Tag: Dan Bylsma

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 to part ways with Arturs Irbe

New York Islanders v Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres got their goaltender on Friday, now they’re in search of a goalie coach.

According to John Vogl of The Buffalo News, Sabres’ coach Dan Bylsma told radio station WGR-AM 550 in Buffalo on Monday morning that the club would be parting ways with goaltending coach Artus Irbe.

“We’ve moved on from Arturs Irbe and are interviewing other candidates,” Bylsma told the station.

The 2014-15 season was Irbe’s lone season with the Sabres.

The 48-year-old had one year remaining on his contract.

Getting acquainted: Bylsma and Kane met for three hours

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While Evander Kane was in Buffalo last week having his shoulder evaluated he also had the opportunity to meet new Sabres’ head coach Dan Bylsma.

The two reportedly met for three hours to get to know one another.

Bylsma also spoke with former Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel about the 23-year-old forward.

As for what Noel told Bylsma?

“There is probably not a guy who is more competitive than Evander Kane,” Bylsma told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Bylsma has also considered the idea pairing Kane alongside Jack Eichel the projected No. 2 selection at next month’s NHL Draft.

“If that can work, imagine it coming at you,” Bylsma said of the pair’s speed.

Bylsma had an up close look at Eichel when the two were with Team USA at the World Hockey Championship in the Czech Republic.

“Right away in the tournament — versus Finland, versus Russia — he showed he could play against men, 16-18 minutes,” said Bylsma. “There were times he skated right by them…special plays from a special player.

“From what we know, (Eichel’s) power numbers are extremely good. His vertical, again from what we know, would be the second-best among the Sabres…so there’s a powerful base. He still needs to work on strength and to get bigger, but what he generates is an enormous amount of power. The way he can accelerate, you don’t see someone do that every day.”