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The Landlubber’s Guide to the Buffalo Sabres

What you need to know ahead of tonight’s Kraken game

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Los Angeles Kings Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Hey you. You’re swept up in all this Seattle Kraken hype. You want to know more about hockey but don’t know where to start. Well, we want to help make these games easy and fun for you to watch.

Throughout the season, we’ll release Landlubber’s Guides designed with the new fan in mind. This includes basic need-to-know info for you to absorb before you watch Kraken games and highlights.

Let’s dive in to the Buffalo Sabres.

Are They Any Good?

Two years ago, no. Last year, even more no. This year, it appears they are once again not good. They started the season off strong with a 5-2-1 record through the month of October, surprising most analysts who assumed they would once again be competing for draft slots rather than playoff spots this season. They have fallen back to Earth since then, however, going 3-8-2 in November so far. They’ve lost 5 of their last 6 now, with the only win coming against the struggling Montreal Canadiens.

Who Should I Look Out For?

You won’t have to look out for Tage Thompson (#72) — you can’t miss him. 6’6”, 215 lbs. He is centering the top line for Buffalo, and notching tallies like this one.

Next up is winger Victor Olofsson (#71), who makes it look easy...

...and fellow Swede Rasmus Asplund (#74), another right wing with silky mitts...

Rounding out the quartet of young talent is Dylan Cozens (#24), the number 7 overall pick in 2019 and last year’s standout performer at the World Junior Championships. He’s getting 3rd line duties at present, along with manning the right half-boards on the first power play unit, and he’s a threat whenever he has the puck.

On the back end the Sabres are high on this kid Rasmus Dahlin (#26), and it’s not difficult to figure out why...

Which brings us to 40-year-old netminder Craig Anderson (#41). He was drafted more than 20 years ago. He has played through two labor stoppages. He’s been playing so long his career win-loss record includes 2 ties. When he was a rookie Mario Lemieux, Brett Hull, Steve Yzerman, Al MacInnis, and Dominik Hasek were all still playing. WTF, man...

This past summer the Sabres were well into the free agent signing period with only middling ‘keeper Dustin Tokarski under contract. The sun was setting on July before Buffalo inked Anderson to a one-year, league-minimum contract. He had seen only 4 games with Washington last season, and everyone simply assumed he was headed for retirement. But here he is, with a 4-2-0 record and a .921 save percentage backstopping Buffalo to a winning record.

When he’s on, he can be a real pain in the ass...

Any Seattle Ties?

The only thing I could find was that Buffalo forward Drake Caggiula played under Seattle head coach Dave Hakstol at the University of North Dakota. Beyond that, nobody played their amateur hockey locally in the WHL, and nobody grew up here. I think Cody Eakin may have had a flight connect through SEA-TAC in 2012.

Odds And Ends

  • Despite Buffalo being on the other side of the country, Seattle will actually play the Sabres twice this month. The Kraken won their first meeting 5-2 in Seattle.
  • Buffalo has not had a winning record since the 2011-12 season, and has not been to the playoffs since then either — the longest active drought in the NHL.
  • Seattle selected defenseman Will Borgen in the expansion draft from the Sabres. Borgen got made his Seattle debut in the Panthers game, playing just shy of 14 minutes.
  • In 1974 Buffalo GM George “Punch” Imlach played a joke on everyone by selecting a player in the amateur draft who didn’t exist. The gag lasted all the way to training camp before Imlach finally let the cat out of the bag that Taro Tsujimoto from the Tokyo Katanas wasn’t real.
  • And finally, the Sabres’ Mark Pysyk was the beneficiary of a Christmas gift from then-Arizona Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith. Pysyk’s shot was deflected up into the air, came down, and... well, you’ll see.

Puck drop tonight at 4pm Pacific. Local TV coverage is on ROOT Sports NW; out-of-market fans can watch on ESPN+. If you can’t have a screen in front of you, catch the action locally on 950 KJR AM, or on SiriusXM Channel 91.