Kukla's Korner

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Category: Buffalo-Sabres

Afternoon Line- Ralph Krueger

The Sabres lost 5-2 to the Islanders today.

 

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Video- Top Saves By Dominik Hasek

If you are too young to have seen Hasek play, watch it.  If you saw Hasek play, watch it.

 

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Morning Line- Mike Harrington

Now the GM needs to do something – anything – to fix a team that is nothing short of disgraceful.

That's the exact word I used with Ralph Krueger during his media call earlier Friday, and you can't argue it. Look at this roster with all these high draft picks. How is this team last in the NHL? How does it have fewer wins than Detroit and Ottawa?

Most of all, how is Krueger still employed?

-Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News where you can read more on the state of the Sabres.

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Moving Jack Eichel To The New York Rangers Isn’t A Fit At This Point

from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,

Here is the thing. Given cap constraints, it is essentially an impossibility for the Rangers to accommodate both Eichel, the shiny new apple for which they are at least semi-lusting, and Zibanejad. It will be either/or … or, maybe neither in the not so distant future if the first 20 games are an accurate depiction of what the Swede has become.

If Kevyn Adams, Buffalo’s first-year general manager, looks to move his team captain before the April 12 deadline rather than waiting until the offseason, it would be well nigh impossible for the Blueshirts to get in on the action unless they could somehow deal Zibanejad, who owns a full no-move clause.

The 24-year-old Eichel, whose season has hardly been a smashing success while surrounded by dysfunction that has been a permanent companion since the Sabres last qualified for the postseason in 2011, has five years left on a contract with a fixed cost of $10 million per. It’s a pricey one, all right, but at least the Rangers — or any acquiring team — won’t have to deal with arbitration or potential free agency for the next half-decade.

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A Head Coach Issue In Buffalo

from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,

You can fire Krueger on hockey reasons and you would be justified. But there's a bigger issue at play now: Just like ownership and a neophyte GM who has disappeared from view despite numerous media outlets seeking comment, Krueger has a credibility problem.

In his case, it's gone, at least in the public eye.

The fans are done with Krueger, like they are with just about everything else surrounding this inept franchise. In the wake of a series of missteps by Krueger in the last week, the media can no longer believe anything he says. Back-to-back shutout stinkers to Philadelphia over the weekend gave off the distinct aroma that the players have checked out on him.

And it sure seems Krueger's captain was less than pleased with him after Sunday's game.

Jack Eichel, believed to be mostly in Krueger's corner, hurt his foot/ankle during a collision with Nico Hischier on Tuesday night in New Jersey. Through the binoculars from high above Prudential Center, I watched Eichel standing and flexing his foot on the bench during a television timeout.

Eichel didn't take the morning skate Thursday, with Krueger saying he was taking the workout off for maintenance. No issue. Happens all the time. Eichel appeared at night to take the pregame warmup fully, including rushes with his line, but was then announced as a scratch a couple of minutes before faceoff.

read on

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Hardly The Greatest Show On Earth

from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,

Greeting the local hockey heroes with "Sabre Dance" when they take the ice doesn't really fit the bill anymore.

We need some calliope music like you hear in the old big tops. Because right now, this team is just one giant circus....

The players can't be happy. The GM can't be happy. The coach isn't happy. The cardboard cutouts want to go home and not be locked in this building to watch this anymore....

Here's what's going through my mind after Saturday's snoozer against Philadelphia:

The coach: This has been an off-the-wall few days for Ralph Krueger. Coaches talk to the media so much, often twice a day, that it's impossible to not screw up once in a while. Krueger does his best to pacify reporters with player updates but has become much tighter with his info this year on lineup choices.

But he wasn't nearly transparent enough on the scratches of Jeff Skinner, sticking to his "principles" buzzword when he simply should have come out and said something like "Jeff doesn't have any goals and isn't doing things properly defensively and away from the puck to stay in the lineup. We're going to work with him and sharpen his game in those areas." Going nebulous about a veteran who has played 700+ games wasn't a good look.

read on

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Jeff Skinner Was A Healthy Scratch Last Night

from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,

That means veteran Jeff Skinner was a healthy scratch for the game against the New York Islanders in Nassau Coliseum. Skinner has no goals and one point in 14 games this season and just 18 goals in his last 98 games dating to February 2019.

It has been a precipitous dropoff for Skinner, a four-time 30-goal scorer who posted a career-high 40 goals for the Sabres in 2018-19. Skinner signed an eight-year, $72 million contract with Buffalo after that season. He has struggled to deliver since, while not playing on a line with Jack Eichel, as he did most of that season.

Skinner's spot with Riley Sheahan and Curtis Lazar was filled by Casey Mittelstadt on Monday.

"We don't measure players only on statistics. It's part of the mix. It just is a bit of a gut feel," coach Ralph Krueger said before the game. "The best lineup for tonight was with Casey Mittelstadt in that spot. It's less against Jeff than it is for what we think this group needs today and what we need in a game for our team today."

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Terrible Injury News For Jake McCabe

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Morning Line- Mike Harrington

In the big picture, the players and coaches and GMs haven't been good enough but they're not alone. After all that's gone on in this crazy decade, don't forget the owner is the only one who's been here the whole time.

-Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News on Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula.  More on this topic from Harrington.

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Get Ready For The Jack Eichel Trade Talk Again

from Matt Larkin of the Buffalo News,

The Jack Eichel trade talk was already fervent after last season. The captain couldn’t hide his frustration with the direction of the franchise. Entering his age-24 campaign, he was burning through crucial prime years. He produced at a fringe-MVP-candidate level in 2019-20, with his pace pro-rated to 43 goals and 94 points in a full season, and the team only “improved” to a sixth-place finish in the Atlantic Division and a .493 points percentage, joining six other teams locked out of the 24-team bubble post-season tournament.

So, I’m sorry, Sabres fans, but we have to fire up the Eichel trade machine again. I know you don’t want to hear it. I know you’re among the most passionate fan bases in sports. You deserve to see your team succeed. But the Eichel situation appears to be hurtling toward a cliff. He was already unhappy at the end of 2019-20, not to mention the season prior, and we’re getting so used to him smashing his stick in frustration after losses now that it'll be a .GIF soon. It’s only a matter of time before teams start calling Sabres GM Kevyn Adams, wondering if they can pull a heist akin to what the San Jose Sharks did in November 2005, snatching Joe Thornton just as he reached the apex of his talent.

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com

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