Published by hockeybuzz.com, 11-19-2016
The call-up carousel continued this morning as the Sabres announced that forwards Cal O'Reilly and Cole Schneider have been recalled from Rochester. In a departure from what Buffalo had been doing with their many call-ups so far this season, GM Tim Murray and head coach Dan Bylsma may be looking to the two journeymen forwards to help steady a ship that's been trying to stay afloat through some pretty choppy water.
Prior to this recall the Sabres laid NHL opportunities at the feet of a group of youngins who didn't quite have the impact one would have hoped for. Three 21 yr. olds--Justin Bailey, Nicolas Baptiste and William Carrier--combined for 21 total games for Buffalo but managed only two goals, both from Baptiste, and zero assists amongst them. Of the three only Carrier remains.
With injuries putting a crimp the type of speed and skill game Bylsma likes to play, the Sabres have been trying to make the transition to more of a shutdown style. The team skated yesterday and according to media reports focused upon playing well defensively. "We talked today about concentrating on playing the right way, limiting the other team's chances," forward Matt Moulson told the gathered media after practice at KeyBank Center. "It seems like we're giving up a lot of odd-man rushes to some pretty skilled groups the last couple games so I think that's the focus. Playing the right way will lead to offensive chances and scoring chances."
The 30 yr. old O'Reilly (brother of injured Ryan) is a strong defensive forward who should help with that. O' Reilly has 133 NHL games under his belt scoring 16 goals and adding 32 assists while coming in at a pretty solid minus-five rating. Last year he got extensive playing time with Buffalo appearing in 20 games for the Sabres scoring three goals and adding four assists with a minus-1 rating.
Schneider, a Williamsville, NY native, is on his second recall for Buffalo this season. He had an assist in his first NHL game vs. Ottawa on November 9 then was sent back to Rochester after the following game. The 6'1" 200 lb. left wing was atop the AHL scoring leader board with 17 points (7+10) until O'Reilly surpassed him last night with an assist.
The Sabres face a pretty potent Pittsburgh Penguins club tonight featuring a triple threat of Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin and a goaltending duo of Marc-Andre Fleury and 22 yr. old Matt Murray.
Pittsburgh heads to Buffalo for their final game of a three-game road trip that saw them get trounced in Washington 7-1 on Wednesday then travel to Brooklyn to pull out a 3-2 overtime win over the NY Islanders. With Murray playing last night against the Isles, Fluery is almost a certainty in net for Pittsburgh.
The Sabres have had plenty of trouble against Pittsburgh as of late going 1-8-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Penguins. Last season Buffalo was 0-2-1 leaving Bylsma without a victory in his first season against his former team. Pittsburgh outscored Buffalo 12-10 in their three victories with one of those games being won in the shootout.
With the Sabres in a serious goal-scoring funk, Bylsma opted to make some changes. According to Jourdon Labarber of Sabres.com, the lines at this morning's skate were:
Evander Kane-Johan Larsson-Kyle Okposo
Marcus Foligno-Sam Reinhart-Brian Gionta
Zemgus Girgensons-Cal O'Reilly-Matt Moulson
William Carrier-Derek Grant-Cole Schneider
Reinhart gets bumped down to the second line while Larsson takes his spot on the top line. C. O'Reilly takes over at center for Girgensons who moves to left wing on that line. Labarber also notes that O'Reilly took Larsson's place on the second powerplay unit.
Bylsma needed to shake it up as the team has not scored more than two goals since October 30 in Winnipeg, a span of nine games. During that stretch they've scored two goals thrice, one goal five times and were shut out once. Remarkably, Buffalo is 2-5-2 during that span.