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The difference between losing streak Sabres & non IS Ullmark


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For those hyping the coaching change or Reinhart moving to C as the thing making this team "different" than the losing streak version, none of those changes nor moving Mittelstadt to 2C over Staal are the driver of the change.

The PK still essentially gives up a goal/ game & the PP has been MIA since a battling through injuries Eichel finally got shelved.  Skinner still toils far removed from the top 6.  All things that were viewed by many as wrong about the club while Krueger was the coach and haven't changed since.

Not saying those other items AND the tremendously belated removal of Steve Smith hasn't helped, but the change in fortunes is due to Ullmark returning and the psychological lift of FINALLY getting the monkey off their backs in their 3rd attempt with him in the lineup.

Prior to Linus going down the Sabres record through the game they lost in OT vs Joisey the night Ullmark broke: 6-8-3.

Sabres record with Linus on IR: 0-14-1.

Sabres record since Ullmark returned: 2-1-2.  And that's without Eichel, McCabe, & Borgen for all those games and Cozens in most of them & Mittelstadt as their #2 C in most of them (ever since Staal turned into draft picks & 1/2 his salary).

They've had a lead in every game since Linus came back and even had the lead when the puck dropped to start the 3rd in the regulation loss to Baahstan & horrific Phlyers game collapse.  

They went 0-5-1 to start the (hopefully short lived) Granato era.  Their 2 wins & 2 loser point games came against the "surging" but still bad Rags & the inexplicably currently bad Phlyers whose goaltending is an even hotter mess than the Ullmark-less Sabres goaltending was.  (AKA Teams this club likely would've taken those points from prior to Linus breaking.)

Am expecting them to play ~0.500 hockey the rest of the way (NHL or DeLuca version, not sure which, probably DeLuca) even after Hall goes because that's what they were prior to Eichel's injury that finally shut him down & Ullmark's injury & the adrenaline pump of call ups for guys like Fogarty will make up for much of the talent disparity between the tweeners & the NHLers to inevitably get shipped out.  (Counting on that "undrafted NCAAer looking real the last 15 games of the year" effect to hold true.)  Shipping out every UFA skater may make that prediction too optimistic, but don't see them shipping out every single one of them.  And should Montour go, that will be a big loss.  Hopefully Borgen can come back to lessen that blow.

The D does seem a little better since Ullmark came back.  Hoping some of that is due to no Smith, but a ton of it is not having to worry about EVERY minor mistake ending up in the net & also not getting out of position trying to prevent every potential slot shot thus resulting in additional ones courtesy of rebounds & guys moving to now vacated territory that normally wouldn't be vacated.

At least they're enjoyable to watch again.

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The problem is that Ullmark gets hurt for long stretches every year so we can't really rely on him and we have AHL level goaltending behind him.  They need to upgrade this badly in the offseason.

 

I think Ullmark is turning into a really solid goalie and we can win with him as the #1.  He also is the best shootout goalie in NHL history by save percentage(0.868) for any goalie with more than 10 shootouts.

Edited by matter2003
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This is pretty much why I think we need a real coaching search and to bring in someone over Granato. He has really just opened up the offense and gotten a legit starting goalie back. I think Ullmark is a major reason for the turnaround and don't want to overvalue Granato as head coach. 

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The ugly thing is, that everyone on this forum wrote before the season, that with Hutton as backup for Ullmark we won‘t qualify for the playoffs. Only management has to take responsibility for this mess.

 

They mishandled the goalie situation and fired Krueger far too late.

 

It is such a shame!

 

And when I think about that Ullmark is a UFA after the season, my head nearly explodes.

Edited by LaLaLaFontaine
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Welcome back @Taro T.  Easter Blessings to you and your family.

I agree that the key player in all this is Ullie, but others seem to have stepped up too.  I think that reflects on the slightly different coaching approach.  The team as a whole really looks to be playing harder, faster and with passion.

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It's not just Ullmark.  He is a big part of this and his injury history and the compressed season made getting a good backup a priority in the off-season.  His return certainly added confidence to the room.  However guys like Thompson, Mitts, Dahlin, Jokiharju, KO plus the addition of Bryson have really stepped up despite being without Jack (our best forward), McCabe (our best D) and Cozens.

This team is far from good, but they are playing competitive hockey now and that is a huge improvement.

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1 hour ago, Curt said:

Did we need a whole thread to say that Ullmark is a lot better than Hutton/Johansson?

Well, I believe the point is, that you can’t say it’s the coaching change that is making the difference. Or Samson moving to center.

Our goaltending was THE problem. 

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1 hour ago, Curt said:

Did we need a whole thread to say that Ullmark is a lot better than Hutton/Johansson?

Yes.

*Taro says* ... so, yes.

It's a good way to put all the discussion about the good recent play in one place.

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35 minutes ago, LGR4GM said:

This is pretty much why I think we need a real coaching search and to bring in someone over Granato. He has really just opened up the offense and gotten a legit starting goalie back. I think Ullmark is a major reason for the turnaround and don't want to overvalue Granato as head coach. 

