Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – All Zemgus Girgensons knows is the Buffalo Sabres. He was a first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and the 28-year-old has played nine seasons with the Sabres, playing 577 games.
If you’re looking for goals, Girgensons isn’t your man. He only averages 11 goals over 82 games.
However, what you get is a player hard on the puck, hard on the forecheck, and he will gives his all every shift.
The only thing Girgensons has known from this organization since he was drafted is losing and losing badly. He’s seen his team draft first overall twice and second overall twice and it’s just been a miserable hockey existence until Don Granato showed up. Now, for the first time, Girgensons is loving coming to the rink, “This is the most fun I’ve had coming to the rink every day. It’s fun hanging around the guys and playing good hockey is another part of it.”
After losing eight straight games, this team has gone 10-3-2 and won five games in a row. Girgensons said, “I think we have improved every day as a team and the potential I saw last season is higher now, so to see these guys play the way they play, it’s nice to see.”
The Sabres are 9-6-0 on the road and have won six of their last seven away from home. Don Granato said there may be a few reasons why, “On the road we’ve been able to play without fear, without hesitation and that’s just the psychological component, so if that’s impacted the final result or not, I don’t know that and during the Samuelsson injury, we had many other injuries on D, so it was a depleted roster.”
The Sabres are 14-4-2 with Samuelsson in the lineup and 3-10-0 without him.
The Sabres play in Boston on Saturday and face a Bruins team that leads the NHL with a 28-4-3 record. Buffalo leads the NHL averaging four goals per game, but Boston is second at 3.80. The Sabres lost to Boston in Buffalo 3-1.
That was a game where Tage Thompson’s shorthanded goal held up until late in the second period when Patrice Bergeron scored on the power play. Boston took the lead just past the midway point of the third period and then Bergeron put it away at 18:11 beating Craig Anderson.
What made that loss worse was Buffalo was facing Boston’s third string goalie in Keith Kinkaid and he stopped 30 of 31 shots.
Boston hasn’t let up all season. Former Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark is 20-1-1 this season with a 1.90 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage. Girgensons loves games like this, “I think everyone should be excited. They’re the best team and there’s nothing better than playing the best team in the league and it’s a good opportunity for us to go get it.”
David Pastrnak is Boston’s leading scorer with 24 goals and 24 assists for 48 points in 35 games. Brad Marchand has 28 points in 27 games.
Since losing in Arizona, the Bruins are 7-0-2. Boston hasn’t lost in regulation at home all season going 18-0-2. The two shootout losses came to the Vegas Golden Knights and the Los Angeles Kings.
Join Brian Koziol and me on Saturday at noon for the pregame when you’ll hear from Granato, Girgensons and Dylan Cozens.