Thursday, October 2, 2014

Girgensons yawns on GR. Plus Reinhart and Grigorenko

Reprinted with permission from

The WGR morning guys must have woken up Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons a tad early to day for a phone interview. At the 4:40 mark, Girgensons was answering a comment by Sal Capaccio about his strong command of the English language when a yawn emerged.

Being the tropper that he is, Girgensons never trudged on through and answered the question throughout the gaping yawn. Jeremy White, was at the helm as Howard Simon was off and tried to smooth things out by bringing the very short 5:30 interview to a respectable close.

Still not sure what caused the yawn, a late night, over exertion from training camp or a previous question (statement?) from White that lasted over 40 seconds.

If WGR is looking to have "Gus" on regularly, they may want to push his timeslot back an hour or two so that he may fully wake up before the call.


Speaking of WGR, Hockey Hotline sidekick Andrew Peters came to the defense of Sabres prospect Sam Reinhart.

Peters alluded to the multitude of questions being thrown the young center's way concerning his lack of scoring thus-far in the preseason. Reinhart still has yet to record a point in seven September appearances.

Like Peters and host Kevin Sylvester said, beat reporters are under the gun for a sound-bite, even if it's only preseason. And editors are looking for a story that sells. Hence, the 18-yr. old Reinhart is up against the wall fielding questions about his lack of scoring.

From all reports, Reinhart is exactly what the scouting report said he would be. He just hasn't hit the scoresheet, for whatever reason. The mental and physical skills are there, but by all accounts he still needs add strength and a little bit of bulk to his 6'1" frame.

Expectations from fans and media were high for the 2014 2nd-overall pick. The Sabres were by far the worst team in the league last season and there was room for Reinhart to make the team out of junior.

Edmonton Oiler's assistant coach Craig Ramsay, who both played for and coached the Sabres, was with the Tampa Bay Lightning when they won the Cup in 2004. When he first started with the Bolts in 2001, he had 21 yr olds Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards plus a very young player in Martin St. Louis.

Ramsay chimed in on how young players should approach the NHL game (via Mark Spector,,) “The key issue is for them to understand that the fact they were so dominant as a young player doesn’t exactly translate into the NHL,” said the 63-year-old. “They have to adapt some of the things they used to get away with, that were wonderful in junior and college, to the NHL level. You have to be quicker, and the thing is when you get the puck is to keep it.

“As a (junior), you’re better than everyone else. You get that one chance, you take it to the net, you score goals. It’s wonderful. It just doesn’t work that way (in the NHL). You’ve got to work with teammates. You’ve got to keep the puck. That’s the next step — being part of a team concept,” he said. “You’re not expected to carry the weight of the world every night (like in junior). But you are expected to participate with those players around you.”

Development time differs for every player. The Lightning sent 2013 3rd-overall pick Jonathan Drouin back to his junior club last season. Drouin dominated to the tune of 29 goals and 108 points on the way to the Memorial Cup with the Halifax Mooseheads.

A similar path for Reinhart may be the best approach, regardless of talent-level on the roster this year, to ensure his proper development and to keep him away from a potential Mikhail Grigorenko-type scenario this season.

"Sam's like any other player," said head coach Ted Nolan after today's practice, "You want to see the progression, want to see them get better and better. [He's] a one of those highly intelligent players, now we want to seem him doing [things] a little bit better."

Just where that progression will take place after this preseason is yet to be determined.


Speaking of Grigorenko, he has really impressed this training camp and good for him. His first two seasons in the NHL were pretty much a disaster that paralleled what the indecisiveness and confusion the Sabres were going through.

"Grigs" is slowly growing into a man. He decided to ditch his childishness and start working towards an NHL career. He came into camp with a bigger, stronger 219 lb. body and a new attitude. “The first practice I saw him (was) by far the best I’ve ever seen him skate and pay attention in practice,” Nolan said. And he carried that throughout the camp.

Grigorenko will again have Cody Hodgson on his wing tonight, but instead of Chris Stewart on the right side, Drew Stafford slides into that slot. Hodgson and Grigorenko hooked up last game with the latter potting a sweet goal on a nice feed.

Hodgson has been noticing Grigorenko and the growth of his confidence. “He’s secure in himself,” said Hodgson after practice today. “It show's on the ice. He’s got more power and speed now, for sure. I think confidence is the biggest thing with him.

I’ve always watched him a lot, and I thought our games could mesh, because he’s always thinking about how to get in position and is offensive person. So I can kind of see what he’s doing on the ice.”

Nolan has taken notice as well but continues to stress consistency. "[Grigorenko's] been looking really good," he said. "He’s strong on the puck. He’s been making some really good plays. So the biggest thing right now is keep seeing him do it. It's consistency.

"He's made some great strides and has been doing it on a regular basis. The one thing we'd like to see him do tonight is do what he's been doing."

During the past two seasons the word "bust" was being thrown around haphazardly by fans when it came to Grigorenko. And the media, although not using that word, was beginning to lean towards it.

Through it all, Kris Baker of correctly pointed out that the Sabres did the right thing by putting Grigorenko's career in reset mode and so far it looks as if it's ready to pay off for the player and the team.


The roster for tonight's final home preseason game against Washington looks to be:

Matt Moulson/Tyler Ennis/Brian Gionta
Marcus Foligno/Reinhart/Stewart
Zac Dalpe/Girgensons/Brian Flynn.

On defense, Andre Benoit, Josh Gorges, Jake McCabe, Tyler Myers, Tyson Strachan, Nikita Zadorov.

In goal, Jhonas Enroth.

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