NEW YORK — The Buffalo Sabres are at the bottom of the NHL's East Division, and postseason chances are already looking bleak, just a month and a half into the season.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Sabres are 10 points back from a divisional playoff spot. The top four of the eight teams in the East will make the postseason.
Heading into the first of four games in six days against the New York Rangers, Sabres Coach Ralph Krueger told 2 On Your Side's Julianne Pelusi, the team needs to regain respect in the division.
"It's just game-by-game here we need to we need to grind ourselves back into the group," Krueger said after Tuesday's morning skate.
"You gain respect, not only with results but you gain respect by being hard to play against, and I feel we've lost some of that ability... There were really good stretches last season and early in the season where I felt we were difficult to play against we really defended as a pack. And somehow, since the COVID break we we've had difficulty getting into that space."
The Sabres have lost three games in a row, and eight of their last 10. The team's lack of offense was on full display this weekend, with Buffalo losing back-to-back games, both 3-0, to Philadelphia.
"Although everybody will speak about our five-on-five scoring and our lack of offense, I believe it comes out of us playing more connected defensively and automatically our offense will have support and be more lethal," Krueger said.
The Sabres coach said he hopes playing on the road, where Buffalo has had more success this season than at home, will help energize the team. It will be the first game the Sabres will play in front of fans this season.
"It's gonna be pretty cool to finally play in front of some fans and obviously it's not too many but still it's something that's progress... We're excited to go out and play in front of some people again," forward Dylan Cozens said, ahead of playing in front of fans for the first time of his career.
Cozens will return to the Sabres lineup Tuesday night after sitting out Sunday against the Flyers.
The Sabres will stay in New York for three games against the Islanders Thursday, Saturday and Sunday before a trip to Philadelphia on Tuesday.