Tag Archives: Ralph Krueger

Ralph Krueger Interview – Howard & Jeremy (11/27/19)

November 27, 2019

Ralph Krueger
Howard & Jeremy (8 a.m.)
https://wgr550.radio.com/media/audio-channel/11-27-sabres-head-coach-ralph-krueger-with-howard-and-jeremy (6:53)

Howard Simon: Ralph, it’s Howard and Jeremy. Good morning, how are you?

Ralph Krueger: Good morning, gents. It’s good to be back in Buffalo.

HS: So what’s your Thanksgiving plan? What are you doing for tomorrow?

RK: Well you have to remember my life has been predominantly in Europe over the last decades and I grew up before that in Canada, so it’s my first Thanksgiving on U.S. soil while being here so I’ll probably be watching and seeing what everybody does here in America during Thanksgiving.

HS: Well you get to experience watching a Bills game on Thanksgiving, it doesn’t happen that often, but you’ll have to do that tomorrow. 

RK: Yeah, that’ll be a lot of fun. Always enjoy watching the Bills, and I’m really happy how they’re performing and the city’s embracing that. Sean McDermott’s doing a hell of a job there.

HS: Injury update; is there any time frame on Rasmus Dahlin at this point?

RK: No. We’ve had a bit of a grind of late and adding Rasmus to the list is quite disappointing, but again, it’s truly — when you’re dealing with concussions, it’s a day-to-day issue. We’re not expecting him for the next days, but we hope it’s a quick recovery, but again, it’s difficult to guess the timelines on an injury like that.

HS: What was your reaction when you heard that [Erik] Cernak got two games?

RK: We would have rather had a five-minute major within the game because that kind of suspension really does us no good; we don’t see Tampa Bay for a while. But at least it’s confirmation that it was what we thought it was. The player has received a reprimand for that, which is important because that’s the kind of hitting we don’t want to see in the National Hockey League.

HS: Did the refs tell you they just didn’t see it? They missed it?

RK: Yeah.

HS: With Marcus Johansson, Ralph, what’s the update on his return date?

RK: Yeah, I mean we’re going to take a look at him today. He stayed back here in Buffalo. We worked together with him with our rehab team in Buffalo and it looks like it’s progressed positively. We hope that the pre-game skate goes well today. He’s still a question mark for tonight, but I would say more on the positive side of seeing him in the lineup.

HS: And weirdly, that — I’m trying to think, is there anybody else getting close to a return or that’s pretty much it?

RK: No, that’s it right now. Other than that, you know — it would be very good to have him back. He’s an excellent leader for us and a strong influence on the confidence of the group. I think getting him back will be a good thing for all.

HS: How did you think your team played overall on the three-game trip you just had through Boston and Florida?

RK: Well we can’t accept the results because of how we played. I thought Boston was one of our best games of the season right through from start to finish. The management of the score and just understanding what it takes to create more net pressure is something we’re working hard at. I thought in Florida we actually had our weakest of the three and we got the win, so who’s to say what the best way is to approach a game. In Tampa, I think everybody watched the scoring chances and shot clock of the first few periods, we come out down 3-2 and it was quite disappointing when we look at our game management. Our 4-on-4 situation where we allow a goal against and then a shorthander to actually close the game out is quite frustrating when you see the effort to set up an opportunity to get points in Tampa Bay. So we need to take the pain that we’re feeling right now and the adversity we’re under right now as an opportunity to just continue to build our game in the right way and turn those results. I’m sure we’re going to get a strong effort tonight as a reaction to the frustration of coming only back with two points. But again, there is some confirmation on how we need to play, what we need to do to be successful against the top teams in the league. Carrying those habits forward is going to be really important here today.

Jeremy White: Ralph, one thing that can push you guys through is the power play, which started the season red hot and, you know, I would imagine you expect peaks and valleys, it kid of flows a little bit here and there, it’s just the way it generally works, it’s cyclical. Are you seeing teams doing anything differently than they were at the start of the season that maybe you as a coaching staff and as a team have to make adjustments to?

