The Sabres know they can't win with just four guys scoring

Phil Housley said they must get contributions throughout the lineup

Paul Hamilton
November 02, 2018 - 2:57 pm

Photo: Marc DesRosiers - USA TODAY Sports


Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Recently, the Sabres have only gotten offense from four of their forwards. Jeff Skinner has seven goals and six assists for 13 points in nine games, Jack Eichel has eight assists and nine points in six games, Jason Pominville has five goals and five assists for 10 points in six games and Kyle Okposo has three goals and four points in five games.

Eichel has been contributing offensively, but not with goals. The captain has only one goal in 10 games.

It was thought that Jason Botterill made enough changes to get some contributions from his bottom six, but he has 10 forwards that he’s getting absolutely nothing from. Here’s what those ten have produced,

  • Patrick Berglund has one goal and one assist in 12 games.
  • Vladimir Sobotka has one goal and no assists in 10 games.
  • Johan Larsson has no goals and one assist in seven games
  • Sam Reinhart has one goal in 13 games
  • Zemgus Girgensons hasn’t scored in any of his 13 games.
  • Casey Mittelstadt has one goal and two assists in 13 games.
  • Conor Sheary has three goals, but none in his last eight.
  • Evan Rodrigues hasn’t scored in 10 games.
  • Tage Thompson has no goals and one assist in nine games.
  • Remi Elie has no points in his four games played.

The only way this team can keep pace is if some of these guys start getting on the board. “You look at two of the goals we scored last night, they’re right in front of the net,” Housley said. “I think that’s one thing that they can learn that hey, it might not be pretty, it might be just going to the net, it might hit you, it might go off your shin pad, you might get a second opportunity and once we made a decision and we played the right way, we’ve had to address it before so we’re going to focus on it here and that’s one way they can start contributing in the goal area.

“We obviously need more balance throughout our lineup because we’re not going to be able to rely on one line for 82 games.”

Mittelstadt knows he needs to produce, but he also feels that he gets better every game. The centermen said, “I don’t know if I’d use the word pressure, I’ve always been really hard on myself, I expect a lot out of myself, but at the same time I think it’s good at drawing the line where it doesn’t help me to keep dragging on myself, so I think it’s nice to get away from the rink and have roommates that help you get away from the game.

“It gets frustrating, but for me I love to play with the puck and make plays and it usually comes for me, so it’s been tough, but we’ll get going here.”

Tage Thompson practiced on defense with Remi Elie. I can’t stress this enough how it’s a complete and utter waste of time for those two young players. It was another day missed that Thompson and Elie could get better at practice. They would’ve been better served in the weight room or watching video.

I asked if there comes a point where Thompson would be better served in Rochester. Housley said, “We continue to develop his game whether it’s after practice or video, that’s one way to develop.

“I understand that playing is most important and he’s going to get an opportunity here, he’s not going to get an opportunity tomorrow, but he’ll get an opportunity at some point in the near future.”

Housley said Zach Bogosian missed Friday’s practice as a maintenance day. The head coach expects the defenseman to play on Saturday.

It also sounds like the Evan Rodrigues will be back in the lineup for Remi Elie.

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