Sabres' Lehner knows his name comes up in trade talk

January 18, 2018

New York, NY (WGR 550) - The bad news is the Rangers are 14-4-1 in their last 19 home games. If you count the Winter Classic, they’re 15-4-1. The good news is Buffalo has won its last two games in Madison Square Garden.

The Sabres are coming off a five day break and they will try to do better than last season. Buffalo came back and lost to the two worst teams in the NHL at the time and dropped seven out of eight games.

New York came off break this season and lost to the Islanders and Pittsburgh before beating Philadelphia.

Before going on break, the Sabres got past Columbus 3-1 to snap a five game losing streak. Linus Ullmark got the start in goal and made 44 saves. Robin Lehner had played two poor games out of three and was still hurting from a shot he took in Philadelphia where he played very well. Lehner said, “They’re the coaches and Linus was fully deserving of it.

“It doesn’t matter if you feel like you’re playing really good, we’re not contending for a playoff spot anymore and we weren’t winning and sometimes, not only because he’s deserving, sometimes it’s like pulling a goalie, it’s not always his fault, you try to get something new, you try something for a boost. Linus played a helluva game and I think we played a really good game too, so sometimes something like that’s needed and I have no issues with it. It goes back to I know what I am and I know what I can do.”

On July 1, Lehner will be a restricted free agent, just like he was last summer. Some folks feel he will be dealt before the trading deadline. Lehner hears the whispers, “At the end of the day, people have been talking about my name now for quite some time now. It’s a business, so I just approach my game.

“We have a ways to go as a team here to get to where we need to be and when you don’t perform, names float around, it’s just the nature of the beast. I know I’m a good hockey goalie, I think I’ve proven that, so I have no issues with it.”

Lehner starts tonight with a 9-16-6 record. His goals against is 2.94 with a .910 save percentage.

Jack Eichel went into the break with points in three straight games netting three goals and three assist for six points.

Ryan O’Reilly has points in three straight games picking up five points.

On the other side of things, Evander Kane has just one goal in nine games and just two points. He is now on a 30 goal pace while Eichel is on track for 34.

Goals continue to be the biggest problem for this group. Here’s a chart of the many slumps,

Jordan Nolan no goals in 19 games.

Kyle Okposo one goal in seven games

Johan Larsson one goal in 38 games

Sam Reinhart two goals in 22 games

Zemgus Girgensons two goals in 34 games

Jason Pominville one goal in 15 games

Benoit Pouliot one goal in 11 games

Evan Rodrigues no goals in 13 games

Scott Wilson one goal in 32 games

The Sabres did not have a power play against Columbus. Before that, Buffalo scored a PP goal in four out of six games.

Buffalo has given up a power play goal in seven straight games.

Phil Housley said Victor Antipin still needs more team practices to get stronger before he plays so he’s Buffalo’s only healthy scratch.

Henrik Lundqvist gets the call for New York. He’s 20-11-4 with a 2.54 goals against and .924 save percentage.

Michael Grabner is the only player in this game with 20 goals.

The Rangers and Penguins hold the Eastern Conference Wild Card spots with 51 points. They're two points behind Columbus for third in the Metropolitan Division and one point in front of the Islanders.

Join Mike Schopp for the pregame at 6:30 when he’ll be joined by Phil Housley, Robin Lehner and Benoit Pouliot.