Sabres' Eichel is done with his two-game suspension

The captain is just glad to be back

Paul Hamilton
March 15, 2019 - 2:58 pm

Photo: Kevin Hoffman - USA TODAY Sports

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - It certainly wasn’t easy for Jack Eichel to sit out two games after being suspended by the NHL. Eichel will be back in the lineup Saturday in Carolina and he said, “Whenever you miss a game hurt or suspended I think it’s tough to sit in the press box for sure.

“I want to be out there competing as much as you can, so it stinks not playing, but it’s good that it’s over.”

The Sabres have been shut out for three straight games, covering 197 minutes. Eichel has only played in one of those games, “We’ve had some chances and haven’t capitalized, so we just need to bear down on our opportunities.”

Sports can be mind games, especially when things aren’t going well. Eichel said when it comes to goal scoring, that can happen, “For some guys if it’s been awhile it’s just human nature that it starts creeping into your mind a bit and you start gripping your stick a little tight thinking about it, but I think just keep it simple and try to get pucks to the net and get bodies there it’s bound to go in.”

Jeff Skinner hasn’t scored a goal in 13 games. Eichel said he’s confident that he can help his left winger, “He’s had a lot of opportunities he hits a couple of crossbars the other night, he’s been around the net, he’s had his chances and when you’re not having chances is when you start to worry, so bear down and when you get opportunities, you’ve got to capitalize.”

The Sabres are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but the players are realistic to know where they stand. Eichel said they still need to go out and play the best they can until the season is over, “We just compete every game because we’re competitors. I think everyone has something to play for here and the season’s not over and this is about pride, this is about playing for the logo, playing for the guy next to you, I think that’s what’s most important.”

Zach Bogosian also believes that nobody in that room is packing it in, “We’re professional athletes, this is what we do and this is the passion that you have. Everyone plays for different reasons, but we have to stay motivated in here and I believe that guys want to win in here and when things aren’t going the way you’d like them to, it’s easy to point fingers, but we have to stay together as a group and go through it as a group.”

Jason Pominville has played in Buffalo and Minnesota. He said it’s pretty simple what needs to be done, “We have to have more pride to get to that area and get our nose dirty and you’ve got to pay a price to get to the net.

“To me it comes down to compete, pride and battle and right now it’s not there.”

There have been a lot of questions if Phil Housley’s game plan is good enough. Pominville said it absolutely is, “Oh yes, it has nothing to do with the game plan, I mean X’s and O’s will get you ideas of how you want to play, but it comes down to who wants it more and battling, to me that’s all it comes down to.”

Marco Scandella is still day-to-day and missed practice while Bogosian returned to practice. Scandella is on the trip to Raleigh.

 

Friday’s lines:

Skinner - Eichel - Reinhart

Sheary - Rodrigues - Nylander

Thompson - Mittelstadt - Pominville

Girgensons - Larsson - Okposo

Wilson - Sobotka

 

Hunwick - Ristolainen

Bogosian - Montour

Dahlin - Nelson

 

PP1: Skinner - Eichel - Reinhart / Mittelstadt - Dahlin

PP2: Sheary - Rodrigues - Okposo / Ristolainen - Montour

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