RK: Yeah, I mean, I think everybody knows that we had a hot power play off the hop and Victor Olofsson on the back side was a bit of a surprise. So that’s being eliminated. We need to be better at finding options. We can’t be happy with our power-play production at all with the skill that we have. It will be a major focal point of the game today again. We are self-critical on it and the guys are digging deep and it’s more, we need to bring in more deception. We need to be less readable on where we’re going to attack and how we’re going to attack. We have had scoring chances again on the power play and not finishing our opportunities is probably our biggest weakness at the moment. But our power play will decide where our game goes. It is our motor offensively and it needs to get going here quickly, that’s clear and evident for all.

JW: It seems that some teams that struggle, struggle to get it in the zone. Sometimes you just don’t have the finish there. I would say for your team, the entries seem to be pretty good. Would you consider it a good sign that at least you’re getting into the zone, so you would expect things to kind uptick the other way at some point.

RK: Yeah, no, we’re definitely getting entry. We’re showing strong control in the O-zone. But creating that net pressure we’d like to have possibly similar to our 5-on-5 game, it’s an opportunity for us and we need to fix that very quickly because we need to show more desperation on our power play in the O-zone. And again, we are working on that for tonight.

HS: I know we pulled you out of a game-day meeting, so we’ll let you get you back to work. Appreciate your time and good luck tonight against Calgary.

RK: Thank you, gentleman, and thanks for the positive support and we will do all to make the Thanksgiving celebrations — to set the celebrations off on the right track and I’ll make sure I find a place to have turkey tomorrow night.

HS: You won’t have trouble finding it. Alright, good luck. Thank you, Ralph.

RK: Thank you, have a good day.

Ralph Krueger Interview – Howard & Jeremy (11/20/19)

November 20, 2019


Ralph Krueger

Howard & Jeremy (8 a.m.)

https://wgr550.radio.com/media/audio-channel/11-20-sabres-head-coach-ralph-krueger-howard-and-jeremy (13:22)


Howard Simon: Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger with us right now on the West Herr Hotline. Ralph, it’s Howard and Jeremy. Good morning. Thanks for coming on with us today. I understand your voice is not where it usually is, so we’ll do our best to get you on and off.

Ralph Krueger: Yeah, no, I’m fine, I’m fine. Just a little bit deeper today, that’s all. How are you guys?

HS: Good, good, good.


HS: Look, a lot of issues we want to try and get to in the time we have you. The 8-1-1 start has now turned into 2-7-2 since then. As you look at trying to identify the problems, the issues, what’s changed from the first 10 games to the last 11 games with the record noticeably down?

RK: I think it’s primarily — there’s always multiple things you can look at. When you had the winning streak going, there were things that we were working on, we weren’t happy with and we tried to change. Now, the things we’re not happy with, we’re working on, we’re trying to change or magnify. But it comes down to details. There’s little moments in games where we’re giving up what we were good at, slight changes on the way we’re forechecking and defending. Also, especially in the offense, we’re frustrated right now on the power play, which has gone quite cold and we’re just not creating the offense that we did. So again, we knew it was a project, we know we had a lot of details to work on to make them into habits. We’re at a frustrating point right now, but nobody’s got their heads down, the guys have their heads up. They’re working hard and we believe we’ll find a way out of this.

Jeremy White: One thing, Ralph, I heard from last night, I think I heard you mention it, I think I heard Jack Eichel mention it: the idea that we’re not talking about last year. Is that a message that this organization wants to send that it’s not related at all to last year?

RK: Well I’m not using that language at all because I can’t use it, because I wasn’t here. It’s for everybody else to compare to last year, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, whatever, it’s not really relevant to our story that we’re building this year. What we’re building is a story with a new group of players, some returning, some that we’ve just acquired through the summer. And I think that it’s about developing the best possible version of the Sabres this season. We feel there’s a lot of good things happening. We feel there’s an upside to the group. We’re going to get some bodies back here in the next few day; some key injuries, that are not an excuse, but it’ll be good to have them back and it’ll help solidify the game we need to play again. But right now, we’re working on now, we’re working on today, what can we improve to get better for Boston tomorrow and that’s it.


HS: You weren’t here last season, of course, but the majority of the roster was. Do you believe, you know, whether it’s, “Oh God, here we go again,” or, you mentioned something last night about maybe some fear creeping after a goal against. There are some issues or some things we see from the team that all are similar to what happened last season. So, while you weren’t here, these guys were. Is that a problem?

