Saturday night was fun. The Sabres beat New Jersey 7-2 in their Golden Season home opener.
Can Buffalo keep things going tonight in Columbus? It's a 7 p.m. faceoff from Nationwide Arena with the Buick Game Night pregame show kicking off at 6:30 on MSG. Tune in.
Here's what you need to know.
From the Game Notes…
- The Sabres are currently 2-0-0 to start a season for the first time since 2012-13.
- The team last started the season with at least three consecutive wins in 2008-09, when they won their first four contests and went unbeaten through the first eight (6-0-2).
- Through two games, the Sabres have already gotten points from 14 different players this season. Rasmus Dahlin (1+3), Victor Olofsson (2+1) and Sam Reinhart (2+1) have each tallied at least a point in both of the team's first two contests.
- The Sabres are 1-0-1 in their last two road games against Columbus and have a chance to earn points in three straight visits for the first time in the all-time series between the teams.
- Ralph Krueger has become the fourth Sabres head coach to earn wins in his first two games as the team's head coach, joining Marcel Pronovost (Oct. 13-15, 1977), Scotty Bowman (Oct. 11-13, 1979) and Jim Roberts (Dec. 9-12, 1981).
- No Sabres head coach has ever won each of his first three games with the team. However, Bowman won the first three games of his final of four separate tenures as the team's head coach from Jan. 17 to 22, 1986, making him the only coach in Sabres history to do so in any stint with the team.
- This is the first of three meetings between the Sabres and Blue Jackets this season.
- Last meeting: Columbus defeated Buffalo 4-0 in Buffalo on March 31
- Next meeting: Saturday, Feb. 1 in Buffalo
Thanks as always to @SabresPR.
The Sabres skated yesterday before leaving for tonight's road game.
From the Ice Level Practice Report…
Ralph Krueger was asked about the effectiveness of his fourth line on Sunday, and his response offered some insight into his coaching philosophy.
"Which one is the fourth line?" he retorted.
Krueger was being playful, but his point stood. The line in question was that of Zemgus Girgensons, Johan Larsson, and Kyle Okposo, and the coach went on to explain why he doesn't view that trio - or any others - in terms of rank.
"I generally don't think [that way]," Krueger said. "There's the Eichel line, there's the Larsson line, there's the Johansson line, and we've got the Mittelstadt line right now. Really, there's different roles at different times.
"If you look at when we were closing a game out in Pittsburgh, that line, as an example, was one of only two lines left in the last five minutes."
Krueger leaned heavily on Larsson and Girgensons when the Sabres were looking to close their victory over the Penguins last Thursday. The two forwards played 11 and 10 shifts in the third period, respectively, and played key roles on three penalty kills.
"I'm trying to make sure that everybody understands they're important," Krueger said. "If you've killed four minutes and somebody else has played power play [for] eight, those might be equal minutes as far as the work and the sacrifice and the investment of energy you have."
Read the full report here.
Looking back at Saturday
Fifteen former captains were able to come back and attend a pregame Party in the Plaza and partake in a pregame ceremony:
Video: Home Opener Full Ceremony
Here's the video open that played in arena:
Video: Golden Season In-Arena Open
Our game recap focused on their reactions to how the team performed. Here's a sample and you can read the full Lexus Postgame Report here…
Jack Eichel waited anxiously on the bench as the Zamboni made its way across the KeyBank Center ice early Saturday evening. It was a three-minute wait between the ceremonial and actual puck drop that must have felt like an eternity, given the performance Eichel and his Sabres teammates had in store for their hometown fans.
In the 48 hours between the team's season-opening victory in Pittsburgh and their home opener against New Jersey, Eichel had spoken at length regarding his excitement towards introducing the new brand of Sabres hockey to the KeyBank Center crowd.
The 15 fellow Sabres captains in attendance simply added to that anticipation.
"We take a lot of pride in our alumni here," alternate captain Jake McCabe said. "I knew Jack was going to have a good night, that's for sure. He takes a ton of pride wearing that 'C.'"
Video: Eichel on the home opener victory
"You just get goosebumps," McCabe said. "That's all I can really say to describe the feeling. You get goosebumps. You're smiling, you're happy. That's what hockey's all about, right there."
Ralph Krueger said at the outset of training camp that it was his mission to make it so that those who watch the team can feel an identity that they could easily recognize as "Sabres hockey." That brand was clear to the former captains observing from the suite level on Saturday.
Video: POSTGAME: Reinhart
At one point, Michael Peca turned to another alum and echoed a point that current players made throughout training camp: It looked like the players were thinking less.
"As fans, I think we see the difference in this team," Peca said. "I think Ralph's got them playing more instinctual type hockey. They're not overthinking the game.
"You can see the difference. These guys, they grow up developing and honing instincts in this game. It's so fast that you can't overthink it. It's just great to see them playing the way they are."
While Peca identified with the instinctual nature of Krueger's system, others noted the aggressive, pressure-based game plan. The Sabres once again closed their gaps, tightened up the blue line, and controlled the play for virtually the full 60 minutes. The final shot tally was 36-20 in favor of Buffalo.
"They're pressuring the puck a lot," Don Luce said. "They're using their speed to pressure the puck, create turnovers. I think that's the style Ralph wants them to play they're doing it. They're forcing the other team to make mistakes."
The full recap can be read here.
We caught up with a bunch of captains throughout the night.
Video: Gilbert Perreault Interview
Video: Gerry Meehan Interview
Video: Mike Foligno joins the broadcast
Video: Brian Campbell on the broadcast
Video: Captains: Smith, Meehan and Schoenfeld
Video: Captains: Danny Gare
Video: Captains: Pat LaFontaine
Video: Captains: Stu Barnes
Video: Captains: Jack Eichel
Oh yeah, The Earl of Bud made an appearance as well:
Video: The Earl of Bud!