Housley: Our leadership group leads 'the right way'

October 10, 2018
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The early start to the Buffalo Sabres' 2018-19 season has certainly had its ups and downs through three games.

The season opener on Thursday night was a game in which the Sabres seemed surprised by the Boston Bruins' jump, which led to a lackluster performance and a 4-0 loss on home ice.

However, the team rebounded on Saturday night with a strong performance from start to finish against the New York Rangers, which ended up in a 3-1 victory and the team's first win of the season. Then on Monday afternoon, the Sabres grabbed another big win over the defending Western Conference champion Vegas Golden Knights. The Sabres scored early and kept up the high-octane pace offensively, while playing some solid defensive hockey and getting some stellar goaltending from goalie Carter Hutton.

With the 4-2 victory on Monday, the Sabres surpassed the .500 mark (wins versus overall losses) for the first time since January of the lockout-shortened 2013 season.

Sabres head coach Phil Housley joined Howard Simon and Jeremy White on Tuesday, just one day after the big home win over Vegas. In his first visit of the season, Housley discussed that start of the year for his group, as well as the changes in the team's play from next year and the direction he hopes to take his squad moving forward.

Here is some of what he had to say:

 

Housley on the opening night loss to the Bruins:

"We ran into a pretty desperate team against Boston on the home opener after they took a drubbing in Washington, and I thought we didn't capitalize on our opportunities. I thought we did a lot of good things, and then they scored their third goal and our guys got a little down. That wasn't characteristic of us through training camp. I think the vibe has been very good where I thought we could have had a push. We re-grouped before New York and had a very good game."

 

Housley on playing a faster style of play:

"When we get through the neutral zone and we make good decisions where we want to make plays, obviously we have to make plays to score goals, but making that right play - maybe it's not look pretty, but our momentum is moving forward and we're playing north. It just seems we look a lot faster when we transition quickly and our defense has done a terrific job of moving that puck quickly. It's getting snapped around, and you can see the benefits. We're spending more time in the offensive zone and our [defense] is getting more involved in the offensive rush. We're going to continue to focus on that."

 

Housley on the win over the Rangers:

"It was an important win for us. Just for the confidence of the players because we're learning how to win, especially in our building where we didn't have a lot of success last year. It was a credit to them that they played a solid 60 minutes. Again, we gave up some things that we didn't need to give up by just making some smarter reads coming back into our zone and picking up people, but when there has been a breakdown, Carter [Hutton] delivered a big save for us. That was sort of the message in there that we have to get back to work and control what we can control. That's with practice the next day because we do have a young team and we're going to have to continue developing these young players."

 

Housley on the leadership group's influence on the locker room:

"We tend to come to the rink the next day and it was 'woe is me!', and it just seemed that whenever we've faced a little bit of adversity, our leadership group has done a terrific job of corralling the guys, getting our focus back. That's one of the changes I've seen this year. Our leadership group has done a terrific job of leading in the right way, leading by example. We're going to have to lean on those guys, at times, during the season, but I really like the focus in the next day in practice and you can see it payed dividends against New York."

 

You can listen to Housley's entire interview with Howard and Jeremy below: