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NHL Notebook: Bowen Byram making early, signifcant impact on Buffalo Sabres and Red Wings’ Lucas Raymond and Ben Chairot spar in practice

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Photo credit:twitter.com/JeannaTrotmanTV
Zach Laing
3 months ago
An early trade deadline winner is far and away the Buffalo Sabres.
They traded away Kyle Okposo to go chase a Stanley Cup in Flordia, and flipped defenceman Erik Johnson to the Philadelphia Flyers. Small moves, sure, but it was the deal that proceeded these that blew the doors off, as on the Wednesday prior to the deadline, they traded centre Casey Mittelstadt to the Colorado Avalanche for defenceman Bowen Byram.
One for one.
All Byram has done in the last week is blow the doors off in Buffalo. He’s appeared in just three games, but has already racked up three goals and four points, while helping the Sabres go 2-1.
And as Daily Faceoff’s Mike Gould writes, the Sabres could be making a sneaky push for the playoffs:
Back on Feb. 28, the Buffalo Sabres were sitting a full 14 points back of the Detroit Red Wings in the Eastern Conference playoff race. With many of their key players struggling to produce (and their defense looking a bit leaky), the Sabres appeared destined to miss the playoffs for a 13th consecutive season.
Well, not so fast. The Sabres have won back-to-back games, including a 7-3 stunner on Tuesday over those very same Red Wings, to crawl within five points of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
The player at the forefront of their recent push is none other than Bowen Byram, who arrived in Buffalo just last week in a completely unexpected one-for-one swap with the Colorado Avalanche that saw Casey Mittelstadt the other way.
But the Sabres’ side of the deal didn’t quite compute right away. Byram is a skilled young defenseman who played a huge role in the Avalanche winning the Stanley Cup in 2022, but he’s dealt with significant health problems during his young career and, curiously, is yet another left-handed defender on a Sabres team stocked with them.
Between Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Power, Mattias Samuelsson, and Byram, the Sabres are completely flush with intriguing options who can play the left side, but they’re concerningly low on right-handed options — even if one of Dahlin and Power slides over.
Sabres head coach Don Granato seems to have solved that problem in a big way. There’s a new top pairing in Buffalo, with Byram on the left and Dahlin on the right. And the early returns of their partnership have been nothing less than terrific.
Byram became the first defenseman in Sabres history to score three goals in his first three games with the team when he tallied twice in Tuesday’s blowout win over the Red Wings. But his dominance extended far beyond what went on the board.

Trouble in Paradise?

As the Sabres inchworm up towards the Eastern Conference Wild Card picture, the Detroit Red Wings are in a near free fall dropping six straight games.
It’s not like they’ve been close, either, losing by as few as two goals in each game, and as many as five. It doesn’t help that captain Dylan Larkin has been out for the last four, which have been particularly bad seeing Detroit outscored 23-8.
And on Wednesday, tensions boiled over in practice.
While the Red Wings were running some drills in practice, WXYZ-TV reported Jeanna Trotman caught the tail end of a skirmish between winger Lucas Raymond and defenceman Ben Chairot. No gloves were dropped, nor were punches thrown, but even after Raymond’s helmet was knocked off and players got back into position, the jawing between the two continued.
After practice, Red Wings winger Patrick Kane opined the scuffle showed they care.
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” Kane said, via Detroit Hockey Now’s Bob Duff. “I’d be more worried if we were walking around here all smiles, happy and everything’s okay. I think it’s good to get a little frustrated as long as you harness it in the right way.
“Frustration can create a lot of positive energy as well, whether it’s practicicing like you play, or just playing harder tomorrow.”
Scuffles in practice aren’t exactly uncommon, especially when tensions boil over, it’s just rare that the camera picks up the action this way.
And it’s not the first time there’s been a uh… scuffle in a Red Wings practice. Back during the 1993-94 season, Bob Probert and Keith dropped the gloves throwing some serious punches, while 20 years later, it was Tyler Bertuzzi and Nick Jensen fighting.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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