O'Reilly trying to get his total game back

December 12, 2017

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Robin Lehner has faced 96 shots in the last two games allowing just six goals. Lehner gets the start tonight against his old team. He’s enjoyed playing Ottawa as he’s 4-0-2 with a 1.30 goals against .959 save percentage.

Lehner has played nine out of the last 10 games and has picked up points in each of his last three.

Evander Kane has points in four straight games, while Sam Reinhart’s assist in St. Louis was his first point in eight games.

The Buffalo Sabres have power play goals in two straight games, but the shorthanded goal they gave up in Chicago allowed the Blackhawks to tie the game late in the third period. Ryan O’Reilly said that over the past two games, the two units have done some good things, “I think there’s a good understanding with each other and guys doing their jobs a lot more, it’s something we need, definitely a good spark for us.”

O’Reilly has not scored in eleven games, but has five assists in those games. O’Reilly is always very hard on himself, but he said half his game has come around, “It’s been frustrating this last little bit because I want to create more and contribute more, but it’s different from the start of the year because in the beginning of the year, I really wasn’t doing much, but the staples of my game, playing good defensively, I’ve been solid in that area. I still need to be better, but offensively I’ve got to get that heaviness and puck possession back where I’m protecting the puck more and not throwing it away.”

In the last two games, O’Reilly has not been on the ice for any of the six goals against. In Denver, he was on the ice for both of them, but was still plus two for the game.

I’ve always felt O’Reilly was overused as he led the NHL in forwards ice-time the past two season. Rasmus Ristolainen leads all players in the league averaging 27:20 per-game. This season, Florida’s Aleksander Barkov leads all forwards with 22:26. O’Reilly is 15th in the NHL at 20:28. Jack Eichel is 12th overall at 20:40.

When talking about O’Reilly’s game, Phil Housley agrees with much of what his centerman is saying, “He’s providing a good low-center support on the breakout and when he does that, he just gains more speed. The higher he starts, the less speed he can create, but when he starts from the lower position, he can get up to speed in the neutral zone.

“I’d like him to shoot the puck a lot more, he’s got a really good release and a hard one to read.”

Evander Kane is fourth in the league amongst forwards with 130 shots on goal. O’Reilly is 64th with just 76 shots. Housley wants them all to have Kane’s mentality, “There’s a lot of guys I wish had more of it. He’s just throwing pucks to the net, it creates offense, it changes defense and I think he’s got to continue to do that.”

Housley said Nate Beaulieu is still not ready to go yet due to his sickness. He’s day-to-day.

Tuesday’s Lines:

Pouliot - Eichel - Pominville

Girgensons - O’Reilly - Okposo

Kane - Rodrigues - Reinhart

Wilson - Larsson - Nolan

Scandella - Ristolainen

McCabe - Bogosian

Gorges - Falk

Beaulieu - Antipin

Ottawa is five points better than Buffalo, but is on a horrendous streak. The Senators have lost 11-of-12 games. In that streak, they’ve been shutout four times and have scored two or less goals in all but two of those games.

As bad as that is, the Sens still average 2.71 goals per game which is 23rd in the league

Mark Stone leads the Senators with 14 goals, but he doesn’t have a goal in his last five.

Superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson has only one goal all season. The captain has produced 18 points in 23 games.

Mark Hoffman has only one goal in seven games and since being traded to Ottawa from Colorado, Matt Duchene has just two goals and two assists in 14 games.

Overall, Ottawa is 28th in the NHL at .446 while Buffalo is 30th at .333.

Mike Condon will be in goal for the fifth time in seven games. He’s 2-2-4 with a 3.28 goals against and .902 save percentage.

Join Schopp and the Bulldog for the pregame at 6:00 from (716) Food and Sport when they’ll be joined by Phil Housley, Ryan O’Reilly and Sam Reinhart.