Sabres' Eichel still not quite ready to play

Reinhart said he feels like his normal self and would like to play against the Devils

Paul Hamilton
January 08, 2019 - 12:49 pm

Photo: Matt Kartozian - USA TODAY Sports

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Jack Eichel worked with Scott Wilson, Nate Beaulieu and Matt Hunwick after practice. That means he’ll sit out the game on Tuesday. That gives the captain two more days of practice before the next game on Friday in Carolina.

Sam Reinhart participated in the morning skate and is over his sickness that caused him to miss two days of practice. Reinhart didn’t stay out for extra work and said, “The good news is I feel really good today and back to my normal self and I’m excited about the possibility of getting into the game tonight.”

During the morning skate, Reinhart worked into the first power play with Tage Thompson.

Carter Hutton gets back in goal after two straight starts by Linus Ullmark. Both goalies want to play, but Hutton was not mad because Ullmark played, “He’s played well all year, I think we both have truthfully and I think sometimes this competition gets created from the outside. I think internally we’re just happy to have two good goalies and I think in this league you need that.”

I get to see Ullmark and Hutton interact during practices and in the room and they have a good relationship. Hutton agreed, “The outside creates this almost like friction that’s not there. Honestly, we support each other. We’re in this for the long haul because the ultimate goal here is to try to win.

“Internally pushing each other, but being supportive of each other I think brings the best out of each other. There’s no friction at all, he’s a great kid and I get along pretty well with him and odds are we’re going to be together for a while.”

The Sabres don’t score goals for Hutton, and he’s had a couple of slips along the way too, going 1-6-2 in his last nine starts. In his last start, he lost 2-1 to the Islanders while making 30 saves.

Zemgus Girgensons returns to the lineup after missing four games due to injury.

Since their 10-game winning streak, the Sabres have gone 5-8-4. That has dropped them to 13th in points percentage at .595.

The Sabres are fourth in the Atlantic Division, two points behind Boston and six in back of Toronto. Buffalo leads Montreal by one point, and the Canadiens are the team on the outside looking in.

Tonight, Montreal is in Detroit, Boston hosts Minnesota and the Islanders are home against Carolina.

The Sabres are fifth in league penalty killing at 83.6-percent. Buffalo has killed off 36 of its last 39 penalties. On the other side, New Jersey is second in the NHL at 85.2-percent. The Devils have killed off 24-of-25 penalties.

The Devils have been without Taylor Hall for six games. New Jersey is 1-2-0 as they wrap up a four-game road trip. Overall, the Devils have won four out of six games, but are seventh in the Metropolitan Division, 11 points out of a playoff spot.

With Cory Schneider hurt, Mackenzie Blackwood came up and played some great hockey, but Blackwood got hurt and Keith Kinkaid played the last two games giving up five goals. Kinkaid is perfect against Buffalo, going 3-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against and .964 save percentage. Overall, he’s 13-11-6 with a 3.00 goals-against and .900 save percentage.

In their last six games in Buffalo, the Devils are 6-0-0, and are 10-1-1 in their last 12 overall. If you flip it, the Sabres are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games versus New Jersey.

After practice, Scott Wilson was waived by the Sabres. As of now, Wilson doesn’t count against the NHL roster, but he’s going to be ready in about a week and then he would. My guess is they feel pretty confident that Wilson won’t be claimed and then he’ll go to Rochester.

Join Schopp and the Bulldog at 6:00 for the pre-game live from (716) Food and Sport when they’ll have Phil Housley, Carter Hutton, Zemgus Girgensons and Sam Reinhart.

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