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SABRES LOOK AHEAD TO OFFSEASON AS PLAYERS CLEAN OUT LOCKERS

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:59 PM / News
By Chris Ryndak  - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak)
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SABRES LOOK AHEAD TO OFFSEASON AS PLAYERS CLEAN OUT LOCKERS
Player reaction on the 2013-14 season on Locker Clean-Out Day

The season has come to an end and the Buffalo Sabres spent Monday morning cleaning out their lockers at First Niagara Center.

The Sabres finished the 2013-14 campaign in 30th place with a record of 21-51-10. It was a pretty tumultuous season for everyone involved. The team dealt with numerous changes throughout the course of the year from Ted Nolan coming in to coach in mid-November to Tim Murray being hired as the new general manager in January to the multitude of trades and injuries that seriously altered the shape of the roster.

It was a season that many players are looking to put behind them as they enter the offseason.

“There’s definitely a long list of words to describe it,” Sabres alternate captain Drew Stafford said. “‘Hard’ is one word. ‘Challenging.’ The amount of adversity that we went through with all the changes in management and players, injuries – you can go down the list of excuses, but bottom line is that this is something that we’re moving on from.

“We’re turning the page and we want to do our best this summer to get ready to put a better product on the ice for the fans. This city deserves a lot more and the onus is on us as players to perform.”

Offensively, the Sabres struggled to score goals all season long. Cody Hodgson led the team with 44 points (20+44) and Tyler Ennis set a career-high with 21 goals, which was tops for Buffalo. The Sabres averaged a League-low 1.83 goals per game.

“It was tough. It was a tough start for me and then with the changes, it got better,” Ennis said. “Finishing last place is always hard but we can’t make excuses and we’ve got to be better next year.”

Buffalo started the season with the youngest roster in the NHL and dressed five rookies – including three teenagers – in the first game of the season. Since Nolan took over behind the bench, the Sabres sent many of their young players back to juniors or the American Hockey League.

Rookie center Zemgus Girgensons, who turned 20 in January, is one player that spent the entire season developing in Buffalo. He served as an alternate captain in the season finale on Sunday.

“I think I can speak for every single young guy, to be a young guy to go through this for the first full year, it’s tough. Especially in the NHL, when you go through a losing season like this, it’s hard,” he said. “It’s just a learning experience for all of us so you can just take the best from it, learn from it and give the best advice to the next guys that come in.”

Several players that ended the season with Buffalo will be heading to Rochester as the Sabres’ AHL affiliate looks to clinch a playoff position. The Amerks need one point over the course of their final three games to lock up a postseason berth.

Mark Pysyk, Rasmus Ristolainen, Nicolas Deslauriers, Andrey Makarov and Connor Knapp will be among the healthy bodies heading back to Rochester.

The Amerks play Wednesday night in Utica and wrap up the home portion of their regular-season schedule on Friday against Syracuse before heading to Toronto on Saturday for their final game of the season.

“I haven’t played playoffs a lot in my career and it’s always nice,” Ristolainen said. “When I watch our lineup, it’s pretty good. We have a lot of skill. Hopefully we can get things going on and we can make a long playoff run.”

While the younger players will use this season as a learning experience, some of the veterans are ready to move forward and turn things around as soon as possible.

“I’ve had a pretty bad taste in my mouth the last couple years and this one’s probably even worse,” defenseman Mike Weber said. “I mean, three years in a row not making the playoffs, you play the game to make the playoffs. You play the game to compete for a Stanley Cup.”

Weber is looking forward to getting healthy in the offseason and coming back strong in the fall.

“I think our fans have been very supportive, but at the same time, you don’t want to disappoint people. You don’t want that feeling walking around town that you’ve disappointed people or you’re letting people down, especially a hard-working city like Buffalo,” he said. “I think to every man, we’ve accepted the challenge.

“…You’ve got five-and-a-half months here to get yourself ready for training camp and I expect training camp to be what training camp should be for a 30th-place team. It should be hard. It should be intense and again, I know Teddy is making sure every guy knows that – that we’re not joking around anymore.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82