Share this article

print logo

Sabres game day: Ralph Krueger says struggles of past seasons 'not relevant'

Matchup: Buffalo Sabres (9-6-2) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (10-7-1)
Where: KeyBank Center
When: 7 p.m.
TV: MSG
Radio: WGR 550

Tough timing: The Sabres have lost five in a row and six of their last seven. Of their past 13 goals, nine have been scored by Jeff Skinner, Jack Eichel or Sam Reinhart. Three of the other four goals were scored by defensemen. Additionally, Buffalo has scored two or fewer goals in six of their last seven games.

Vladimir Sobotka is out four to six weeks, causing the Sabres to recall Curtis Lazar from Rochester. Though Lazar is a former first-round draft pick and excelled in training camp, he has scored only 15 goals in 246 career regular-season NHL games. The Sabres also have lost nine in a row against Carolina.

The Hurricanes snapped a four-game losing streak with their 8-2 victory over Ottawa on Monday.

Lineup: Marcus Johansson, who has four goals among 10 points in 17 games, will miss the next three games because of an upper-body injury, coach Ralph Krueger told reporters following the morning skate Thursday. Lazar will draw into the lineup and is expected to skate on a line with Casey Mittelstadt and Jimmy Vesey.

Additionally, defenseman Colin Miller will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season. He’ll be joined in the press box by John Gilmour and Zach Bogosian, who practiced Wednesday for the first time since April. Bogosian underwent hip surgery and encountered multiple setbacks during the offseason.

"We like the internal competition," Krueger said of his depth on defense. "I think it creates a healthy atmosphere because the professionalism in the guys who have had to take that difficult role of watching has been excellent. They're keeping themselves ready to play and still supporting the group. We haven't seen anything but support. The internal competition is a good thing and with the games coming up we're going to need the depth on defense. I'm certain of that. We can just make a call game to game also depending on the opposition what's best for the team, but we like the Scandella-Jokiharju pair when they were together and let's see how they do today."

Here is how the Sabres lined up during the morning skate:

Goalies: Carter Hutton, who has a .916 save percentage in six career games against Carolina, will start in goal Thursday. Comparatively, Linus Ullmark has a .830 save percentage in two career games against the Hurricanes.

Familiar feeling: There are some parallels between the Sabres' recent slide and their poor play following the 10-game win streak last November. Secondary scoring has dried up, defensive-zone coverage has slipped at times and they're having trouble managing tight games in the third period.

The Sabres are also starting slow, posting a minus-8 goal differential in the first period of games and they are 0-6 when trailing after two periods this season. However, players don't seem fazed. After all, they had an encouraging start against Tampa Bay last Saturday in Stockholm and suffered a difficult 1-0 loss to the New York Islanders prior to leaving for Sweden.

Krueger was not interested in talking about what happened last season.

"I'm a new head coach here this year and that doesn't interest me at all," Krueger said. "We're building a new story here and this is a completely different season with a different group of guys, with a huge buy-in here, and a healthy space of confidence at the moment. I don't feel anything but that. ... What is last year is really not relevant to our story."

100: Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin is expected to appear in his 100th NHL game Thursday. The 19-year-old leads all Sabres defensemen with 12 points and is tied for the team lead with 11 assists. He has 56 career points through his first 99 NHL games.

Among defensemen in Sabres franchise history, only Phil Housley matched or surpassed Dahlin's minimum of 56 points through the first 100 regular-season games of his career.

Opposing player to watch: Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov's eight multipoint games this season are tied for fifth in the league, trailing only Leon Draisaitl, John Carlson, Alexander Barkov and David Pastrnak. Svechnikov, 19, scored one goal among three points in three games against the Sabres last season.

Story topics: /

There are no comments - be the first to comment