Sabres' Botterill credits Krueger with a lot of the team's improvement

Zach Bogosian is back skating after offseason hip surgery

Paul Hamilton
October 22, 2019 - 2:14 pm

Photo: Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres)

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - As you can imagine, Sabres general manager Jason Botterill has been quite pleased with the team’s 7-1-1 start to the season. There isn’t one thing that has accounted for the improvement according to Botterill, “I think Ralph has brought in a clear message and has done a great job in communicating with our group, but our players have been very open to it and they’ve been engaged with him since Day 1.”

Botterill doesn’t mean just a few of the guys, he means everybody, “You look at whether it’s our veteran players with our goaltender Carter Hutton or a player like Marcus Johansson coming in or young players such as [Rasmus] Dahlin and [Casey] Mittelstadt, they’re engaging with our coaching staff..”

Botterill likes what he sees, be he definitely isn’t satisfied. He said they must be much better, “Our record is our record, there’s a lot of mistakes all over the place and the fact that we’ve had that dialog to rectify those, I think is good.”

Things aren’t always just going to go along smoothly just because they started 7-1-1. The thing that Botterill wants to stress is, everybody is one year wiser and has a better idea of how to handle it when it comes, “I think our younger players are certainly more prepared for it because of going through it. Players like Rasmus Dahlin or Casey Mittelstadt, you can talk to them about a NHL grind and how the level of intensity increases in the second half of the season and what you have to do to have success, but until you go through that entire process, you truly don’t know and I think our veteran players saw last year what equates to success and then how if you lose those things like details in your game, how that success can go away.”

Can it be just having players one year older or did other things have to happen? Botterill said the latter, “The players that we tried to bring in I think have been a really calming influence so far.

“Players that have been through playoffs series and have had success, have a calmness to them and they’ve certainly shown that.”

Botterill said there’s no fear that defenseman Zach Bogosian will miss the whole season, and the defenseman is back skating in his rehab.

The six defensemen that have been playing have had a terrific start to the season. They’ve played so well that John Gilmour has not been able to get in, and two other defensemen are out hurt. Botterill is not worried about it, “It’s a great problem that hopefully we have because there was talk during the summer that we have too many defensemen, then you saw before games even started we ran into injury issues.

“As an organization, we’re ecstatic about going over to Sweden, but it really condenses our schedule when we come back. That’s where we’re going to need all these defensemen.”

Carter Hutton will play the second game of the home-and-home series with San Jose. He has a shutout string of 128:36, which earned him the NHL’s "Third Star" honors for last week. Overall, Hutton is 5-0-0 with a 1.40 goals-against and .953 save percentage.

Hutton will face Martin Jones, who is 2-4-0 with a 3.39 goals-against and .899 saves percentage.

Buffalo left San Jose with a 4-3 victory. Johansson, Mittelstadt, Jeff Skinner and Zemgus Girgensons scored the goals. Linus Ullmark made 29 saves for the win.

The Sabres power play hasn’t been productive since the middle of the Montreal game. It has fallen to fourth overall in the NHL.

Join Schopp and the Bulldog for the pre-game at 6:00 live from (716) Food and Sport when they’ll be joined by Krueger, Johansson and Hutton.

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