Sabres' coach is quite happy with Eichel's latest streak

March 6, 2017
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I have to admit, I was quite surprised reading some fans and media comments about Jack Eichel in his last 16 games. The 20-year old center has 21 points in his last 16 games, but he was being ripped because he only had four goals in that stretch.
 
Three of those four goals have come in his last five games, but I’m not following this logic. If you have a player that is picking up 1.31 points per game over a quarter of the season, how can that be a bad thing in any way shape or form?   
 
To me, if you’re generating offense for the team, it makes no difference at all who scores the goals. Dan Bylsma said, “Over the course of the last stretch, he’s producing over a point a game and he’s near a point a game for the games he’s played this year.”
 
“We’re imploring Jack to develop his shot as a weapon and to use it and I think he’s done a better job of doing that.” Bylsma added, “It’s something he can continue to do better and I think for him, the progression is to decide if he’s going to be a 35 or 40 goal scorer or a guy who gets 30 goals and 50 assists and he can be either one of those players and he has been for us the last stretch.”
 
In 45 games Eichel has 15 goals and 26 assists for 41 points. Since January 24, Eichel and Jamie Benn lead the league with 23 points. Evander Kane has 22. 

When the season started, Eichel was hurt for the first 21 games. It seemed like every time the great young players of the game were mentioned, it was always Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine.
 
It had to bother Eichel that since he wasn’t playing, he was being forgotten about. Since coming back he compares nicely with all the great young players of the league. I took their totals this season and projected them over 82 games
 
I’ll also include the three top forwards taken in the 2014 draft.
 
1-McDavid Edm.   28 goals  66 assists  94 points
2-Laine Winn.      45 goals  37 assists  82 points
3-Eichel Buff.       29 goals  47 assists  76 points
4-Matthews Tor.  40 goals  31 assists  71 points
5-Marner Tor.       21 goals  49 assists  70 points
6-Draisaitl Edm.   29 goals  40 assists  69 points
7-Reinhart Buff.    19 goals  33 assists  52 points
8-Bennett Calg.    14 goals  14 assists  28 points
 
It’s interesting that Eichel would have one more goal than McDavid, but 19 fewer assists.
 
Buffalo has only won one of its last seven games. They thought they could challenge for a playoff spot, but every time it gets close, they freeze up. Both Tim Murray and Bylsma have spoken about it lately. It’s surprised me that both have explained it away as part of the process after both expected to challenge for a playoff spot this season. Bylsma said, “Am I satisfied with the progress? No, I’m not satisfied with the progress.”
 
“I’d like it to be quicker to get down the road a little faster, but you can't accelerate the process, you can’t get there quicker than you want to get there and we just have to keep going, keep building with the way we play. I think at times we’ve had that and that’s something that we have to keep plugging away to do.”
 
From the injury front, Dmitry Kulikov will miss his second straight game with a concussion.
 
Will Carrier still can’t put too much weight on his knee and is no better. He has missed 16 games.
 
Bylsma did confirm that despite Johan Larsson rehabbing, he will not surprise us and return this season.
 
The team held long meetings and film sessions on Monday, but did not skate.
 
Buffalo has played six games since the bye week and has one win. Evander Kane summed it up very well, “We could easily be 6-0 if you look at the scenarios we’ve been in. Disappointing? That’s one word to use.”
 
If you analyze that statement it is so very true. They played the worst two teams in the NHL and lost 5-3 on an empty netter and 3-2 after holding a 2-0 lead midway through the third period.
 
They lost an overtime decision to Nashville after blowing two, two goal leads, lost in a shootout to Tampa Bay and coughed up a 3-0 lead in Pittsburgh losing 4-3.
 
The next opportunity comes Tuesday at home against the Flyers. Earlier this year, the game in Philadelphia was another where the Sabres blew a 3-0 lead only to lose 4-3 in a shootout.