RK: Well it’s a problem if everybody keeps talking about it, but we’re not talking about it in the room. They’re being asked, obviously like I am here this morning. The only way you can make things better now is by taking care of things that are manageable and what’s in your control. And what’s in our control is to improve on our game again and to get back to the very best version of ourselves. We’ve drifted slightly. It’s only percentage points in this league. We’ve been in every one of these games. There was a couple that got away maybe midway through, but most of them went down the stretch. We need to turn this on our own, we need to work hard; that’s what I know what to do in this situation is to continue to work hard and stay focused. And again, the language from outside, any noise that’s trying to distract us from this, we need to leave it outside and inside the room we need to focus we can control and change and that’s our next challenge, which is Boston.


HS: Rasmus Dahlin was benched for the entire third period against Ottawa and he just doesn’t look like the same player from his rookie year. Is he lacking confidence? What do you see are maybe issues in his game that led you to sit him for the entire third period against the Senators?

RK: Well, you have to remember that that’s about six or seven shifts that he didn’t play and everybody’s making quite a big deal of it. Rasmus didn’t make a big deal of it. We had excellent meetings. We thought he’s responded extremely well. It was not against him, it was for the score and for the players we thought were going to bring the game home on the day, and we’ll continue to do that in the future. It can hit anybody. Important is how he came out of that and his game in Chicago and last night against Minnesota was strong. His play was improved over the game before and I thought it was a process of accountability that he responded well to, and that’s what we like to see. He’s going to continue to improve every day and the Sabres fans have to be very excited about what we have in Rasmus Dahlin.


JW: You dressed seven defensemen, you had a defenseman playing up on the wing as well. You clearly have an overflow of defensemen in the organization. How much — and Jason Botterill spoke yesterday about the need to look for a forward. He’s actively making calls trying to acquire a forward to improve the team — how often are you and Jason talking about what this team does need and what can be done to help things?

RK: Well we’re speaking every single day since I signed, which is an excellent process. Jason and I are strongly connected and in the end it doesn’t affect what I do when I go into the rink and that’s work with the players that are healthy, work with the players that are there and work with the lineup that we have and do the best with this group. The big picture is being run by Jason and his management team, and I’ve got a coaching staff dealing on the day-to-day. But we are strongly connected. Through training camp, all the way through the season. Every day we’re speaking about where this organization wants to go and how we can get there and which players can do it for us. That’s part of the league that, again, he’s dealing with that and I’m dealing with getting players ready on the day.


HS: Do you expect to get [Marcus] Johansson back for tomorrow, Ralph? Or another forward available for tomorrow? Or would you still be in the 11 forward, seven defensemen lineup?

RK: So Johansson and [Johan] Larsson are both day-to-day and are both possible for Boston. Again, we’re doing evaluation this morning and we’ll decide this as the day progresses. Whether they join us in Boston or whether they enter in Florida, but we’re expecting both of them back quite soon.


JW: Ralph, as you struggle to score I’ll probably ask this question every time we talk until it happens — and that doesn’t mean that it ever has to happen — have you given more thought to Jack Eichel with Jeff Skinner on the top line?

RK: Well they’ve played quite a few minutes together on the power play. To spread out our scoring over two lines or three lines is definitely important in the National Hockey League. Everybody is set up that way. The Eichel, [Sam] Reinhart, [Victor] Olofsson line has been the most productive over the last five, six games. Prior to that, the Johansson, Skinner, [Vladimir] Sobotka line was our most productive line in 5-on-5 play. So we had two lines going through a period there. So Sobotka and Johansson out had changed that mix. But Skinner gets quite a few shifts or a lot of minutes with Jack in primary minutes. Yesterday we made some switches on the power play, but that hasn’t been an option for us yet.

JW: When you say it’s not been an option. It’s an option, you just still want to keep the balance.

RK: Yeah, I mean, Jeff he sees the odd shift there with the end of periods. Again, it’s about trying to create two lines of power, which any team competing in the National Hockey League needs to have.


Brayton Wilson: Ralph, Jason talked a little bit during the offseason about Sam Reinhart and how he has the potential to be able to carry play on his own line even when he’s playing on the wing. Have you and Jason talked about that at all with having Reinhart, splitting up Eichel with Reinhart and giving him his own line, and maybe spreading out the production a little bit?

