By Dave Ricci
Can Evander Kane put aside the outside distractions and focus on being the player the Sabres expected him to be?
Kane was the final player to come to the podium when players met with the media on Thursday morning at KeyBank Center.
While Kane was probably hoping he would answer hockey-only questions, he faced an even amount of questions related to his off-ice issues.
“We don’t have to talk about others things,” was Kane’s response when asked how disappointing is it that you have to talk about other things than hockey.
Though he did not duck any non-hockey related questions Kane clearly tried to get through each one as quickly as possible. Saying that he doesn’t feel like he blew his chance at a fresh start in Buffalo, Kane didn’t offer much in the way of answers when asked about how GM Tim Murray said that Evander needs to learn how to make better decisions.
“I’m not gonna say too much,” said Kane. “I’m here and I’m ready for camp and I’m looking forward to that process starting (Friday) getting on the ice with the guys.”
In 65 games last season, Kane had 20 goals, 15 assists and his 271 shots led the team.
“I’m just gonna take it one game at a time and, like I said, try to score as many goals as possible and try to help my team anyway I can,” said Kane.
Can Robin Lehner stay healthy and fully assume the role as No.1 goalie?
Lehner certainly has the skill to be a No.1 goalie, but can he remain healthy? Last season, the combination of an ankle injury and a concussion limited Lehner to 21 games where he posted a 5-9-6 record, 2.47 GAA and .924 save percentage.
Coming into the training camp in much better condition than in the past Lehner is confident that he can be the stabilizing force between the pipes that the Sabres need him to be if they hope to truly be a playoff contender.
Lehner said he hasn’t had a direct talk with head coach Dan Bylsma about not putting pressure on himself.
“Dan hasn’t said that and he has no need to,” said Lehner. “It’s a professional sport and he’s the coach. It’s a performance based sport, it doesn’t matter what kind of summer I had, I’ve got to go out and perform and that’s what I expect out of myself. That’s what I expect out of my teammates and that’s what they expect out of me.”
What kind of a team will the Sabres be?
On paper the Sabres look to be a skilled team that will be able to score and have depth at defense. While speed was talked about a lot on Day One the aspect of grit and team toughness was also touched on by defenseman Josh Gorges
“We want the other teams to say ‘they’re hard to play against,’” said Gorges.