Tag: Chad Johnson

Zach Bogosian, Boone Jenner

Sabres’ biggest question: Defense


As much as the Buffalo Sabres have improved lately, it still seems like they’re going to struggle on defense.

Honestly, there are strong odds that they’ll struggle a lot.

You can trot out the simplest stats (Buffalo allowed a league-worst shots on goal average of 35.6 per game, two more than second-worst Toronto) or go a little deeper (the Sabres’ Fenwick Close was downright ghastly), but the bottom line is that Buffalo was atrocious on D. Their offensive firepower was meek in 2014-15, yet the Sabres’ work in their own end was the leading reason people described them as “historically inept.”

Just look at the dregs of NHL.com’s “SAT” stat and you’ll see just how much worse Buffalo was than the rest of the worst:

26. Columbus: -365
27. Toronto: -515
28. Calgary: -839
29. Colorado: -984
30. Buffalo: -1,789


GM Tim Murray made this team better in many ways – and certain facets should benefit Buffalo defensively – but the personnel is still lacking.

Even if Dan Byslma’s a big difference-maker, it’s difficult to imagine him working many miracles with some combination of Rasmus Ristolainen, Zach Bogosian (pictured), Josh Gorges, Mike Weber, Matt Donovan, Mark Pysyk, Jake McCabe and Carlo Colaiacovo.

(Seriously, take a step back and ponder that group for a moment.)

Look, players like Ristolainen could very well make significant strides in 2015-16. Buffalo is also likely to enjoy better two-way play from its forward group, as Ryan O’Reilly and David Legwand both possess some defensive chops. Again, Byslma’s systems could at least drag the Sabres closer to respectability, as well.

If you dial down the optimism to more reasonable levels, the Sabres are likely to put a ton of pressure on Robin Lehner and Chad Johnson next season, as that defense stands as a work in progress … at best.

Sabres hire Allen to replace Irbe as goalie coach

Tim Murray, Dan Bylsma

The Buffalo Sabres rounded out Dan Bylsma’s coaching staff on Friday, hiring former Chicago Blackhawks goalie development boss Andrew Allen as their new goalie coach.

Allen, 38, replaces the outgoing Arturs Irbe.

A former AHL and ECHL netminder, Allen was with Chicago for the last four seasons, spending the majority of his time tutoring netminders with the club’s AHL affiliate in Rockford. During Allen’s tenure, a number of solid backups rose through the ranks: Carter Hutton (now Pekka Rinne’s No. 2 in Nashville), Antti Raanta (now Henrik Lundqvist’s backup in New York) and Scott Darling (now Corey Crawford’s backup in Chicago).

In Buffalo, Allen will work with newly-acquired starter Robin Lenher and No. 2 Chad Johnson, acquired at last season’s trade deadline.

With this hire, Bylsma’s staff is now complete — Allen will join assistant coaches Terry Murray, Dave Barr and Dan Lambert on the Sabres’ bench.

Lindback wants to re-sign in Buffalo

Anders Lindback

Even after losing the 2015 draft lottery, Buffalo will still be able to add top-tier prospect Jack Eichel to its already impressive crop of young players and prospects. So there’s reason to be optimistic about the Sabres going forward, but one area that they still have to address is their goaltending.

They only have one netminder with more than a game worth of NHL experience under contract and that’s 28-year-old backup Chad Johnson. Meanwhile Anders Lindback is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but he has expressed an interest in coming back.

Lindback had a disastrous start to the season with Dallas, but he posted a 2.76 GAA and .924 save percentage in 16 contests with Buffalo.

“It’s all about giving the team a chance, and I think I did most games,” Lindback told the Buffalo News. “I proved to myself and to everybody that I can play in this league, but I still think there’s room for improvement. I think I can get better, and I think I will.

“One thing I want to improve is just be at a higher level all the time and never give up those bad goals. You look at the best goalies in the league, that’s what they’re good at. Every night they’re making those saves. That’s where I want to be.”

He’s convinced the Buffalo Sabres will be able to climb out of the NHL basement after being stuck there for the last two seasons. The question is if he fits into Sabres GM Tim Murray’s plans. So far there hasn’t been any contract negotiations between the two parties.

Goalie nods: Hackett goes for Sabres in McEichel Derby

Matt Hackett

All the latest from the blue paint…

No Lindback for Buffalo

The NHL’s two worst teams — standings-wise, anyway — will do battle tonight when the Sabres host the Coyotes in Buffalo, and Buffalo will start little-used Matthew Hackett in net ahead of Anders Lindback, who’s been quite solid of late.

Hackett, 25, is 0-3-0 this year with a .893 save percentage and 4.34 GAA. He’s spent the majority of the season AHL Rochester, but was summoned to the Sabres after Chad Johnson went down to injury almost immediately after being acquired via trade.

In hist last outing, a 3-0 loss to Nashville, Hackett allowed three goals on 43 shots, good for a .930 save percentage.

For the Coyotes, Mike Smith will get the start in goal. Smith’s turnaround after a dreadful start has been one of the few bright spots in Arizona this season, and is worth mentioning — the veteran has been very good in nine games this month, allowing just 21 goals on 326 shots for a .936 save percentage.


