Tag: Josh Gorges

Buffalo Sabres v Montreal Canadiens

Sabres’ Gorges is happy about how his knee is healing


When he wasn’t suffering through losses with the Buffalo Sabres last season, veteran defenseman Josh Gorges was dealing with pain.

His 2014-15 season was cut short by knee surgery back in February. The 31-year-old is no stranger to rehabbing injuries, so perhaps that explains why he seems optimistic when speaking with the Montreal Gazette late last week.

“It’s been a long road, six months of doing rehab every day, trying to get things back,” Gorges said. “The last couple of weeks I’ve really taken another step in my recovery – from just getting back on the ice to now starting to feel normal in my skating again, able to do all the things I want to do in a game. I’ve been really happy with how things have gone lately.”

Taking the slow approach might make some antsy, but Gorges knows he “doesn’t need to be an idiot” at this stage of his career.

On that note, he seems comfortable transitioning to the role of telling others not to be idiots.

The Sabres are bringing in a lot of young talent, and while Gorges insists that everyone needs to take part of the leadership task, he stands as one of the most experienced hands on the roster. Some might argue, then, that he’s nearly as important for the locker room as he is on the ice.

Of course, his words won’t resonate much if he can’t play at all. It sounds like he’s putting himself in position for a healthy return.

Sabres’ biggest question: Defense

Zach Bogosian, Boone Jenner

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.

Ennis sees ‘better days’ ahead for Buffalo

Tyler Ennis

These last two seasons couldn’t have gone much worse for Buffalo from a statistical perspective. The hope is that the Sabres will take a significant step forward in their rebuilding efforts in 2015-16.

“It’s definitely the start for sure of better days,” Tyler Ennis said, per the Associated Press. “There should be optimism.”

While some fans might have been comfortable with writing this season off in the hopes of securing one of Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel in the draft, finishing in last place was still frustrating for players like Ennis.

“We understand what happened this year, trying to get our future put in place,” Josh Gorges said. “But now, it’s time to take a step forward.”

How big of a step remains to be seen. The Sabres are expected to take McDavid or Eichel depending on whether or not they win the draft lottery or have to settle for the second overall pick. Evander Kane will also finally make his Buffalo debut next season after being acquired in February. He’s been recovering from a shoulder injury.

Those two additions alone might be a significant boost, but given the huge gap between Buffalo and much of the league, this team might continue to struggle next season. The Sabres have the entire summer to improve further on the trade and free agent markets, but regardless they do, the prospects in their system combined with the addition of McDavid or Eichel provides cause for the optimism people like Ennis feel.