Former Sabre O'Reilly faces his old team for the first time

Former Blues goalie Carter Hutton will face his former teammates in goal

Paul Hamilton
December 27, 2018 - 3:05 pm

Photo: Jeff Curry - USA TODAY Sports

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St. Louis, MO (WGR 550) - Before the Christmas break started on Saturday, the Sabres got a big 3-0 win over Anaheim while Ryan O’Reilly and St. Louis won in Calgary, 3-1.

The former Sabre leads the Blues in scoring with 32 points in 34 games. That would give O’Reilly a career-high 77 points. O’Reilly has slumped lately with just one goal in 12 games and four points in nine.

Last April, O’Reilly said that he didn’t want to be traded and wanted to remain a Sabre. Now, he said he is not bitter that it happened, “It comes with the job, I think after that season you expect that changes are going to happen and half the time, you want to be there and be part of the solution, but I’m not upset with the way things happened.

“I like it here. Being in a different conference and being with this group, I really like them and I think we can do great things here and I still wish Buffalo the best, just not tonight.”

Overall, O’Reilly’s team is tied for last in the Central Division, five points in back of Minnesota. The Blues have been a little better with four wins in six games. O’Reilly faced his former team when Buffalo played Colorado, but he said, “It’s always weird. I have a lot of good buddies over there so it’s always weird playing against them, but at the end of the day, it’s two points that we need.”

Buffalo has 15 more points than St. Louis and the Blues have played three fewer games. O’Reilly is not surprised by Buffalo’s success, “Not really, you like all the talent they have and some of the pieces they’ve added, they’ve deserved it. Watching a few of the games they’ve been playing good hockey and obviously I have a lot of good friends over there, so it’s nice to see.”

O’Reilly has never played against Jack Eichel, and his former teammate thinks he’s even better, “I’ve watched the video and seeing what he’s done this year, he’s one of the best players in the league and it’s never easy.

“With his speed and the way he protects the puck with his reach, there won’t be an easy shift and we’ve all talked about him, he’s a guy that you have to be hard on.

In the end, there wasn’t a lot of winning in Buffalo while O’Reilly was there. Despite that, he still enjoyed his time here, “It was a good experience, I think it’s a great town and a good place to play hockey. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the results that we wanted there, but it was a great experience.

“I didn’t know much about it coming over and I was really shocked at how great it was and I really had a great experience there.”

O’Reilly’s final two seasons in Colorado produced 90 points and 112 points, but he had three miserable seasons in Buffalo and now is having one in St. Louis. O’Reilly doesn’t think luck plays into it and he needs to do more, “I don’t think it’s luck, I think I have to be better. I’m a guy that plays big minutes (20:30) and I directly have a big impact on that and I have to be a big piece of this and find new ways to grow my game and help turn this thing around.”

In every stop, O’Reilly has upped his numbers. With the Avalanche, he averaged 17 goals and 30 assists for 47 points in six season. In his three years in Buffalo, the centermen averaged 24 goals and 41 assists for 65 points. With the Blues, he’s averaging 31 goals and 46 assists for 77 points. Over 685 career games, O’Reilly has averaged 20 goals and 34 assists for 54 points.

Former Blues goalie Carter Hutton gets the call in goal. Hutton has only won one of his last six games. In his last three games, he’s given up nine goals losing all three games. Hutton has also never beaten St. Louis in six games.

Jason Pominville didn’t make the trip and is still day-to-day. Nate Beaulieu and Matt Hunwick will be the other two scratches.

Buffalo is 1-7-2 in its last 10 games versus St. Louis and 1-5-4 in this building.

If you flip that coin, St. Louis is 11-1-0 in its last 12 against the Sabres.

 

Thursday’s lines:

Skinner - Eichel - Reinhart

Elie - Mittelstadt - Okposo

Sheary - Sobotka - Rodrigues

Girgensons - Larsson - Thompson

 

Pilut - Ristolainen

Scandella - Bogosian

McCabe - Dahlin

 

Join Brian Koziol for the pre-game starting at 7:00 when he’ll be joined by Ryan O’Reilly, Carter Hutton and, of course, head coach Phil Housley.

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