Borgen relishing his opportunity with the Sabres

September 20, 2019 - 3:25 pm

Will Borgen seemed to improve every game in his first professional season. Borgen was a physical presence in Rochester and was a very good stay at home defenseman, Borgen credits his growth to one of the veterans, "I learned a lot, especially from the older guys. I played with [Andrew] MacWilliam last year and he helped me out a lot watching how they prepare for every game it's completely different than the college level."

Most college players talk about the physical and mental fatigue they experience from a longer season. Borgen was no different, "Yes, 100%. I think maybe games 50 through 60 like after a while you aren't used to it because I was used to playing 30-40 games. I knew it was different, so I followed their lead and they helped me get past that, so I think I'll be ready this year for it."

There is more of an opportunity on defense with injuries to Brandon Montour, Lawrence Pilut, Zach Bogosian and Matt Hunwick. Borgen is not afraid of competition, "There's a lot of good internal competition. There's a lot of good defensemen and I think it just helps everybody boast their game up."

College players in their first NHL training camps sometimes are surprised. This is Borgen's second camp and he knows what to expect, "I got a taste of it in the year past, so you know what's coming and you know what to expect, so nothing is a surprise."

When I called the Prospects Challenge, I noticed that Borgen did a lot more pinching and joining the play. He said, "They want us to play a little bit more aggressive this year like pinching and reading plays, not letting the other team get time and space and I'm just playing my game. I tried to learn last year with Gord Dineen and video, so I don't know if I've changed too much, but I'm trying to."

Ralph Krueger likes what he's seen so far from the youngster, "I've talked about the aggressive defense that we'd like to play and it doesn't mean always running over everybody wildly without any type of plan. It's structured kind of pressure on the other team and players like Will are really helpful to bring that into fruition here and I think we're way, way further ahead than I expected after two games in the commitment to play that game without the puck and you've picked a good example who gets that aggressive gap that we're looking for."

Borgen got a chance to play four games with the Sabres last season and for the first two, looked very good. That combined with 71 games in Rochester provided him with a solid first professional season.

Krueger said that Linus Ullmark will play more than the 29 minutes he played in Columbus, but it will be an in-game decision on if he goes the distance.

Join me and Brian Koziol for the pre-game starting at 6:45 when you'll hear my chat with Borgen in its entirety.

Friday's lineup:

Elie - Sobotka - Thompson

Smith - Mittelstadt - Okposo

Sheary - Cozens - Ruotsalainen

Dea - Porter - Lazar

The defensive pairs weren't evident in the morning skate. The six defensemen playing are McCabe, Jokiharju, Bryson, Borgen, Gilmour and Redmond. Hickey is the extra.

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