Pysyk adds a calming presence to the Saber Defense Corps
Don Granato turned to Marc Pysyk to play a high role with the Sabers’ defense that needs a deep breath against the Washington Capitals on Monday.
Pysyk moved up to a defensive pair with Rasmus Dahlin and skated 10:15 p.m., her highest ice time in a single game since February 2019.
“He’s a real stabilizing personality,” said Granato. “He’s been in the league for a long time and his game is calm. I think it was a bonus for us then to have a little more calm.”
The results have been positive. The Sabers held an 18-6 lead in shooting attempts and outscored the Capitals 1-0 with Dahlin and Pysyk sharing the ice 5-5. The pair stayed together when the team returned to KeyBank Center. to train on Tuesday.
Video: AFTER PRACTICE: Pysyk
Pysyk signed a one-year contract to return to the Sabers on day one of free play, with a goal of recovering as a defenseman after two seasons at the front. He has asserted himself as a leader on the Sabers in the process, mentioned by Granato and general manager Kevyn Adams alongside the assistant captains Zemgus Girgenson and Kyle Okposo and goalkeeper Craig anderson as a guide for veterans in a young locker room.
Granato said that Pysyk has a “zest for life” that positively affects those around him. Now 29 and back in the city where his career began nine years ago, Pysyk has said he just tries to enjoy every moment at the rink and encourages others to do the same.
“It’s gone pretty quickly over the past few years,” he said. “You never know when this might be your last day in the NHL, so come on in, have a good time. Whether winning or losing, try to make every day leave the rink as if you were having fun here. I think that’s how I did it for the most part. “
His optimistic outlook is offset by an appetite to continue growing, fueled in part by Granato. The Sabers coach said he watched a Pysyk movie in the offseason and marked areas where he could improve. He challenged the defender at the start of training camp.
“For me, it was ‘I think there’s a little more to your game, with the puck, playing with it, instead of just chipping it and making the game safe, maybe s’ hang in and hit attackers in a better place, ”Pysyk recalls. “Just things like that.
“He just wants everyone to play with confidence. That’s kind of his message every day. We had conversations throughout the first part of the year and the message was consistent, the same. . He wants everyone in the room to understand that he’s improved with every game, every practice, and he’s done a great job of building that confidence in everyone. “
Video: AFTER THE PRACTICE: Granato
Pysyk’s average ice time of 6:20 pm is his highest score since 2017-18, when he played in Florida’s 82 games. The Sabers have a 52.05 percent share of shooting attempts with Pysyk on the ice 5-5 this season, second among the team’s defensemen behind fellow veteran Colin Miller.
“He wants more in his career,” said Granato. “He came here with experience, but he’s really focused on ‘How can I get better?’ And I challenged him that way from day one. “
Victor Olofsson has been sidelined with injury and is not scheduled to play against Edmonton on Friday, Granato announced. Olofsson has missed four games since being injured during training in San Jose on November 1. It is still seen on a day-to-day basis.
“This is basically an area that is on fire and we are waiting for that to resolve,” said Granato. “It hinders what he can do, what he can bring to the game.”
Craig Anderson was also left out with an upper body injury. The goalkeeper is on a day-to-day basis, but he shouldn’t be in the team’s home games on Friday or Saturday.
Will Boucher trained after being scratched for Buffalo’s game against Washington on Monday. Granato said the defender suffered from a nagging illness before the day off. He practiced on a pair of defense with Robert hagg and is expected to play on Friday.
Here is how the group lined up as a whole.