Published by hockeybuzz.com, 1-31-2018
After going through a terrible health scare last April and spending months trying to get back to his former self, Buffalo Sabres right winger Kyle Okposo looks as if he's finally gotten his feet under him. Okposo put together a three-game point-streak (1g +3a) bridging the calendar year then went silent for three games.
With the Sabres returning home from a very unsuccessful three-game road trip, head coach Phil Housley did some line juggling and Okposo wound up on Jack Eichel's wing. It proved to be quite the elixir for his scoring woes as he busted out with 10 points (3+7) in eight games. The 29 yr. old finished the month second on the team in scoring for the with 12 points and was tied for the team lead with nine assists. Okposo also lead the Sabres with seven primary assists, far outpacing the rest of the team.
Perhaps more importantly, for those of us viewing the team on a nightly basis, was the way Okposo was playing. Sure, having Eichel as your center is plenty motivation and can up every part of your game, but Okposo looked like he had finally said good-bye to the health scare he was recovering from.
That's good news for him and good news for the team as he's locked into a contract through 2022-23.
Eichel himself had a big month as he continued what he started with in December, either leading or tying for the lead in points, goals and assists. His 30 points in 25 games through the last two months shot him to the top of the Sabres leadearboard and now places him 21st in the league in scoring as of today.
Center Ryan O'Reilly continued his solid, steady improvement after a very rough go of it early in the season. He had four goals and six assists for the club in January while also clipping another two points off of his plus/minus rating. For the second month in a row he lead the team with a plus-2 rating bringing his overall plus/minus down to a minus-13.
The rise of Rasmus Ristolainen marked the month of January as the defenseman tied for the team lead in assists (9) and was third in points with 11. Ristolainen logged his usual top-pairing minutes and was one of three players (Marco Scandella, Jake McCabe) with an even rating that came in second behind O'Reilly in plus/minus.
Buffalo's goaltending took a hit this past month as the duo of Robin Lehner and Chad Johnson were giving up goals by the bushels in the first three weeks. Both managed to stage a comeback as the Sabres went on their first three-game winning streak of the season, but for Lehner the damage had been done as he saw his goal-against rise and his save percentage drop despite recording back-to-back shutouts. He also recorded a career-long 145:15 without allowing a goal. It all added up to a 2-5-1 record for the 26 yr old native of Gothenburg, Sweden.
In January we also saw the season debut of goaltender Linus Ullmark who got the nod on the last game before the Sabres went into their bye-week. Ullmark was superb in net in leading the Sabres to a surprising 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
February looks to be a very trying month for the team as 11 of the 14 teams they face are either in or very close to a playoff spot as of today. Also in the mix during the shortest month of the year is the upcoming February 26 NHL trade deadline which almost certainly will see the departure of forward Evander Kane and another player of two (maybe more) from the Sabres lineup.
Kane's stats for the month--12 games, 1 goal, 1 assist, minus-3.
Buffalo Sabres 2017-18 Individual Stats leaders:
--October: Pominville, Kane, Eichel, 12; O'Reilly, 8
--November: Kane, 11; Okposo, 9; O'Reilly, 8
--December: Eichel, 16; Kane, 11; O'Reilly, 8
--January: Eichel, 14; Okposo, 12; Ristolainen, 11
--October: Pominville, Kane, 6; Eichel, O'Reilly, 4
--November: Kane, 6; Pouliot, 4; Eichel, O'Reilly, Reinhart, Okposo, 3
--December: Eichel, 8; Kane, Okposo, 3; six with 2
--January: Eichel, Reinhart, 5; O'Reilly, 4; Okposo, 3
--October: O'Reilly, 3; Pominville, Kane, Reinhart, 1
--November: O'Reilly, Pouliot, Reinhart, Okposo, 1
--December: Eichel, Kane, Pominville, Rodrigues, 1
--January: O'Reilly, Reinhart, 3; Okposo, 2
--October: Eichel, 8 Pominville, Kane, 6
--November: Okposo, 6; Kane, O'Reilly, 5
--December: Eichel, Kane, 8; O'Reilly, 6; Scandella, 5
--January: Eichel, Okposo, Ristolainen, 9; O'Reilly, 6
--October: Kane, Ristolainen, 2; six players with 1
--November: Kane, 3; Okposo, 2; three players with 1
--December: Eichel, Ristolainen, 2; Kane, Reinhart, Okposo, 1
--January: Eichel, 7; Ristolainen, 6; Okposo, 4
--October: Eichel, 7; O'Reilly, Ristolainen, 4; Kane, Beaulieu, 2
--November: Eichel, 4; O'Reilly, Okposo, 3; four players with 2
--December: Eichel, Kane, O'Reilly, 5; Scandella, 3; McCabe, 2
--January: Okposo, 7; Eichel, O'Reilly, Ristolainen, Scandella, 3
--October: Pominville, +3; Girgensons, Gorges, +1; Pouliot, even
--November: Reinhart, Nolan, Scandella, Antipin, even; Kane, Griffith, Gorges, -1
--December: O'Reilly, +2; Girgensons, Wilson, +1; Larsson, McCabe, even
--January: O'Reilly, +2, Ristolainen, Scandella, McCabe, even
--October: O'Reilly, -9; Reinhart, -8; Okposo, -7
--November: O'Reilly, Larsson, -8; McCabe, -7; Beaulieu, -6
--December: Kane, Pominville, -7; Ristolainen, -6; Rodrigues, -5
--January: Girgensons, -7; Eichel, Beaulieu, Falk, -6
--October: 4-2-1; 2.78 GAA; .911 Sv%; 1 shutout
--November: 5-11-2; 2.92; .906, 1
--December: 9-14-5; 2.74; .915; 1
--January: 11-19-6; 2.85; .912; 3
--October: 1-3-1; 4.06 GAA; .879 Sv%; 0 shutouts
--November: 1-4-2; 3.59; .885; 0
--December: 1-6-3; 3.78; .881; 0
--January: 2-8-3; 3.64; .884; 0
--January: 1-0-0; 1.00 GAA; .978 Sv%; 0 shutouts