Anaheim at Boston: Frederik Andersen vs. Tuukka Rask (probable)

Kings at Isles: Jonathan Quick (probable) vs. Jaroslav Halak

Devils at Caps: Cory Schneider vs. Braden Holtby

Pens at ‘Canes: Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Cam Ward

Preds at Bolts: Pekka Rinne (probable) vs. Ben Bishop

Sharks at Wings: Antti Niemi vs. Jimmy Howard

Rangers at Sens: Cam Talbot vs. Andrew Hammond

Panthers at Leafs: Roberto Luongo vs. Jonathan Bernier

Habs at Jets: Dustin Tokarski vs. Ondrej Pavelec

Avs at Canucks: Semyon Varlamov vs. (No Vancouver starter yet.)

Get your game notes: Sabres at Bruins

Buffalo Sabres v Boston Bruins

Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Boston Bruins hosting the Buffalo Sabres at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:


• Last game (Sunday): WSH def. BOS 2-0 – BOS shut out for just the 4th time this season, second time vs. WSH.

• Both season-high 5-game winning streak and 11 straight games scoring first streak snapped.

• Despite the loss, the Bruins have been playing better hockey since Feb. 22. They are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games, and have closed the gap between themselves and teams just ahead.

• Bruins need this game: Of the Bruins 13 remaining games, 6 are against teams currently in playoff position. Another 4 are against teams in the playoff hunt, including Thursday’s matchup at OTT.

• Sabres slumping continues: Last game (Monday): WSH def. BUF 4-3 SO.

• Surrendered two 1-goal leads; allowed 2 PP goals.

• BUF has lost 7 straight games (0-5-2 record), while scoring 9 goals in their 6 games this month.

• If BUF finishes last overall, they will have a 20.0% chance of landing the first pick in the NHL draft.

• Scoring woes continue: Last season, BUF set an NHL record for the fewest goals in the expansion era of hockey dating to back to 1967 (150 goals; 1.83 g/gm). This season, Buffalo’s scoring is occurring at an even worse rate: 1.81 goals/gm (last in NHL).


• Lone All-Star and number-one center Zemgus Girgensons was placed on IR on February 26 after blocking a shot by CBJ defenseman James Wisniewski (since traded to ANA) off his right foot two days prior. Whether or not he will return this season is still to be determined.

• Girgensons’ injury, combined with the trade of veteran center Torrey Mitchell (to MTL), have left Buffalo without much depth (or production) amongst its 4 centers, though both Larsson (5 points in last 4 games) and Hodgson scored last night. With a PP goal Monday vs. WSH, Tyler Ennis now has 5 points (3G-2A) in his last 6 games since returning from a groin injury. He leads the team in goals (18), power-play goals (6), and points (38).

• Since Feb. 19, Matt Moulson has been the team’s most consistent scorer. He logged an assist vs. WSH, giving him 11 points (2G-9A) in the last 12 games.

• Chad Johnson (lower-body) was injured before he could make an appearance with the Sabres after being acquired at the trade deadline from NYI.

• This has made Anders Lindback the everyday goalie – he has started 5 of the 6 games in March, posting an 0-3-2 record, 2.70 GAA, and a .924 SV% in the month.

• Lindback has not won a game in which he has started this season (b/w DAL and BUF). In those 12 starts, he has a record of 0-10-2.

• His two wins this season both came in relief appearances with the Stars.

• In his last 2 starts combined, Lindback has stopped 66 of 70 shots faced (vs. NYR & vs. WSH).

• Should Matt Hackett be named the starter of this 2nd game of a back-to-back, he would be making just his 3rd start of the season.

• He was pulled after allowing 4 goals on 23 shots at WSH on March 7.

• This season: 0-2-0 record, 5.19 GAA, and a .867 SV%.

• In his only career start vs. BOS last season, he allowed 3 goals on 23 shots in the 4-1 loss.


• David Krejci took part in the team’s morning skate today. This is the first time he has skated with the team since suffering a partially torn MCL at STL on Feb. 20. Krejci is in the 4th week of a 4-6 week timetable that was originally given.

• Boston’s recent winning ways can be attributed to the team’s newfound production out of young forwards Ryan Spooner (3rd-year) and David Pastrnak (rookie).

• After being recalled on Feb. 21, Spooner has 9 points (3G-6A) in the last 11 games.

• Pastrnak now has 8 points (3G-5A) in the last 9 games. See chart below that shows his scoring outburst.

• 2014 1st-round pick (25th overall) and the youngest player in the NHL (May, 25, 1996 – 18 years old).

• Team-leading scorer Patrice Bergeron has also picked up the scoring load for BOS during this surge, logging 9 points (3G-6A), +4 rating in the last 11 games.

• Career vs. BUF: 32 points (9G, 23A) in 54 games.

• 3rd- year defenseman Dougie Hamilton is enjoying a career-year for BOS. For the second consecutive season, he has topped his previous amount of goals, assists, and points.

• Leads all BOS defensemen in points this season (40).

• Career vs. BUF: 9 points (5G-4A) in 11 games.

• Tuukka Rask’s strong goaltending of late has helped the Bruins stay in playoff position. In his last 9 starts, he has gone 6-2-1, with a 1.64 GAA, and a .949 SV%.

• Niklas Svedberg is expected to get the start in net vs. BUF.

• This season: 7-5-0 record, 2.43 GAA, and a .918 SV%.

• He’s won his last 2 starts (2.44 GAA, .929 SV%) at NJ (Feb. 27) and vs. DET (March 8).