, don’t forget that I’ve been living in Europe most of my life. Over there we would say “Yo-hansson,” here people say “Jo-hansson.” I think it’s fine for the guys as long as we say their name.

 

HS: With Johansson, after the game you talked about how you thought he played a little more freely because he didn’t have to worry about the center responsibilities. He talked about feeling comfortable on the wing. For the time being, will you keep him there?

RK: It’s always something within the game, depending on how it’s going, if we want to push for offense, we can always move him there. It’s good to have that option, but at the moment, barring any injuries up the middle, we’d like to try and keep him there and let him evolve. We need more depth offensively with offense with (Victor) Olofsson and (Kyle) Okposo on the verge of returning, we’re expecting to be a more formidable offensive team, so hopefully Johansson on the wing gives us that power too.

 

HS: Is Lazar now, as you look down the middle on the depth chart, is Lazar now, you think, now your best option after [Jack] Eichel?

RK: We really just don’t rate things that way. If you look at what the Larsson line’s done, playing up and down, depending on what we need. They often match up against the top line of the other team for the entire game. It really has to do with faceoff situations, has to do with the flow of the game, has to do with the way the line is playing up against the opposition. We really don’t think that way; one, two, three, four. Clearly, Jack’s line gets the majority of the ice team. We all know that Jack Eichel’s our leader, both on and off the ice. Otherwise, it’s really nice the way we played a four-line game yesterday. It’s very rare this season where we felt that strength right through the lineup. We really could’ve trusted anybody to play against Larkin and/or give us something offensively, as well as being responsible defensively yesterday. So that’s the way we’d like to go moving forward. The good teams in the league have that power.

 

HS: (Jeff) Skinner, the goal drought is now at 19 (games). It’s a career-high for him. He gets the odd shift every now and then with Jack Eichel and with Sam Reinhart. I know last time we were on with you, we brought up the idea of him on the No. 1 power play and he eventually got some time there, but he still hasn’t been able to score a goal. When it comes to Skinner and usage, Ralph, I know all the fans are wondering about it — we are too — why not just give him a full game, a shot with Eichel with Reinhart? Not just a shift, but say, “Okay, you’re going on their line and let’s see what happens.”

RK: We wake up every here growing the team, and we wake up every morning here doing what’s best for the team. We do not make decisions here based on individual needs, we base our decisions on the mixes and the chemistry and the lineup that we think is strongest for the Buffalo Sabres. That’s the way we work, and that’s the way we’re going to continue to work. When Jack’s playing up against the top lines and top D-pairs of the other team, we need other lines to be able to produce against the second and third pairs of the opposition. We do not make decision for individuals, quite clearly, here. Everything is about the team; everything is about the team game. That’s the way the Buffalo Sabres are going to be built moving forward and that’s the way we’re going to become competitive in the National Hockey League. We’re going to hold that line. We believe in it, we feel confident in it, the guys are embracing it. What we have to learn is to finish games better. We have to learn as a group to manage our specialty teams better. We’re excited about what’s going on here behind the closed doors. We understand people aren’t happy with the results, and they’d like to see us with six, seven, eight points more in the standings. But, again, it’s all about the team here, and we will continue to work in that way.

 

HS: Couldn’t you make a case though, if you got Skinner going and he started scoring, that is best for — not only best for him — but it is best for the team? You’re getting more goals.

RK: Oh yeah, he’s getting opportunity. He’s getting opportunity. He’s trying and he’s working on it. When he gets one, he’s a bunch scorer, he’ll get a bunch. But I appreciate your opinion.

 

HS: Yeah, well it’s frustrating. And I guess, the other thing was, I coupled this with Olofsson being out. When Olofsson was there — and I know earlier in the season you had talked about it — you want to get balance, you don’t want to be a one-line team. Olofsson was producing, so why screw around with that line; he’s doing well. With him out, (Zemgus) Girgensons got a shot, (Jimmy) Vesey’s now getting a shot, and I just thought, to try and get Skinner’s game right, you didn’t have to leave him there, but Ralph, I think anybody will succeed with Eichel and Reinhart. Get him up there, get him some confidence. He puts in a few goals, you move him back down, Olofsson goes back in, whatever, and then maybe you’ve got a consistent second line of scoring going.

RK: Yeah, I appreciate your opinion, Howard. That’s good to hear. Thanks.

 

HS: In terms of ice time for Eichel: what’d he have? 20 minutes or whatever it was against Anaheim. I think last night in the third period, I think you maybe double shifted that line early in the third period. But he only had 20 last night, so how do you balance out, “That is my best line. That’s the guys I want on the ice. But I can’t play them 28 minutes a night?”

RK: Again, we are truly trying to work in a small picture here. There are a lot of distractions and there are a lot of things pulling us, at times, in the wrong direction in and around our development. Everybody’s got a right to their opinion, and they’re going to fight against our process as long as the results aren’t exactly what everybody wants. It’s the same with the way we manage minutes during a game; we do what we feel is right to the game. Yesterday was a good four-line game going. Against Anaheim, we did not have a four-line game going, we needed to reduce our roster really quick. Jack was playing either side of timeouts. We’re going to always do, on the day, what we think is going to give us the best chance to win. There’s not a day where we’re not going to go after the W. This group’s got no quit in it. We appreciate the way the guys are always fighting back. We have fallen behind too much of late, and we need to work on getting some leads here in the next games. But Jack’s minutes aren’t planned before the game. He dictates that, often, and the game dictates that. That’s what makes it fun. It’s the greatest game to be coaching. I just love coaching the game of hockey where you are really, truly submersed in the moment. Where you submerse with a feeling of who’s on today and who’s off. Do I always get it right? No way. I’m going to make mistakes. I always have, I always will. They’re there because you try, and you risk, and you attempt to do things. Jack’s just been fantastic in the process, whether he plays 20 minutes or he plays 28, he’s going to give his best every single shift. He’s as hardworking as anybody on the team. What a leader he is moving forward it’s exciting what we have here for core players, for young players that are all in and Jack is definitely at the lead of all that.

