Sabres' Mittelstadt in better shape for season No. 2

It looks like the center put the work into his summer

Paul Hamilton
September 15, 2019 - 2:49 pm

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Casey Mittelstadt did not have the rookie season he was hoping for.

In 77 games, he scored 12 goals and 13 assists for 25 points and was even a healthy scratch for one game. The kid had never played that many games, and he realized that he needed to be in better shape to handle the rigors of an NHL season.

Mittelstadt went back to Minnesota and said he didn’t get over last season right away, “It definitely took some time. It was tough to watch the playoffs and not be a part of it, but at the same time once the year’s over, there’s nothing you can change and you’ve got to control what you can control and make sure you start getting better and ready for next year.”

You can tell Mittelstadt is in better shape just by looking at him and watching him on the ice. In the first three days of training camp, he’s looked quicker on the ice. Mittelstadt really put the work in this offseason, “I’ve come in with a fresh mindset and it was a big summer for me. I focused on some conditioning stuff and getting stronger and leaning out a little bit, so I’ve come in here in shape to show I’m ready to go.”

I wondered if Mittelstadt had to change his eating habits. He said, “I think for me it wasn’t so much eating poorly. I think I would just eat too much. I think like having two plates I eat one of whatever my mom made for dinner. It sounds kind of dumb, but that’s what it came down to.

“Once you get used to it. you start to feel better and have a little more energy and it almost becomes enjoyable. It might take a week or two, but after that you feel pretty good and for me it was pretty easy.”

So what habits need to change for Mittelstadt to become the player the Sabres believe him to be? The 20-year-old said, “The toughest lesson I learned is what you do early in a week on your days off comes back when you have three games in four nights or back-to-backs and I started to figure it out more towards the end of the year.

There were a couple of things Mittelstadt incorporated like taking a nap, getting to bed earlier and eating the right meals, The centerman said, “I’ve never played that many games. In college, I got a back-to-back and then had five days to get back and be ready, and last year you got a day to be ready so it’s a bit different and you learn things throughout the year.”

Watching from above, it appeared, to me, that Mittelstadt lost some confidence as the season went on. He’s the type of guy that has faith in his ability, but he admitted it happened, “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t, but at the same time, I’m pretty confident and I always have been, but there were times where I did lose confidence, but it doesn’t take me long to get it back and I always feel like I can make plays and do things.”

There’s pressure on the new guys coming in, but, in my mind, if the Sabres are to be better this season, young players like Mittelstadt, Tage Thompson and to a lesser extent Rasmus Dahlin must be better. Mittelstadt agrees, “It’s quite a bit, there’s a lot on our shoulders and the new guys are also going to have some pressure to step up and it’s a good mix of both, but we’ve got to step up from within and try to help the guys get some wins.”

The Sabres open the preseason on Monday when they tangle with Pittsburgh at Penn State. Join us for pre-game coverage starting at 6:45.

 

Monday's Lineup:

Sheary - Eichel - Vesey

Skinner - Rodrigues - Lazar

Girgensons - Larsson - Oglevie

Elie - Cozens - Thompson

 

Dahlin - Jokiharju

Scandella - Miller

Gilmour - Nelson

Hickey

 

J. Johansson

Hutton

 

It's interesting that Rasmus Ristolainen has been part of this group the first three days of training camp, but he's not going on the trip. 

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