National Hockey League

Atlantic Division Preview: Buffalo Sabres

nhl2BUFFALO SABRES: TEAM LOOK-AHEAD
With new head coach Ralph Krueger behind the bench, the Sabres enter the 2019-20 season looking to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the time since 2011 – which would end the longest active playoff drought in the NHL.

SEASON-OPENING STATS
* Linus Ullmark went 5-0-3 through his first nine appearances in 2018-19 (2.71 GAA, .921 SV% 1 SO), helping the Sabres post a franchise record-tying 10-game win streak from Nov. 8-27. Only three goaltenders in franchise history have earned points through each of their first five or more decisions in multiple seasons: Roger Crozier (6-0-2 in 1972-73, 7-0-0 in 1974-75, 6-0-0 in 1975-76), Don Edwards (5-0-0 in 1976-77, 4-0-1 in 1977-78) and Ryan Miller (9-0-1 in 2006-07, 5-0-1 in 2008-09).

OFFENSIVE OUTLOOK
* Jack Eichel, entering his second season as Sabres captain, can become the first Buffalo player with 80 or more points in consecutive seasons since Dale Hawerchuk reached the mark in four straight campaigns from 1990-91 to 1993-94. Among players to debut with the Sabres, Eichel can also become the third to reach the 20-goal mark in each of his first five NHL seasons all with the franchise; the others are Richard Martin from 1971-72 to 1979-80 (9 seasons) and Thomas Vanek from 2005-06 to 2012-13 (8 seasons).

* Jeff Skinner can become the second player to reach the 40-goal mark in each of his first two seasons with the Sabres, joining Pat LaFontaine in 1991-92 (46-47—93 in 57 GP) and 1992-93 (53-95—148 in 84 GP). Aside from LaFontaine, only two other Buffalo players have scored 40 or more goals in consecutive seasons: Martin from 1973-74 to 1975-76 (3 straight) and Danny Gare from 1979-80 to 1980-81 (2 straight).

* Sam Reinhart (87-118—205 in 331 GP), who looks to record his fourth 20-goal season in 2019-20, can become the fourth member of the 2014 NHL Draft class to score 100 career regular-season tallies.

THE FUTURE IS NOW
* Rasmus Dahlin (9-35—44 in 82 GP), who is set to celebrate his 20th birthday on April 13, 2020, needs 26 regular-season points to become the sixth teenage defenseman in NHL history to record 70. He would join Phil Housley (46-86—132 in 141 GP), Ray Bourque (23-56—79 in 101 GP), Rick Hampton (22-54—76 in 151 GP), Bobby Orr (24-48—72 in 103 GP) and Scott Stevens (22-48—70 in 154 GP).

BETWEEN THE PIPES
* Carter Hutton owns a career record of 81-64-22 in 188 regular-season appearances (2.58 GAA, .913 SV%, 11 SO) and can become the fifth active undrafted goaltender to reach the 100-win mark (also Sergei Bobrovsky, Antti Niemi, Martin Jones and Cam Talbot).

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
A look at how players have fared historically in their debut game/season with the franchise:

First game with the Sabres. . .
SKATERS
Most goals: 2 – 3 players; most recent: Matt Moulson (Oct. 28, 2013)
Most assists: 2 – 9 players; most recent: Paul Szczechura (Nov. 26, 2011)
Most points: 3 – 3 players; most recent: Steve Bernier (Feb. 27, 2008)

DEFENSEMEN
Most goals: 1 – 3 players; most recent: TJ Brennan (Nov. 23, 2011)
Most assists: 2 – 2 players; most recent: John Van Boxmeer (Oct. 11, 1979)
Most points: 2 – 2 players; most recent: John Van Boxmeer (Oct. 11, 1979)

GOALTENDERS
Most saves: 42 – Michal Neuvirth (March 7, 2014)
Shutout: 2 – most recent: Clint Malarchuk (March 8, 1989)

First season with the Sabres. . .
SKATERS
Most goals: 46 – Pat LaFontaine (1991-92)
Most assists: 58 – Dale Hawerchuk (1990-91)
Most points: 93 – Pat LaFontaine (1991-92)

DEFENSEMEN
Most goals: 19 – Phil Housley (1982-83)
Most assists: 47 – Phil Housley (1982-83)
Most points: 66 – Phil Housley (1982-83)

GOALTENDERS
Most wins: 26 – Tom Barrasso (1983-84)
Most shutouts: 2 – 3 goaltenders; most recent: Jocelyn Thibault (2007-08)

— NHL Public Relations

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