Without question there still should be a coaching search. But if for the rest of the season this team plays exponentially better than under the former coach then why shouldn't Granato get credit for this team's transformation? In short order he has taken over a  roster that has played as if it is shackled and now has them playing as if they have been liberated. That metamorphosis certainly should be attributed to the coaching change. Mitts, Thompson, Joki, Dahlin, Okposo and Montour certainly are playing better under the Granato approach compared to the recently dispatched over-thinking coach. From what I have observed since the coaching change Montour (followed by Dahlin) more than any other player has benefited from the coaching change. Both his offense and defensive games have been elevated. It's a shame that he came to this team only to have his impressive skating talents stifled instead of smartly utilized. And because of his misuse this UFA will probably will be dealt.  

This organization has gone through constant turmoil and staffing change since the Pegulas took over. If this current coach continues to demonstrate that he can maximize the talents of the players he has during his coaching audition then why wouldn't you want to keep him? 

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I said long before this season began that the easiest way to make this team better, immediately, for 2021, was to improve the goaltending.

That remains true going forward to 2022.

Having said that, I'm not sure goaltending is solely the difference.  

Our "run support" was atrocious during the streak and if you aren't going to score, unless you have Dom in his prime keeping the other team to ZERO, you aren't going to win a lot of games.

 

 

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15 minutes ago, Kruppstahl said:

I said long before this season began that the easiest way to make this team better, immediately, for 2021, was to improve the goaltending.

That remains true going forward to 2022.

 

 

 

Totally agree. 

If we lose Linus, god help us. 

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39 minutes ago, JohnC said:

Without question there still should be a coaching search. But if for the rest of the season this team plays exponentially better than under the former coach then why shouldn't Granato get credit for this team's transformation? In short order he has taken over a  roster that has played as if it is shackled and now has them playing as if they have been liberated. That metamorphosis certainly should be attributed to the coaching change. Mitts, Thompson, Joki, Dahlin, Okposo and Montour certainly are playing better under the Granato approach compared to the recently dispatched over-thinking coach. From what I have observed since the coaching change Montour (followed by Dahlin) more than any other player has benefited from the coaching change. Both his offense and defensive games have been elevated. It's a shame that he came to this team only to have his impressive skating talents stifled instead of smartly utilized. And because of his misuse this UFA will probably will be dealt.  

This organization has gone through constant turmoil and staffing change since the Pegulas took over. If this current coach continues to demonstrate that he can maximize the talents of the players he has during his coaching audition then why wouldn't you want to keep him? 

A monkey with an accordion could get this team to play better than the shutdown no offense bore fest that was Krueger Style. 

Edited by LGR4GM
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32 minutes ago, JohnC said:

This organization has gone through constant turmoil and staffing change since the Pegulas took over. If this current coach continues to demonstrate that he can maximize the talents of the players he has during his coaching audition then why wouldn't you want to keep him? 

Because it is a mirage. Get an experienced coach in here. It is a mirage because the old coach was fired and the team lost 18 games and now there is no pressure and guys can do whatever they want. Just like when ppl say "well that player won't do well once games get tighter and mean something" I don't want a limited coach who hasn't coached those games. Hell at least Leaman has been a coach for 20 years and in high pressure situations. 

This fan base has been so abused by this team that any mild ray of "not that terrible" is met with "THAT'S THE SOLUTION!" 

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2 hours ago, NJhopelessSabresfan66 said:

Yes, and no.... the team in front of him is playing a ton different under Granato. He deserves some credit. Better minder helps and i like Linus, but this is a team improvement mostly and it shows.

I want to echo this and add some. 

After Hutton went down, Tokarski stepped in. He played lights out, but the team was still hanging the goalie out to dry, but was coming around. I don't know if it's Ullmarks locker room, bench or ice presence but the team has partially benefited from his return. 

The team as a whole has been playing better in front of their goalie, as seen the first Ranger game. Tokarski stood on his head again just to lose, albeit by a less of a score, in OT. Tokarski, like Hutton was losing by wide margins. 

I think the team is benefiting from the new coach and consistent goaltending, which Tokarski is beginning to show and what we know Ullmark is capable of. 

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Of course Ulmark has made a huge difference but its obvious that the players have had the shackles removed just by watching the games. Of course they still struggle during games, they still come up against better teams. All of the other teams in their division haven’t changed , the Sabres have. They’re playing looser and with confidence and having fun. Watch the interviews after the games. Granato has made a world of difference but the team still has warts that need to be addressed. But to take any of the positive changes by the players and the coach and give all credit to Ulmark is ignoring the contributions and hard work of the rest of the guys. Anyone see RKs practices ? From all reports its been a seachange back to the way a practice should run and that has carried over as well. Is Ulmark running practice ? Don’t think so. Anyhow. This team needs an experienced coach but I’m sure even the big guy in net would tell you he appreciates the play of his team mates and the goal support he’s receiving. Bring back some of the injured players and they’ll look even better. But make the changes to improve this roster and get better just like every other team does. Status quo ain’t gonna cut it.

