Housley: 'We found a way to win' to close out the western road trip

Sabres head coach Phil Housley joined Howard and Jeremy after the team's five-game trip out west

Howard & Jeremy | Weekdays 6a-10a
October 24, 2018 - 6:40 am

Photo: Matt Kartozian - USA TODAY Sports


It was a solid weekend for the Buffalo Sabres as they closed out their five-game Western Conference road trip with wins over the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks.

The Sabres ended up out-scoring their opponents 9-3 in the two games, and got to the 5-4-0 mark as they return home to face the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night at KeyBank Center. Buffalo ended up playing a pair of solid 60-minute efforts, and got some clutch play from everyone in both ends of the ice. The team played maybe its best even strength hockey in a while, as well as getting some goals on the power play.

On the road trip overall, the Sabres got three wins and earned six of a possible 10 wins along the way. Buffalo's start to the 2018-19 season is the team's best start to a season since the 2011-12 season when they went 6-3-0 in its first nine games.

Sabres head coach Phil Housley joined Howard Simon and Jeremy White on Tuesday morning for his weekly appearance on WGR. The second-year bench boss was very pleased with his team's overall effort, and looks to continue their strong play over to Thursday night in front of their hometown faithful.

Here is some of what Housley had to say with Howard and Jeremy:

Housley on his team's weekend performance:

"It was a valiant effort by our guys, especially [after] losing that third game in San Jose, which I thought we played really well 5-on-5. It was just the special teams [that put us] behind the eight ball. To come back against a pretty desperate opponent - L.A., getting beat by the [New York] Islanders 7-2 the day before, we knew they were going to come out pretty strong, but our guys really controlled the play and did the little things well. We found a way to win, and then to end the road trip the way we did in Anaheim and the way we played, I was really proud of our guys for the way they played in those back-to-back games.

Housley on what was working for his team against the Kings and Ducks:

"Our execution was very high in both of those games, but it's five guys coming back together to help each other. It's the forwards getting in the way of the opposition when they're trying to forecheck and buying time for the [defense] and those little plays of 5-10-foot passes coming out of our zone. It just seems like when we're a block of five back there and we get the easy exit, we have this push up ice. When we're not connected and our forwards are up too high, there's no support coming back into our zone. I think in our neutral zone, we're thinking a lot faster.

"We're trying to transition quickly, and when you have good puck movement and everything's on the tape and crisp, it seems like we're a faster team and we execute that way."

Housley on Jack Eichel's strong play in the two wins:

"It started this summer when Jack really made a big commitment, along with our leadership group, to get together and really hash some things out. I think with his maturity this summer leading in the camp, he's really leading by example and taking his game to another level. I'm not saying just in the offensive side of it, but his all around play and his buy in playing away from the puck. He's been very strong down in his own end. He's a very powerful player and when he makes his mind up to play a 200-foot game, he's pretty dominant. It's shown in his last two games."

Housley on Jeff Skinner:

"Jeff Skinner is the truest pro in every sense of the word because he comes to work, approaches the game the right way, and it's just been a joy to have him as part of our team. He works hards in practice, he competes every shift, and it was great to see him get rewarded."

Housley on finding line combinations when the times get rough:

"Everybody had a big contribution in the last two games. It took four lines. When you get the back-to-back games, you try to balance out those minutes, and I thought our guys did a terrific job throughout our lineup."

Housley on Rasmus Dahlin's play this season:

"He just goes about his business. He wants to learn, he wants to win, he's a tremendous competitor and every game he's getting better. I think the biggest thing for him that I've seen is just learning the opposition and the characteristics of other players. That's going to take some time in itself because there's a lot of very good players. He has poise, he can find the open man as good as anybody, but I just like that he was able to score his first goal in Arizona and get that off his plate. I'm sure that is always a big moment in a young player's career. He's been great in both ends of the ice."

Housley on Thursday's matchup with the Canadiens:

"We're going to have to manage our game. I'm just glad we're able to get two days off because, a lot of times, you get that one day and a practice, then you're playing the next day. We can get adjusted to the Eastern time zone now in the couple days here and get ready for Montreal. It is a very important game. It's our second divisional game this month, and Montreal is playing some good hockey."


You can listen to Housley's entire interview below:

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