Sunday was the last day of the Buffalo Sabres training camp before the team headed out to State College, PA for their first preseason game tonight against the Minnesota Wild.
White beats Gold in comeback win
In the last scrimmage, Johan Larsson and Kyle Okposo got the Gold team up 2-0 early, but White mounted a comeback to steal the win with goals from Brian Gionta, and two for Nicolas Deslauriers. The winner came from a De-Lo tip on a low point shot from Erik Burgdoerfer. (Scrimmage team lineups here)
Franson’s vision issues
Defenseman Cody Franson has been living a nightmare after a hard hit into the boards by Columbus Blue Jackets Scott Hartnell back in February.
“Every time I’d turn I’d get lightheaded because my left eye was tracking a little slower than the right, so it was a very odd, very odd injury and tough to rehab. My rehab basically consisted of trying to retrain the muscles in my left eye to kind of speed back up with the way my right was going.
“It was a lot of tracking drills and stuff with eye goggles on, trying to work on deception and things like that. Until you actually got the goggles on, you couldn’t really feel your eye muscles doing much.”
He only started skating again in July.
“It was frustrating. A lot of people asked me, ‘How ya doing?’ and it’s tough to really give them a good answer because you’re trying to train the muscles in your eye and that’s not easy to do. Once I got into visual therapy, it was easy to feel the rehab making progress, and it was actually able to give me statistical data to tell me how I was doing.
“It was an interesting injury, but it’s behind me. Everything is good and I’m healthy.”
On how he thinks he can fit in this season.
“The first 20 games Bogo was hurt last year, so I was playing a role I was comfortable with. When he came back, things changed a little bit, so I had to adapt to a different role. I struggled with it last year trying to play in that lower-minute range. I pride myself on being a power-play guy, and I wasn’t on it at the end of the year.
“I’m taking it very seriously right now trying to re-establish myself in this lineup and make it tough on the coaches to not play me. I knew this was going to be a big year for me, and in order to have a big year I had to come in here and prove my worth in camp and try and give myself the best chance to put my right foot forward out of the gate.”
Franson will wear the #6 sweater this year instead of the #46 he had last season.
“I wore 6 all through juniors and while I was in the AHL. It was my favorite number to wear. When I came up to Nashville I had to switch to 4 because Shea Weber was wearing 6, so I’ve worn 4 pretty much everywhere I’ve went since then.
“Forty-six was really all that I had to choose from when I got here last year, and I wasn’t a fan of the number. It went along with probably the worst year of my career, so when the six came available it was an easy choice to get out of that number.”
Girgs looking for redemption
After a down-year last season, Zemgus Girgensons is looking for some offensive consistency this year.
"Definitely a little bit more pressure to do better after a down year. You want to prove to everyone what you're capable of and the last couple days, I've been going pretty hard. I'm trying to put everything out there and show I'm back.”
Deslaurier an offensive force?
Nicolas Deslauriers showed off an added dimension to his aggression with a pair of goals in the last scrimmage game.
"I think for me, as not a top-six guy - obviously, you always want to be in that top six - but for me my job is completely different. I think every camp for me is really important and that's why I just try to work hard over the summer and come here ready and just treat every camp like I have to make the team."
Busy week for the Sabres
Buffalo play tonight at the Pegula Ice Arena on the Penn State campus. The venue was built by the Sabres’ owners, Kim and Terry Pegula in 2013 with a $102 million. Tonight’s tilt at 7 p.m. will be the first NHL game to be played at the arena.
The Sabres are back home tomorrow to play the Ottawa Senators at the newly-renamed KeyBank Center. The team will practice in the arena on Wednesday before another back-to-back. They go up to the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines, ON for their first look at the 2016 Draft first pick Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs, before a replay in Buffalo on Friday night.
There will be no television broadcast for tonight’s game against the Wild, but there’s radio commentary on WGR 550. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. with Dan Dunleavy and Andrew Peters on the call.