Sabres have many young players that need to learn how to win

October 31, 2017

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - The Sabres have drafted players like Zemgus Girgensons, Rasmus Ristolianen, Sam Reinhart, Justin Bailey and Jack Eichel that have never won on the NHL level.

I think winning is something that’s learned. It’s not good enough to outplay San Jose on Saturday only to lose 3-2. You have to find ways to win that game. Phil Housley said, “I see a team that at key times in a game, we break and we have to have a mental toughness where we can’t crack.”

“That’s part of the culture too, building that reassurance to just continue to play the way we’re playing.”

The Sabres have gotten chances to score lately, but can’t seem to get the goals. Housley said, “We’ve out chanced 80 percent of the teams. We have a lot of talent in that room to win hockey games, but it’s our play without the puck that has to get better.”

Housley is a big Bills fan and talks to Sean McDermott. He said, “I watch the Buffalo Bills and I watch the news and I watch the halftime reports and what is the one thing that they’re talking about the Buffalo Bills? It’s their defense. That’s what’s changing things for them is creating turnovers and we have to take pride in that area.”

“I think the zone time, you see the games that we lose, the other team has more zone time, so that’s telling me we’re out chancing the other team, but we have to take pride when we don’t have the puck and if we focus in that area, we will have the puck and we will look faster.”

Girgensons was here when the tank was going on to be able to draft Reinhart and Eichel. He’s never been even close to playing on a winning team in the NHL and he said winning is something that you have to learn, “Definitely, I don’t think just playing well will always get you the wins, you have to put a big amount of work in to get rewarded.”

“It’s been a tough couple of seasons, but we were more positive coming in this year and we can’t get down on ourselves.”

Jason Pominville was part of a Sabres team that beat Ottawa in the playoffs and he also played on winning teams in Minnesota. He said, “You have to learn, you have to earn it and right now when things aren’t going our way, we seem to go the opposite where they end up scoring.”

So I posed the question to him, a veteran of 13 NHL seasons. He thinks you do have to learn how to win, “I think so, it comes with the culture of it. Some of our young players have been unfortunate where they were, they had to deal with a lot of losing and they want to find a way to get out of this, but it starts with learning details that make you a successful team.”

Justin Falk is ready to play and should be in the lineup Thursday in Arizona.


Tuesday’s lines:

Kane  Eichel  Pominville

Pouliot  O’Reilly  Okposo

Girgensons  Reinhart  Bailey

Moulson  Larsson  Nolan (Griffith)


Scandella  Ristolainen

McCabe  Tennyson

Falk  Antinpin (Fedun)