Opposing teams are starting to feel rather confident about defending the Buffalo Sabres offense.
Just ask the Boston Bruins.
Reports from Boston media outlets indicated the Bruins may give backup goaltender Chad Johnson his first start of the season when they meet the Sabres at First Niagara Center tonight.
“We’ll probably give him a shot there at some point, and Buffalo may be one of the games we give him,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said to Boston media after the team’s practice Monday.
The schedule has allowed Tuukka Rask to start all seven of Boston’s games this season. He has a 1.29 goals-against average with a .954 save percentage and a 5-2-0 record.
But with the Bruins playing three games in four days, including going back to Boston on Thursday to host the NHL-leading San Jose Sharks, tonight might be the night for Johnson.
“There’s been a lot of breaks in this first month, and obviously you want to get Tuukka on a roll,” Johnson said. “For myself, it’s just about having good practices. Now we have some back-to-backs coming up and you just try to be ready. It’s just sort of getting comfortable, for myself and the team getting accustomed to how I like to play.”
Johnson has played in 10 NHL games with the New York Rangers and the Phoenix Coyotes. He has a career mark of 3-2-2 with a 1.97 goals-against average, a .929 save percentage and one shutout.
The Sabres had three days between games, and after an off day Sunday went to work on basics at practice Monday and Tuesday.
“You know when things aren’t going well, really the most simple solution is to make everything easy, make everything something you’re comfortable doing,” goaltender Ryan Miller said Tuesday. “We talked about it for a while, but we really have to harp on it and lean on getting pucks deep and getting to work. We see a big difference in our offense when we get pucks deep. It’s going to help out our back end, too. Our ‘D’ will have a little bit less pressure and will be able to jump up and help a little bit more.
“People are probably sick of hearing me say it, but it’s a chess game you’ve got to play. You gotta set it up first. You gotta get the puck deep. You gotta make teams work and then you can stretch it out with passing plays. That’s what we’re looking for.”
Clarence native Kevyn Adams was named vice president and director of the HarborCenter Academy of Hockey, a premier hockey training and development program to be housed at the new facility. The academy will have a full-time staff of coaches to lead both on and off-ice programs for players and coaches.
Also announced was the expansion of the Buffalo Junior Sabres Youth Organization. The Junior A team, which plays in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, will have dedicated space at HarborCenter where it will practice and play its home games.
The organization will expand to include a total of seven teams across multiple age groups – two teams at the Pee Wee level (minor/major), two at the Bantam level (minor/major) and teams at the 16U and 18U level.
Larry Playfair was named the president of the Junior Sabres while Michael Peca will be the general manager and coach.
There was full participation at Tuesday’s practice with Corey Tropp still wearing the red noncontact jersey as he slowly returns from a broken jaw. … Patrick Kaleta was at practice, returning from New York where he had his meeting with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to appeal his 10-game suspension. A ruling on the appeal is expected today. Should Bettman uphold the suspension, Kaleta has the option to appeal to a neutral arbitrator.