Newest Sabres already making big impact on the ice

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Buffalo Sabres forward Taylor Hall (4) celebrates a goal by defenseman Jake McCabe (19) during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Heading into Thursday night’s second match up against the New York Rangers, the Sabres have a 3-3-1 record. With captain Jack Eichel leading the team with eight points, including his first goal of the season that was the game winner for Buffalo on Tuesday, Sabres newcomers have already made an impact on the ice.

“They’ve come into a group that’s already built on good people. Everybody’s having fun in the right way. That was here already with the core group that we brought with from last season, and now these players were all selected on that merit of strong character and specific role players that would 100% embrace those responsibilities. The group has come a cohesive unit quite quickly,” Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger said. “They’ve been unbelievable students at our meetings, they’re asking excellent questions, they reach out to the questions permanently to deepen the knowledge base, and all of that is leading to what you’re seeing right now, that they are truly Buffalo Sabres full on here.”

The Sabres made a big splash signing former NHL MVP Taylor Hall in the offseason, and through seven games, He has become a major addition to the team. Hall scored the first goal of the year for Buffalo in the season opener, and since then, has added five assists to tie Victor Olofsson for the second-most points on the team with six, behind Eichel.

“We have such a good group of guys, we have so much fun, we’re so close, we’re tight with each other. Coming off such a lengthy layoff, we’re all in the same boat. We’re excited to be back together and we welcome with open arms,” Sabres center Curtis Lazar said. “Their personalities have done nothing but added to our dressing room and it adds on the ice too. They’ve added some different elements and roles and they’re really helping us out.”

Along with the addition of Hall, the Sabres added Eric Staal, Cody Eakin, Tobias Reider, Matt Irwin and Riley Sheahan in the offseason. After playing in the junior league for the 2019-20 season, Dylan Cozens made his major league debut with the Sabres this season.

“It’s a great group of guys, it didn’t take long to get acclimated with the coaching staff, management, and the players in the system. It’s a great group of guys, really welcoming, a group that really works hard,” Sabres center Cody Eakin said. “The attention to detail in meetings to transition to the ice is huge, guys are willing to put in the work and it makes it easy when guys are going out there, working, and working for the same cause.”

Staal has two goals and two assists through the first seven games. Cozens has three points, two goals and an assist. Reider has two goals so far, one in the season opener and the other in Tuesday’s game against the Rangers. Sheahan has a goal and an assist, and Irwin has one assist on the season.

A deadly penalty killer on the ice, Cody Eakin has also won 53% of the face offs he’s attempted already this season.

“I think the excitement from both sides probably is a pretty big key. Guys that were already here were excited to have the additions, and the guys coming in were excited about what was already here,” Sabres center Eric Staal said. “The combination of that, and it takes time to feel totally comfortable and confident, but we’re making progress and certain moments at certain times we’ve gotten key contributions from guys. You saw that yesterday with Eakin taking some huge face offs, Reider with the big goal, good defensive effort to finish the game from some key guys making great plays. That breeds confidence, hopefully everyone feels a part of what we’re doing here and we just keep progressing.”

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