Sabres' Pilut is learning the NHL

September 28, 2018

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - The Sabres will play their final preseason game on Friday in Oshawa against the Islanders. With injuries, it will be the final game that some players will get a chance to impress Jason Botterill and Phil Housley.

A player that has had an impressive training camp is free agent signee Lawrence Pilut. He had two very good preseason games, and then had a very poor one in Pittsburgh. Pilut was ticketed for Rochester after he signed, but he’s made things difficult for the final cut. Pilut said the next few days will be a nervous time, “Of course there’s a little nervousness, but I’m just trying to live in the moment, try to do my best out there and we’ll see what happens.”

Pilut plays the same type of game that Housley played when he was in the NHL. Housley said there are many qualities has likes about Pilut, “His calmness and poise with the puck. He attacks the game the right way, he gets into the play, he’ll make those moves on the blue line that shows the confidence he has in his abilities.”

I wondered if maybe Pilut struggled against Pittsburgh because he was in awe of being on the ice with players like Sidney Crosby. Pilut said “I try not to think of that, but I mean, they’re great players and you’ve got to think a little extra about it, so you just try to play your game and not think about it too much.”

Housley didn’t think Pilut was in awe of the situation, he thinks it was the speed game that got him, “They had a lot of speed in the lineup and I think his gap control could’ve been a little bit better, but up to this point he’s made a really good impression on us as a coaching staff and he’s developed well throughout this camp.”

Pilut said if he plays the way he’s capable of and not do too much, he will do well, “I’m just trying to play my game, trying to be the defenseman that I am, the two-way guy and I feel like I’m trying to develop my game every day and that’s going good so far.”

Pilut struggled mightily during the Prospects Challenge, but until the Pittsburgh game, those struggles had vanished. Pilut agreed that the smaller ice surface in North America was an adjustment, “I felt like it was a little adjustment thing for me those first games, but now it feels like I’m getting into it more and more. You kind of get use to it and now it’s kind of more fun because it’s a little quicker game, but I like it.

“I still have some adjustments to do and improving I can do, so I’m still working on it.”

Even though Pilut has preformed well, he isn’t even close to being satisfied. He said, “I think I’ve done OK, I think I can do better too. I just try to improve every game.” Pilut added, “I think the first two games I was better and then the third game I went down a little bit, but I want to keep improving and keep adjusting to the ice around here.”

Pilut comes over to North America with many Swedish players in the Sabres organization. He said that has made it easy to transition into his new home in Western New York, “It has been, I’ve had a lot of help from the guys that have been here before and the guys I came with, so it’s been an adjustment, but an easy one with the Swedes here.”

With Rasmus Ristolainen, Marco Scandella, Zach Bogosian and Matt Hunwick all out with injuries, I’m still not sure if Pilut will play in Oshawa. In practice on Thursday, Pilut was paired with Justin Bailey.

Join Brian Koziol at 7:00 when he gets you started and then it’s Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray with the call.