Sabres' Rodrigues is hoping to build on his last game

The center skated well and created chances in Montreal

Paul Hamilton
November 09, 2018 - 2:21 pm

Photo: Eric Bolte - USA TODAY Sports

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Evan Rodrigues was moved back to center in Montreal and responded with his best game of the season.

Rodrigues set up Vladimir Sobotka twice for goals and had three 2-on-1 chances in the first period alone. Rodrigues said, “I played center growing up, but hadn’t played it six or seven years before that, but I like playing wing cause it’s more freedom on the offensive side of things, but as a center, you have the puck way more on your stick and are able to make plays, so I can compete at both and am good at both, so wherever the coach needs me, that’s where I’m going to play.”

Rodrigues has not scored a goal this season, but he’s on a pace for 38 assists. He thinks there is more offense to come from him, “Yes, definitely, I feel like the more chances I get, the more I’m able to prove and if I get the chance, I can really show my offensive instincts.”

The 25-year-old has 12 goals in 93 NHL games and none this year. He’s still confident that can change, “I think as soon as I get the first one, the flood gates will open. I got robbed the second game of the year and since then, it seems I can’t catch a bounce, but you can’t get frustrated and I have to shoot the puck more and have the mentality to go to the net.”

Rodrigues has just one goal in his last 26 games. His right winger is awfully happy that he’s on a line with Rodrigues. Sam Reinhart worked strong on the wall to help spring Rodrigues on those outnumbered rushes. Reinhart said, “It’s the skill he possesses, his speed and the thing I look at is the way he thinks the game. I think we think the game alike and it helps because we’re on the same page out there.”

Housley wanted to give that line a different look in Montreal so that’s why Rodrigues wound up at center, “I like the way he plays the game in the middle of the ice for us, the way he disperses the puck, the way he creates speed and we get this push through the neutral zone.”

On Friday, Tage Thompson was on the right wing with Johan Larsson and Patrik Berglund during line rushes. Housley wouldn’t commit to if Thompson was play Saturday against Vancouver, but he did say, “We’ve got a lot of guys that are banged up with some bumps and bruises, so that will be a game-time decision. I just wanted to get him into a regular rotation and because we got in late last night, he got some more reps.”

Berglund blocked a shot on Thursday and is one of those guys with bumps and bruises, but he did practice.

It was a short practice on Friday with a lot of power play work. Housley kept telling the units that it’s not fast enough. He didn’t want them holding onto the puck in between passes.

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