Reinhart back skating with Eichel and Kane

December 20, 2017

This season has certainly been a struggle for Buffalo Sabres forward Sam Reinhart.

The 22-year old has recently hit a rut in his play with no goals in his last 12 games, and just one assist in that same time frame. Through 34 games this season, Reinhart has only produced five goals and eleven points, while shuffling around from line to line, looking to find a groove.

On Tuesday night against the Boston Bruins, Reinhart started the game on a line with Johan Larsson and Zemgus Girgensons, but was later moved to a line with Jordan Nolan and Jacob Josefson and played just 2:11 of the third period. Overall, Reinhart finished the night with one shot on goal in 11:05 of total ice-time.

Even with his latest struggles, Buffalo's first round pick (2nd overall) was back on the ice on Wednesday working on the top line with Jack Eichel and Evander Kane.

The Sabres have done themselves no favors in terms of the standings this season. The currently sit in 30th place in the overall standings, while sitting in dead last in the Eastern Conference standings.

Over this 12-game stretch in which Reinhart has struggled, the Sabres are 3-6-3, averaging just 1.5 goals per-game and have been shut out in four games. With the Sabres still struggling to find wins this season, head coach Phil Housley is looking for the right combinations to make something work for his team.

"When you're not winning, we're going to mix things up and change our lines to try and find a winning formula," Housley said after practice on Wednesday. "With Sam, there's a different expectation for him. He's proven that he can provide points and production offensively, and he's getting an opportunity."

Reinhart is aware of the struggles that he has faced as of late, and he's just doing what he can to fight through the turmoil.

"It's not easy," Reinhart said. "I'm showing up and I'm working as hard as I can every day, and that's all I can do right now.

"I think I'm working hard. Last night, I honestly liked my game. I think every opportunity that I get I have to take advantage, and I'm ready for that."

The third-year forward has been shuffled around quite a bit this season, playing on different lines with several different players. And with the Sabres losing so many games and Housley constantly looking for answers, it has not been easy for Reinhart to settle in and have time to play a specific teammate or line.

Reinhart understands well enough that there will likely be more bumps along the way on the road that leads to him trying to figure out his game.

"I've been here long enough to know where I'm at and what I need to do to prepare myself both physically and mentally," Reinhart said. "I think I'm doing that on a daily basis. There's people to kind of lean to for advice that have been here that I'm talking to a lot, and people who are close to me. There's going to be ups and downs, and I'm just trying to gut it through."

"I think he's got to consider [his struggles] as more of a challenge," Housley said. "We're in a stretch here where we were playing good hockey and then you lose a couple in a row, there's going to be some changes. In Sam's case, he's trying to find his game. I've really liked the last couple of games that he has brought. He has brought his speed, his work ethic, his compete, and that's why he's getting this opportunity. I don't think you can focus on what has happened on the past. I think he can learn from it, move forward and try to get better from it."

Here is how the lines were looking on Wednesday:

Kane - Eichel - Reinhart

Girgensons - O'Reilly - Okposo

Pouliot - Josefson - Pominville

Larsson - Rodrigues - Wilson

Scandella - Ristolainen

McCabe - Bogosian

Gorges - Antipin

Beaulieu - Falk

Jordan Nolan was the extra skater for the Sabres.

Buffalo will return to the ice on Thursday for practice before taking on the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night at KeyBank Center.