Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – With Buffalo Sabres goalie Eric Comrie having to leave Tuesday’s game against the Ottawa Senators with a lower-body injury, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has been called up from the Rochester Americans.
After the game in Ottawa, head coach Don Granato said Comrie will miss some time.
In nine games with Rochester this season, Luukkonen is 6-3-0 with a 3.07 goals-against average and an .898 save percentage. Luukkonen leads the AHL with his six wins.
Luukkonen’s numbers went sideways in late October when he gave up five goals to the Syracuse Crunch. Then in his next game, he was pulled after 47:15 when he gave up six goals to the Laval Rocket.
In his other seven games, Luukkonen has given up three goals or less. In four of those games, it’s been two goals or less. In his last three starts, he’s only allowed six goals.
In 13 career NHL games, Luukkonen is 3-8-2 with a 3.08 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage.
Luukkonen is joining a team that, to me, has lost its confidence and its swagger. Dating back to last year, for 38 games, they went into games knowing they could win, not hoping they could win.
I especially saw it in the loss to the Senators on Tuesday. After the game, Rasmus Dahlin didn’t seem confident. He wasn’t the guy who knew he was one of the best in the NHL, and knew that he could help lead his team with his great play.
Dahlin actually had shown cockiness in his confidence, which is, in my mind, a huge positive.
Granato also seemed like he was a little bit perplexed after Tuesday’s game.
“We’re a little bit into a frustrating time, and we have to push through it," Granato said.
“We know our roster is young and we know they have a lot of growing. Right now, I would say the challenge the last three games has been a little bit more tension and anxiety with psychological components. That’s why you squeeze the stick a little tighter, and that’s something, unfortunately, that we’ve got to grow through and hopefully develop past, and become better because of it."
Craig Anderson is a veteran leader for this group. He had to take over in net after Comrie left and he did well, allowing just one goal on 15 shots in 25:33 of work. He’s seen winning streaks and losing streaks of all kinds in his long career.
“There’s no magic stick we’re going to wave at it. It has to come from within," said Anderson after Wednesday's loss. "We’re going to have to look at ourselves in the mirror and say, 'Where can we, as an individual and we as a group, help the team win?'
“It’s a detail oriented game, and if you’re not sharp on your details, they end up in the back of your net. It’s small things. It’s things that you don’t even think are important that make the difference in teams that are winning, because they do the details properly, and do it every time they’re on the ice.”
It seems like Dylan Cozens has lost some of his swagger. He seems like he’s hesitating at times, just a bit. Jacob Bryson has run into some tough times in his last five or six games.
Alex Tuch and Jeff Skinner just broke out of, what were, tough streaks for them.
JJ Peterka had some glorious scoring chances against Ottawa, including a 2-on-0 breakaway against a goalie with some of the worst numbers in the NHL. However, he doesn’t look confident thinking, “I’m going to score here.”
It’s tough when you’ve got four very young players in your lineup all trying to find their way in the NHL.
For the most part, Owen Power is doing a good job, but it’s been a tough go of it for Peterka, Jack Quinn and Peyton Krebs. I believe all three will be excellent NHL players, but Dahlin and Tage Thompson have taught us that it can take some time to learn the NHL and then excel in it.
This is a huge challenge and test for Granato. Some coaches run out of answers, and that can’t be Granato. As he said last week, he believes in the path the Sabres are on, and he said it will 100% work.
Unfortunately, and unfairly for him, some fans will lie the last 11 years of ineptitude at his doorstep, and the honeymoon may, indeed, be coming to an end.