RK: Yeah, I mean, it is what we’re doing, spreading out production. Sam and Jack are just, for us, like twins the way they synergize and the way they communicate and the way they operate offensively, defensively, supporting each other. I’m a coach that generally works in pairs. We had the Johansson-Skinner pair for a while. You had, then, others playing with both of those pairs. So it’s an option, of course, moving forward, but at the moment, we need to find ways over the power play to get things going. That’s going to be the key to our offense against Boston and on the weekend and then in Florida. I know that our power play’s our motor, our engine offensively. We get that going and our 5-on-5 game will follow.


JW: Ralph, two quick ones here. Jack Eichel gets in a fight last night, do you feel like the team should’ve done more to respond?

RK: I mean, he responded, they responded. Anybody that was in the building last night felt, you could feel the fans behind us through the last 30 minutes. There was an attempt to get ourselves back into the game. We tried taking different ways, but when you get down three goals in the National Hockey League it’s not easy to come back. It was our lack of being able to score on the opportunities we had early is really, really what burdened us through the end. Jack responded and we felt we responded in the third, it just wasn’t enough to turn the game and when we did score it was too late to actually make a difference.


JW: And then one other thing I’ve got for you, which is, you know, this team didn’t go through a lot of big changes in the offseason. I would venture to say that you are the biggest change. So for Sabres fans that are watching and as we started the conversation talking about, we’re not talking about last year. Sabres fans are talking about last year, because while you weren’t here, they were and they’ve been here for a long time. We’ve been here for a long time. So you’re the difference. And I think it’s a little bit of pressure on you from the fan base because we’re looking for anything, to be frank, anything that’s going to turn things around and that it’s not going to mirror last year and be just a drift to the finish because we’ve seen that a few times. So I guess what I’m asking is, I don’t know what I’m asking. I’m asking what’s your plan? How are you going to fix this? What have you got in the bag of tricks? What club do you play? What do you do to make sure that this doesn’t go the way that too many teams here have gone?

RK: Well there are things happening internally that aren’t public knowledge that don’t need to be spoken about. The way we operate on the day-to-day basis, some things have to stay inside. But we’re very open in our discussions with the public and with the media and we tell things straight up, whether it’s the players or myself. The most important thing is everybody needs to know that the room is working hard and is connected. Like I started the call, it’s about details. It’s about some breaking old habits, which doesn’t happen overnight and you have to grind yourself through certain processes. The players are doing this together. The coaching staff is connected well with the players. There is a lot of communication going on and there is hard work going around trying to turn this. Games come at you quickly here and if you get a negative run it’s hard to break it and if you have a positive run it’s sometimes easy to carry it. We need to get a positive run going, that’s all I can say. There’s no magic here, it’s roll up your sleeves and do what we can on a daily basis. Get back to outworking the opposition and having our fans feel that kind of a fighting spirit is what we need to do. That’s where we’re at right now.


HS: Ralph, thanks for the time as always. Good luck tomorrow night against Boston and we’ll catch up with you again next week.

RK: Thank you very much. Enjoy your day and I’ll try and find my voice here for the next call.

HS: Feel better.

Post-Game Report: 11/19 vs. Minnesota

Final Score

1st 2nd 3rd OT SO Final SOG
2 1 1 4 26
0 0 1 1 31

Game Summary

Event Summary


Top Notes

  • The Wild earned their first win against the Sabres since Jan. 4, 2018. Buffalo swept the season series in 2018-19.
  • Brandon Montour scored his first goal of the season in the third period. It is his fourth goal as a member of the Sabres.
  • Montour led the team with nine shot attempts, including six on goal.
  • Victor Olofsson recorded an assist on Montour’s goal and now has a point in five of his last six games (1+4).
  • Rasmus Asplund skated a career-high 17:53 tonight, including a team-high 7:36 of shorthanded ice time. It’s the most single-game shorthanded minutes recorded by a rookie forward since Zach Hyman’s identical total on Jan. 13, 2017. No rookie forward has posted more penalty kill time in a game than Asplund’s total since Michael Grabner on Feb. 11, 2011.
  • Zemgus Girgensons (7:14) and Jake McCabe (6:49) both logged career-high ice time totals on the penalty kill tonight.


