It’s safe to say that Sabres coach Lindy Ruff is going to have plenty of familiar help on the bench this season. While Ruff already has former Sabres defenseman James Patrick and NHL veteran Kevyn Adams as assistants, he’s getting another former Sabres defenseman and Winnipeg Jets (the original Jets) legend to help out as well.
The Sabres hired Teppo Numminen to join Ruff’s staff as an assistant coach and help educate the Sabres defensemen on the ways of playing things a bit smoother on defense. Numminen was a slick-skating Finnish defenseman who could defend as well as help set things up offensively with assists and scoring goals as well.
As John Vogl of Sabres Edge shares, Numminen’s role with the Sabres is going to be to bring a particular worldly view to the Sabres blue liners.
During games, Numminen will be in the press box with a headset talking to his fellow assistants stationed on the bench.
“He’s going to give us a little bit of a European flair,” Ruff said. “He was a consultant at the world championships for the Finns, who won last year. He’s going to be a good addition.”
That European flair Ruff is talking about means playing solid at both ends of the ice while keeping a finer eye on the details. If you’ve ever watched Team Finland play in the Olympics or the World Championships, you’ve got an idea as to what that means. If you haven’t, it means that they play a very focused and intense brand of hockey and while they’re defensively responsible, they’re not afraid to take an educated gamble offensively.
For Sabres defensemen Tyler Myers and Christian Ehrhoff, that sort of education could be invaluable to them. While Myers is a decent defender, Ehrhoff has had his moments while with the Sharks and Canucks that were hide-your-eyes bad when trying to defend opponents. If Numminen can help tweak Ehrhoff’s game to make him a better defender, the Sabres will be much better off for it. Ehrhoff’s offensive game is already very good, as is Myers’, but keeping them involved offensively while tightening up their defensive game are the sorts of things that can help the Sabres become stronger contenders in the Eastern Conference. Learning from Numminen’s example would help both of them have long, fruitful careers.
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.
Read more about his rise here.
In his fifth NHL game, intriguing Washington Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana scored his first NHL goal (and point).
Let’s be honest, though; Evgeny Kuznetsov deserves plenty of the credit, as he sent a fantastic pass for Vrana’s tap-in tally.
See it for yourself:
Even if that was mostly Kuznetsov, Vrana has been getting his chances so far.
He generated four shots on goal in two separate occasions so far in his four games of NHL action, so maybe he was due for a chance like this.
Considering he’s just 20 years old, the Capitals could get used to Kuznetsov to Vrana.
Update: The Capitals won 4-1, and Vrana’s first goal wasn’t the only noteworthy “first.” After piling on shots, John Carlson finally scored his first goal of the season:
No one’s going to confuse Dmitry Kulikov with Jack Eichel, but the Buffalo Sabres are likely happy to have him back after a long absence, too.
The Sabres have been on an upward trend lately (5-2-2 in their last nine games), and now they get a key defenseman back against the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
Kulikov last played on Nov. 9 and hasn’t recorded a point in 12 games, making for a tough start to his stint with the Sabres. Maybe he’ll begin to get a little more traction with his new team tonight?
He’s far from the only returning Buffalo player, either, as Josh Gorges and Nicolas Deslauriers are also back in the mix. Kulikov is slated to be on the Sabres’ second pairing with Cody Franson.
Buffalo sent Brendan Guhle to the AHL to make room for these tweaks.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without captain Nick Foligno because of an illness on Friday, opening up an opportunity for interesting prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand.
The team tweeted out his linemates as Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak as a solid fourth line facing the Detroit Red Wings.
He failed to generate much (zero points, two shots on goal) in three games so far with Columbus this season, receiving about 25 minutes of ice time over that span.
With eight goals and 12 points in 19 AHL games so far in 2016-17, there’s the thought that he could eventually make the next step to becoming a decent contributor for the Blue Jackets.
Perhaps this will constitute his first real step in that direction?
Apparently this is a pretty abrupt situation for the 21-year-old: