Sabres' Lehner said he would never call out a teammate
Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) -- Robin Lehner is one of those athletes that’s honest in his answers. After a tough 4-2 loss to Vancouver on Sunday, Lehner was very angry as he spoke on our postgame show. He talked about how players try to get fancy instead of making the easy play. He talked about how after one win, they act like they’re the Chicago Blackhawks. Some people took his comments as being critical of Jack Eichel. Lehner said that couldn’t be further from the truth, “What I said yesterday was to be aimed at us as a group starting with myself all the way through the lineup. We’ve got to take more responsibility. It’s not certain lines, it’s not certain people, it’s literally all of us on a day-to-day basis.”
“I didn’t name anyone, I said we. It’s not about Jack’s line, it’s not about me, it’s not about Ristolainen, it’s about all of us as a team, it’s about doing the small things. It’s about me making an extra save, Jack is our best player, end of story. When he’s going, we’re all going, but when he’s not going, we’ve got to have other guys going. We’ve got to help each other out, if he makes a mistake or I make a mistake, we’ve got to bail each other out and I would never put anyone in the spotlight, that’s never what I said, and at the end of the day, it was a team loss, it wasn’t a line loss, it wasn’t an individual loss.”
When it comes to what was wrong Lehner said, “I think we were all flat and that was from everyone.”
Brian Gionta has won a Stanley Cup so he knows what it takes to be a winner. The captain said, “It’s looking at yourself and what you contribute to the problem or the solution. It’s on each one of us to be better as individuals and bring what we can to the team and it’s not blaming outside sources, it’s not blaming the guy next to you, it’s looking in the mirror.”
Gionta was very firm in saying that Bylsma's system isn’t a problem. The captain said, “No, systems don’t matter one bit, there’s very subtle differences between systems. There’s maybe two types of forechecks, there’s maybe a couple different ways to play D-zone, it’s a matter of doing it as a group, not having one guy to one thing and two other guys doing a different thing.”
“Teams that make the playoffs year in and year out it’s not because of their system, it’s because of how they play within that system.”
Dan Bylsma thinks systems are overblown, “You’d be real shocked at how similar the systems are from team to team. There are some variances and there are different ways to play D-zone coverage and really the difference is in the mentality of how you bring it and how you execute within that system and that makes it the variances of the system.”
Bylsma said it’s more about the opportunities that they haven’t taken advantage of, “As a team we’ve had opportunities at different times this year in big games to get back in the race and it’s disappointing to see that in almost every one of those situations, we haven’t risen to the occasion and that’s the challenge and growth of our team.”
Some coaches want their players to be very vanilla when they speak to the media. Bylsma said that what was said after the Canucks game did not bother him, “I think that’s part of your leadership group, us getting to where we want to go and be the team that we want to be is not going to be an easy process and I don’t mind our leaders voicing that, but it’s also got to be meaningful, so I don’t have a big issue with the voices coming out.”
Josh Gorges is never afraid to give his opinion as one of the team leaders. The defenseman said, “I think if anything it’s guys speaking the truth about what’s going on in the situation we’re in and how it shouldn’t be acceptable, it’s not acceptable and there’s nothing wrong with calling a spade a spade.”
“Until we decide as a group that we’re going to play a certain way, one through four lines and six D and our goalies are all going to do the same thing, that’s when we’ll have continued success,” Gorges said. “I don’t think anybody is sitting in the room pointing fingers at the next guy saying it’s your fault not mine, we’re all saying collectively that it’s all of us.”
“Sometimes you want to do so much, you know you try so hard and you want to be the guy that makes the difference, you want to be the guy to go out there and get the job done and sometimes it’s too much and its not to say that we don’t care, it’s such a willingness to want to go out there and do things, you get away from what we’re doing as a group.”
So here we are in February and the Sabres are five points in back of Toronto and Philadelphia for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. To get there they still have to leap over the Islanders, Florida, Tampa Bay, and New Jersey. They also have to hold off Carolina and Detroit. Gorges thinks it can be done, “I still believe in this group. I still believe that this is a playoff team. We’ve played against the top teams in the league and we always play well. There’s lots of hockey left to be played, I believe this team has the ability to go out and get the job done.”
Dan Bylsma said he spoke to Zach Bogosian and the medical staff and decided to take him on the trip to Ottawa. Bogosian took part in Monday’s optional skate and said feels well enough to play on Tuesday.
Bylsma said Will Carrier is still resting his knee and Zemgus Girgensons will be updated on Wednesday.