 

HS: I want to ask you about Sam Reinhart, Ralph, in the discussion of always doing what’s best for the team. So, Reinhart, he scored again last night. He’s on pace for career high goals. He’s on pace for career high points. He’s having a tremendous season. Do you think — is he good enough to the bigger-picture discussion of driving his own line? If you put him — and on the wing too, not necessarily at center — if you took him away from Jack and said, “Okay, I need to get more scoring form my offense,” could Reinhart drive a line by himself?

RK: I mean, why would you break up that pair right now? They’re as good a duo as there is in the National Hockey League. The way the synergize, also defensively, we just don’t see that as an option at the moment. Sam Reinhart is a very complete athlete and player. He’s a leader in our group and you’ve got to love the season he’s having. He’s working for everything. The way he complements Jack is outstanding. On the other [wing] with Jack, it’s very important that you have an extremely strong two-way player who is able to free Jack and Sam from defensive responsibilities. Jimmy Vesey’s done an excellent job of that the last few games and that’s the way Jack, for us, needs to be complemented. Sam has just done a fabulous job. Both of them are having seasons that we would like them to bang in year in and year out and what we need is the next layer of scoring to come up closer to them. Right now, Sam’s doing everything we ask and there would be no reason to move him from where he is. 

 

HS: Couple other things, Ralph, before we let you go. One is about Lawrence Pilut. Scratched two of the last three games, a quick trip to Rochester and came back. I wanted to know, could you tell me the process, the thought process and what you go through weighing a youngster like that here — but not playing — versus is it better off for him to be in Rochester playing on a regular basis?

RK: The organization really does a good job of monitoring that. Jason Botterill, Randy Sexton, they’ve got a super feel and quite an experience with the development of players. I’m not nearly as experienced in those processes. I enjoy working together with them and how we manage these players, whether it’s the decisions that were made now around Casey Mittelstadt to make him the best possible player for the future for the club, or the way Curtis Lazar went up and down; the same is going on with Lawrence Pilut. We look at it every day. What’s best for him at the moment, we feel this experience of being in the group, practicing with the group, being in our meetings, feeling what it takes to compete in the National Hockey League in February, in March, in April; this is a different level that’s coming at us now. It’s learning to play good hockey at this time. He’s part of us, he’s here, he’s important for us and we feel comfortable with him jumping in at any time. But we do have to keep an eye on that, Howard. You’re right for sure. You don’t want him to go too long without playing any games at all. So it’s kind of a day-to-day basis. If we don’t need him in the next few games, yeah, he might play some games down in Rochester and then come back again. That’s where management has a good feel. If you look at the job that was done on Victor Olofsson, if you look at the job that’s being done right now on Casey (Mittelstadt), there’s different ways to get the potential out of a player. Lawrence has just been fantastic with us. He’s got a really professional attitude. He works hard on and off the ice. He brings a good spirit. Just adding to our depth on defense. You’ve got it right, we’ve got to make sure we get the right amount of games in too while he’s getting the experience parallel to that.

 

HS: I had an Olympic question for you before we let you go, but I also did forget injury updates, because you mentioned Okposo, you mentioned Olofsson and I guess also (Linus) Ullmark. What’s the latest on those three guys in terms of return to the ice for game situations?

RK: So Olofsson and Okposo joined us full on yesterday and will be full on in practice today, and they become day-to-day. They become day-to-day beginning today. Ullmark still has a few weeks though.

 

HS: The other thing I’m curious about, Ralph: I know you’re busy with the Sabres, I’m not sure if you’re following all this stuff that’s going on with the NHL and the Olympics and whether players are going to participate. You have extensive international tournament coaching experience — what are your thoughts on the idea of the NHL, I know it’s above your pay grade, shutting down the league and all that, but what about the idea of the NHL [sending it’s players to the Olympics]? I think the players are mostly in favor of it. I love it, I think the fans love it. What about the NHL and participation in the Olympics, from your perspective, having been there?

RK: Well I’ve been at four Olympic Games and if you see the experience that players make by going to the Olympic Games, it’s irreplaceable. It goes beyond the game of hockey. You become a part of something much bigger than your sport. To experience that with all the multi-levels of athletes from so many different nations in a true celebration of sports is an experience I wish every player would receive. Would I love to have Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart — leading players here — Dahlin, experience that kind of event? Yes, for sure. I think it makes them wiser and I think it’s an excellent experience. Now, I can’t make a decision on the business side and I would understand if it just doesn’t work for the National Hockey League, but I think it’s an experience that everybody that ever can be a part of needs to be able to have. So, yeah, I’m a big fan of the Olympic Games and what happens to athletes through that experience. It just deepens the journey. For me to be a part of Team Canada in 2014 and winning the gold medal, I know that every one of those players would treasure that experience as top of their career at the end. Hopefully we can find a solution there.

 

HS: Ralph, thanks for your time, thanks for coming on with us this morning and good luck tomorrow night against the Blue Jackets.

RK: Thank you very much, and really a big thank you to the fans. We’ve had a bit of a tough stretch of late. We got a lot of confidence out of the game yesterday against the Red Wings. We’re looking forward to a real good battle against Columbus tomorrow.

HS: We’ll talk to you next week, Ralph.

RK: Thank you.