To those in the arena, and to Jack Eichel (ok, I’ll stop calling him Magic Hands), Tuesday night’s victory over the Kings was a Big Win. After the game, Eichel said that the win was big for the team, and he had a BIG part in the victory himself. He had two goals and an assist to lead the team to a 6-3 victory. His second goal was just spectacular. He sniped his shot from the slot off the left post, getting his second of the game.
Ryan O’Reilly made up for a mistake in the first period by sparking the Sabres’ rally in the second.
Ryan O’Reilly made a mistake early in the first period, stopping his feet and losing Anze Kopitar in the neutral zone. Kopitar scored as he went in one on one with Lehner, and O’Reilly vowed to make up for the mistake. He surely did later in the game. In the second with 11 minutes remaining, Jeff Carter scored on a breakaway to give LA a 2-0 lead. At this point it looked like we were in for a long night. Down 2-0 to a strong Kings team who was looking to end a seven game losing streak in Buffalo, a comeback seemed improbable. But then O’Reilly took over. Skating out from behind the net he circled in front of the net on his backhand and ripped a shot into the top shelf to spark the Sabres and cut the Kings’ lead in half. You could tell what a lift this gave to the team who up to that point looked a little flat. That goal turned the momentum around for the Sabes. They scored 3 more in the second, with 2 from Eichel, including his Super Snipe, to give the Sabres a 4-2 lead heading into the third. His 3rd point of the game came in the third when he found Evander Kane in front of the net and hit him from behind the net with a great pass. Eichel had a great game and was a big part of a big win.
Eichel had a great game and was a big part of a big win.
I still need to comment on the play of Robin Lehner. I don’t want to be nit picky, but I have to point out that two of the three goals he gave up were Mr. Softee style. On the first one, he stopped the initial shot on Kopitar but couldn’t keep it out of the net as it was lying in the crease, and on the third one, he was completely out of position after a face off. He was out of the net, not hugging the post and was down too low on his knees, too early. The shot that he let in on the third goal should never have gone in and he surely wants it back. The problem here is that we are not going to score 6 every night and his goals against average is creeping up towards 3.00- this is just too high for an everyday goalie. I don’t like his positioning and I don’t like him on breakaways/shootouts. I believe that the team plays better in front of Nilsson (this is solely my empirical opinion and not based on any stats). I think it is time to abandon the rotation of giving each guy a game every other game, and I think we should install Nilsson as the every day net minder. Give him a stretch of consistent games and see what he can do. It is time. The Sabres need to go on a run and win 4 or 5 games in a row. By changing goalies every night, it disrupts the momentum that strong goaltending builds. Give Nilsson a stretch of games and see how he responds.
Give Nilsson a stretch of games and see how he responds.
By the way, do any of the readers have any fun nicknames for Jack or any of the other players that they would like to submit? If so, please leave them in the comments.
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Sabres vs. Islanders, Friday December 16, 7:00 PM, MSG+, WGR550