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Category: Buffalo-Sabres

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."

more

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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.

more

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Rasmus Ristolainen On The COVID-19 Issues He Experienced

from Lance Lysowski of the Buffalo News,

Coach Ralph Krueger told reporters Thursday morning the Sabres wished to provide Ristolainen more time to regain his energy following a 14-day stay on the National Hockey League’s Covid protocol list.

Now we know why.

In a vivid interview with the Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat, Ristolainen, a 26-year-old defenseman who averages a team-high 23:34 ice time per game, described the various symptoms he experienced during a bout with Covid-19, including significant drops in oxygen levels and chest pain that made him wonder if he would awake the following morning.

“Sometimes there were quite disturbed states of being,” said Ristolainen, according to Google translate. “When there was chest pain, it felt like my heart was cracking as I walked up the stairs. A couple of evenings there were such conditions when I went to bed that I didn’t know if I woke up here anymore in the morning.”

read on

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Nothing Has Changed For The Buffalo Sabres After A COVID Break

from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,

The point of this column was supposed to be the whole fresh-start theory for the Buffalo Sabres. The first 10 games were one season, then came the two-week pause due to the Covid-19 situation, and what's essentially a new season finally opened Monday night.

Next thought.

Even if there were a few different guys in the lineup, it sure seemed like a lot of the same.

The Sabres did some decent things during their 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders. Victor Olofsson scored a lovely power-play goal and there was plenty of time in the offensive zone in the first 40 minutes.

But the Sabres still do just enough to stub their toes, and it makes a difference on a nightly basis because there are too many good teams in the East Division.

They don't score at 5-on-5, they constantly play from behind (giving up the first goal for the eighth time in 11 games), they get confused on defensive coverages too much and they just don't get enough saves. It also sure seemed, after two weeks off, that they had nothing left in their tanks for the third period.

They had no shots on goal in the final 20 minutes. None. Zip. Nada.

continued

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COVID Update

NEW YORK (Feb. 2, 2021) – The National Hockey League announced today that Buffalo Sabres games have been postponed at least through Feb. 8 as a result of two Players entering the NHL’s COVID Protocols.  The decision was made by the League’s, NHLPA’s and Club’s medical groups, who determined that more caution was warranted while the League continues to analyze test results in the coming days.

The team’s training facilities have been closed, effective immediately, and will remain closed until further notice. The League is in the process of reviewing and revising the Sabres’ regular season schedule and it is expected that a decision on next week’s games will be made in the coming days. The Sabres’ organization has, and will continue to follow, all recommended guidelines aimed at protecting the health and safety of its Players, staff and community at large as set by the NHL, local, state and national agencies.

 

Then there is this...

Continue Reading »

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It’s Not Good In Buffalo At The Moment

from Mike Harrnington of the Buffalo News,

What we saw Sunday in KeyBank Center was a mess. The knee-jerk reaction would be to try to blame goalie Carter Hutton for it. Too easy.

Hutton's first game in 12 days was an up-and-down affair, but he would be well down the list of this corner's issues in the mind-numbing 5-3 loss to New Jersey.

By the numbers, Hutton stopped 32 of 36 shots he faced (the Devils added an empty-net goal). There was a huge save on Jack Hughes in the second period shortly after the Sabres pulled within 2-1, and a big one in the third on P.K. Subban as well.

The Sabres' puck management was terrible all day and they botched time and situation three times in the first two periods. The goals against were bizarre. The top-paid offensive players still don't score (Jack Eichel + Taylor Hall + Jeff Skinner + Kyle Okposo = three goals thus far).

On the road back after that ugly blow to the head from Ivan Provorov in Philadelphia, how did Hutton's afternoon start? With defensemen Brandon Montour and Matt Irwin forgetting to set their alarm clocks for the 1:05 opening faceoff.

continued

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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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