Krueger: 'We're happy to be back in the NHL rhythm'

The Sabres head coach joined Howard and Jeremy on Wednesday after the team's trip to Sweden

Howard & Jeremy | Weekdays 6a-10a
November 13, 2019 - 9:41 am

After a great start to the 2019-20 season, the Buffalo Sabres have hit a bump in the road with five straight losses, as well as losses in six of the team's last seven games.

As it stands, the Sabres currently sit at 9-6-2 in the standings with 20 points, which puts them in fifth place in the Atlantic Division and on the outside looking in at the playoffs.

The team recently just came back from its trip to Sweden, where the Sabres took part in the 2019 NHL Global Series against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm. In the two games played, Buffalo was out-scored 8-5 by the Lightning, their special teams struggled to help the team's cause, and lapses in play at both ends of the ice cost the Sabres a chance at putting up points in the standings.

The Sabres will try to snap their skid on Thursday night when the Carolina Hurricanes come to town for a matchup at KeyBank Center. The Hurricanes have hit a bit of a skid as well, going 4-5-1 in their last 10 games, but they still sit one point ahead of Buffalo in the Eastern Conference standings.

Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger joined Howard Simon and Jeremy White on Wednesday for his weekly appearance on WGR to discuss the team's trip to Sweden, the recent struggles over the last few games, and more.

Here is some of what he had to say:


Krueger on the trip to Sweden for the NHL Global Series:

"There were definitely two sides to that trip. The one is the results that we're disappointed with, especially in Game 2, but the overall experience for our team was excellent. The players were outstanding ambassadors for the Sabres, No. 1, and for the National Hockey League. I thought the overall way that we managed it was strong. Yeah, we've taken some good lessons with us too, which will make us stronger in the future. Tampa Bay is a strong opponent there. Overall, I would say a good experience, but we're happy to be back in the NHL rhythm."


Krueger on fixing the team's play at even strength:

"We actually, at 5-on-5, it was 2-2 in the first game and 3-3 in the second game. It was our specialty teams that let us down in Sweden. We lost the specialty teams games in both of those and came home without points. At 5-on-5, we are seeing more pressure to the net in the second game. Getting over 40 shots on net is not necessarily a goal that we need to have; if you're leading in the National Hockey League you don't need to be pumping shots like that, but it was good for us to have that and also to see a lot of net pressure and to see often two bodies in and around that. That's a first step 5-on-5 to create more scoring. At the moment, we've got a couple of injuries we're going to be still assessing here this morning and we're going to see how the group comes together, but there are a few things we need to improve. We know that. It's a constant, every day searching for little areas and that's one we're working on really hard."


Krueger on getting the offense back on track:

"I think, overall, we need to get our power play firing again. It is the motor of our offense, and when it's confident and doing well, it seems to carry over into our 5-on-5 game. The guys are striving to go in the right direction. There's a strong spirit here, and we believe with these two home games coming up we can get our game back on track here pretty quickly."


Krueger on the play of Jack Eichel's line with Sam Reinhart and Victor Olofsson:

"The Eichel-Reinhart-Olofsson line was outstanding in Sweden, scoring all the 5-on-5 goals. We're happy to see them clicking. They were generally firing on the power play earlier in the season, but that goal production now, five goals in that period of time, shows that they're trending well. We need to get some other lines scoring offensively to get more balance, but we're very pleased with the Eichel line at the moment."


Krueger on the play of Jimmy Vesey:

"We like the way Jimmy is fitting into the lineup. He's taking on a penalty killing role, which is new to him with this level of responsibility. He's also supporting lines defensively in a way. His speed, puck skill and drive - the goals will come eventually if he holds the line that he's on right now. It's not that that we focus on so much with Jimmy. We'd like to see secondary scoring through the lineup, but overall, the effort is there. He's had some setbacks with a few injuries that have held him out of the lineup. I believe Jimmy's goals will come with time. He just needs to hold the line that he's on right now."


Krueger on generating shots at even strength:

"We're quite pleased with the way the guys are buying in to playing as a team. When you're getting losses, those numbers are going to stray in the wrong way. For us, it's just one of the areas we need to continue to improve on. We have a lot of things to still work on, we're far from a finished product. The offensive production 5-on-5 is something that with our [defensemen] getting some more shots to the net, we don't want to shoot just for shooting sake, we need to get the pressure to the net, in general, up. We're working on some things that, tactically, take some time, but again, I want to underline that these guys are trying. They're working hard, they're very involved in practice and in our meetings that we have and are doing their best to try to improve in the areas we need to improve on, and I believe you're going to see it on the ice."


Krueger on the recent struggles for Rasmus Dahlin:

"I'm going to defend Rasmus here, because he's working so hard on improving on the defensive side of the game. We're spending a lot of time with him in that area, and that's going to take a little bit away from his offensive production as he's cementing the habits there that he needs to cement. He's still a teenager, and everybody needs to remember that and we need to be patient with his game. For a defenseman, it's much more complex than as a young forward coming in. I've said it before and I'll say it again, he's just such a coachable kid. He's working so hard on doing things right and getting them right, and everybody's going to continue to be excited. We aren't disappointed with Rasmus at all because of the effort that he's putting in. He's putting on muscle mass, we're trying to do weight lifting in and around all our games that we have, and he's right there in front of the line working out as hard as anybody else. Also on the ice with his offense, he just needs to relax and allow that genius to create when the opportunity is there and find the right balance. That's what he's working, and I'm sure, as well as the rest of the team, you're going to see some good hockey here in the next few games."


You can listen to the entire interview below:

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