Injury bug starting to hit Sabres

Robert Hagg has been able to stay healthy even though he's Buffalo's best shot blocker

Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – Injuries are starting to pile up for the Buffalo Sabres through three games of the season.

Vinnie Hinostroza did not practice on Wednesday, while Cody Eakin crashed into the net and had to leave the ice. Hinostroza was on a maintenance day and the Sabres say he should be OK. Eakin was still being evaluated after practice with an update coming on Thursday.

Rasmus Dahlin got hit in the face with a puck during Tuesday’s game and had to wear a full face shield Wednesday.

Those injuries come on top of the ones Buffalo already has in Casey Mittelstadt, Henri Jokiharju and Mattias Samuelsson. You can also throw Jack Eichel in there too, since he’s still on the team.

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Robert Hagg is ninth in the NHL in blocked shots with nine in three games. That’s only two behind the league leaders. Hagg is fourth on the Sabres in ice-time at 19:02 per-game. The 26-year-old understands what his role is on this team.

“That’s what I’m trying to bring every night. Play hard, play physical and blocking shots when you have to do it," Hagg said, "I don’t know if I can say I was lucky, but it’s part of my game, and I’ll try to do that to help the team win.”

In the first three games, the Sabres seem to be able to wear teams down in the third period. Tough practices are now the norm instead of being a punishment.

“The way you practice is usually the way you play too," Hagg said. "We try to bring high intensity every time we go on the ice, and I thought training camp was unbelievable. [Don Granato]’s been doing a good job getting us in shape.”

When Hagg found out he was traded to Buffalo back in July, he told head coach Don Granato that he wants to use this opportunity to be a better defenseman.

“It's games, practice; most of it is confidence too, where if you have confidence from your coaches and your teammates, you keep growing as well,” Hagg said.

The Swedish-born defenseman has done very well being paired with Mark Pysyk. They seem to complement each other, and Hagg has been impressed with the veteran blue liner.

“He’s unbelievable to play with," Hagg said. "He’s in the right spot at the right time, and I hope we can build something from that.”

Even though there haven’t been a lot of fans at all three games, they have been livelier than 19,000 fans have been here in Buffalo in 10 seasons. In those years, the team gave them nothing to cheer about.

Granato wants his team to play exciting hockey, and they really helped the fans put energy in the building all three nights. Hagg was amazed with what he saw after Game 1 this past Thursday.

“I was sitting in the third period actually having goose bumps when they were singing and clapping and all that. It was a lot of fun,” Hagg said.

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Wednesday’s lines:

Skinner – Cozens – Bjork
Caggiula – Ruotsalainen – Hayden
Asplund – Thompson – Olofsson
Girgensons – Eakin – Okposo

Butcher – Dahlin
Bryson – Miller
Hagg – Pysyk