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I disagree. 

The losing streak = No Ullmark + Krueger + Sabres normal center spine.
Turnaround = Ullmark + Granato - Sabres normal center spine.

In other words, if Krueger was still the coach, he wouldn't have been able to adjust to losing Eichel, Lazar & Cozens.  Or if Granato had replaced Krueger and Ullmark was still out, the Sabres would still be struggling to win.  It is *both* Ullmark *and* Granato that have helped the Sabres turn the corner, in the absence of the starting centers.

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There is a simple way to judge if they are better.  Just look at even strength goals.   Under RK were were averaging about 1.19 5 on 5 goals. In the last 5 games they have scored 13 5 on 5 goals. That’s 2.5 5 on 5 goals per game.  That’s a different hockey team. 

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6 minutes ago, bunomatic said:

Of course Ulmark has made a huge difference but its obvious that the players have had the shackles removed just by watching the games. Of course they still struggle during games, they still come up against better teams. All of the other teams in their division haven’t changed , the Sabres have. They’re playing looser and with confidence and having fun. Watch the interviews after the games. Granato has made a world of difference but the team still has warts that need to be addressed. But to take any of the positive changes by the players and the coach and give all credit to Ulmark is ignoring the contributions and hard work of the rest of the guys. Anyone see RKs practices ? From all reports its been a seachange back to the way a practice should run and that has carried over as well. Is Ulmark running practice ? Don’t think so. Anyhow. This team needs an experienced coach but I’m sure even the big guy in net would tell you he appreciates the play of his team mates and the goal support he’s receiving. Bring back some of the injured players and they’ll look even better. But make the changes to improve this roster and get better just like every other team does. Status quo ain’t gonna cut it.

As stated in the OP, those other things have had an effect, but they are ALL dwarfed by the Ullmark effect.

If the coaching really was that huge of a differentiator, then why is the item most dictated by coaching: the PP STILL a dumpster fire?  Yes, Eichel is out, but that still leaves a lot of talent to at least OCCASSIONALLY score.  The PK is essentially as bad with Ullmark in as it was prior.  That is also on coaching.

And this team's losing streak stretched from 12 games to 18 (and only avoided hitting 19 by skipping a game against the Bruins) under Granato's tenure.  (In fairness to Granato, Adams was the benchboss for 1 of those Pittsburgh embarrassments.) The Sabres either look great against the Phlyers for at least 40 minutes or are crud against them from the get go regardless of which man is behind the bench.

Rolston is arguably the absolute worst coach in team history but his installation resulted in positive results compared to arguably the best coach in team history because the team simply needed A change.  There is far more likelihood that Granato will turn out to be a Rolston quality coach than a Tortorella quality coach.

IMHO, their looking like a hockey team again stems far more from having Ullmark back making big saves long enough for them not to be trailing & already defeated than it does in Granato.

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

There is a simple way to judge if they are better.  Just look at even strength goals.   Under RK were were averaging about 1.19 5 on 5 goals. In the last 5 games they have scored 13 5 on 5 goals. That’s 2.5 5 on 5 goals per game.  That’s a different hockey team. 

And 7 of those 12 5v5 goals came in 2 games against the Phlyers.  (That same Phlyers squad that gave up a 9 spot a week or so earlier).  5 in the other 3 is 1.67 GPG.  Which looks vaguely similar to the same hockey team.  (The 1st gift Baahstan goal was technically a PP goal, though it was far from typical.)

And, btw, Krueger has been gone for 9 games, not 4.

Edited by Taro T
corrected the math
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4 minutes ago, Taro T said:

And 7 of those 5v5 goals came in 2 games against the Phlyers.  (That same Phlyers squad that gave up a 9 spot a week or so earlier).  6 in the other 4 is 1.5 GPG.  Which looks vaguely similar to the same hockey team.

And, btw, Krueger has been gone for 9 games, not 4.

I was looking at the last 5 since Granato returned from Covid and got his feet under him.  They have scored 2 or more even goals in each of those 5 games.  

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1 hour ago, LGR4GM said:

Because it is a mirage. Get an experienced coach in here. It is a mirage because the old coach was fired and the team lost 18 games and now there is no pressure and guys can do whatever they want. Just like when ppl say "well that player won't do well once games get tighter and mean something" I don't want a limited coach who hasn't coached those games. Hell at least Leaman has been a coach for 20 years and in high pressure situations. 

This fan base has been so abused by this team that any mild ray of "not that terrible" is met with "THAT'S THE SOLUTION!" 

There are still plenty of games left in this meaningless season. I'm willing to see how this season plays before prematurely making a decision to exclude anyone. I agree with you that this fan base has been abused with the innumerable blunders that this organization has made. The advantage that this front office has is that it can see how this current interim coach performs with this current cast of players. You may be willing to summarily dismiss him but I don't. 

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