Sabres' Housley moves Mittelstadt to left wing

Colorado has lost Gabriel Landeskog for up to six weeks

Paul Hamilton
March 08, 2019 - 6:54 pm

Photo: Eric Bolte - USA TODAY Sports


Denver, CO (WGR 550) - Phil Housley made a change in Friday’s practice that he hasn’t done before. He moved Casey Mittelstadt to left wing with Johan Larsson and Jason Pominville. It’s the first time in his NHL career he’s been away from the center ice position, and he said it’s not a place he’s been too often in his hockey life, “I haven’t played it too much throughout my life, so it’s a new challenge.

“I’ll get quite a few plays up the wall, so it shouldn’t be too much different than just go out and manage my game and try to do the best I can on the walls and see what happens.”

Housley knows it can take pressure off a young player to move him to wing. He said, “I just wanted to see how it looked and I liked it. We didn’t do a lot of 5-on-5 drills, but I though the rush drills were really good.”

Young players have trouble with their defensive responsibilities and Mittelstadt is no different. Housley thinks this could help him settle down, “It’s a possibility. I think he’s done a good job of trying to improve that area of his game, but I thought last game there was a lot of indecision in his game and the communication aspect of it needs to come through with sorting things out.”

Housley mentioned that he may try to split the defensive minutes better. Rasmus Dahlin was with Rasmus Ristolainen, Marco Scandella moved to play with Casey Nelson while Zach Bogosian and Brandon Montour stayed together. It was a complete waste of a practice for Tage Thompson as the 21-year-old played defense with Matt Hunwick. It was a missed opportunity for a young player in practice to get better. He gets absolutely nothing out of a full practice on defense. He did stay after practice for a long time and worked with Dahlin.

Mittelstadt was already talking to a veteran winger about playing wing when I approached him to talk. He will lean on those guys, “I was talking to [Scott Wilson] about it before, but throughout the year you get to see a lot of the plays they make on the wall and things that they do like where they put the puck and the areas they go to, so it’s good for me watching guys throughout the year and now I get to implement it and see how it goes.”

Mittelstadt has told me more than once that nobody puts more pressure on him than him so this maybe will help take all that off of himself, “Yes I guess maybe, so tomorrow I’m going to have to go out and get used to it a little bit, but at the same time, I’m going to expect myself to be able to make plays. I feel I have good enough hands to make plays on the wall, so I’m excited for something new.”

Colorado got some bad news as captain Gabe Landeskog is out six weeks with an upper-body injury. In 67 games this season, Landeskog has 33 goals and 36 assists for 69 points.

The Sabres face the Avalanche Saturday starting with Brian Koziol’s pre-game at 2:00. He’s be joined by Phil Housley, Zach Bogosian and Casey Mittelstadt.


Friday’s lines:

Skinner - Eichel - Reinhart

Sheary - Rodrigues - Okposo

Mittelstadt - Larsson - Pominville

Wilson - Sobotka - Girgensons


Dahlin - Ristolainen

Bogosian - Montour

Scandella - Nelson

Hunwick - Thompson

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