Tonight’s Goaltenders

Tonight’s Stats
Team Goaltender Decision GA SA
Stalock W 1 31
Sabres Ullmark L 3 25
Updated Season Stats
Team Goaltender Record SV% GAA
Wild Stalock 4-3-0 .911 2.63
Sabres Ullmark 4-4-1 .912 2.99


Post-Game Audio

Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger

Sabres forward Jack Eichel

Sabres defenseman Brandon Montour

Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe

Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau

Wild forward Joel Eriksson Ek

Wild defenseman Ryan Suter

Post-Game Report: 11/16 vs. Ottawa

Final Score

1st 2nd 3rd OT SO Final SOG
0 1 1 2 23
0 2 2 4 32

Game Summary

Event Summary


Top Notes

  • With a career-high four goals tonight, Jack Eichel became the Sabres’ first four-goal scorer since Thomas Vanek (April 10, 2010 at Ottawa).
    • Tonight was the 13th time a Sabre has scored at least four goals in a game.
    • Eichel is the seventh different player to score four in a game for the team, joining Rick Martin (4x), Dave Andreychuk (3x), Alexander Mogilny (2x), Lindy Ruff, Miroslav Satan and Thomas Vanek.
  • Eichel’s third goal marked his second career hat trick (last: 12/15/17 vs. Carolina) and the first hat trick by a Sabres player since Sam Reinhart’s on Feb. 23, 2019 vs. Washington.
  • Eichel recorded his seventh career multi-point game against Ottawa, including four in his last five games against the Senators.
    • He now has seven multi-point games this season, tying for 11th-most in the league at the conclusion of tonight’s game. His three multi-goal games tie for fifth-most in the NHL this season.
  • Eichel now has 23 points (9+14) in 15 career games against Ottawa. His 23points and 1.53 points per game against the Senators represent his best outputs against any NHL opponent.
  • Sam Reinhart assisted on Eichel’s first two goals and now has nine points (4+5) in his last eight games.
  • Reinhart has now recorded 16 points (6+10) in his last 15 games against the Senators, including 10 points (3+7) in eight home games.
  • Victor Olofsson recorded the primary assist on Eichel’s second goal to extend his point streak to four games (1+3). The streak matches his career high, which was set in the first four games of this season.


Tonight’s Goaltenders

Tonight’s Stats
Team Goaltender Decision GA SA
Anderson L 3 31
Sabres Ullmark W 2 23
Updated Season Stats
Team Goaltender Record SV% GAA
Senators Anderson 3-7-0 .894 3.31
Sabres Ullmark 4-3-1 .915 2.98


Post-Game Audio

Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger

Sabres forward Jack Eichel

Sabres forward Rasmus Asplund

Sabres forward Jeff Skinner

Senators head coach D.J. Smith

Senators forward Tyler Ennis

Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki

Senators goaltender Craig Anderson

Post-Game Report: 11/14 vs. Carolina

Final Score

1st 2nd 3rd OT SO Final SOG
2 1 1 1 5 29
1 1 2 0 4 33

Game Summary

Event Summary


Top Notes

  • With tonight’s goal, Jeff Skinner has scored in each of his four career games against his former club, totaling five goals and one assist in those contests.
  • Skinner’s plus-4 rating tonight tied a career high (previously: 3/30/11 vs. MTL and 10/20/18 at LAK).
  • Curtis Lazar, who made his Sabres debut tonight, scored on his first shot as a Sabre in the second period.
  • Lazar became the 56th player ever to score in his Sabres debut and the first since Kyle Okposo did so on Oct. 16, 2016 at Edmonton.
    • Jack Eichel and Zemgus Girgensons are the only other current Sabres who have scored in their debuts.
  • Evan Rodrigues, who assisted on Skinner’s goal, now has three points (1+2) and a plus-3 rating in four games against the Hurricanes since the beginning of last season.
  • Rasmus Dahlin appeared in his 100th NHL game tonight. His 56 career points (10+46) trail only Phil Housley (30+64) for the most by a Sabres defenseman through his first 100 games.


Tonight’s Goaltenders

Tonight’s Stats
Team Goaltender Decision GA SA
Mrazek W 4 33
Sabres Hutton OTL 5 29
Updated Season Stats
Team Goaltender Record SV% GAA
Hurricanes Mrazek 9-3-1 .904 2.62
Sabres Hutton 6-3-2 .913 2.62


Post-Game Audio

Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger

Sabres forward Curtis Lazar

Sabres forward Jeff Skinner

Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju

Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour

Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov

Hurricanes forward Teuvo Teravainen

Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton