Sabres shuffle the deck again for the Red Wings

October 24, 2017
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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Phil Housley juggled his lines again at Tuesday’s morning skate. I suppose it’s possible he was putting on a show for Jeff Blashill and his staff, but I don’t understand at all why you would fool with lines that dominated Boston for the last 37 minutes of the game.

Benoit Pouliot, Kyle Okposo and Ryan O’Reilly all had their best game of the season against the Bruins. So did Marco Scandella and Victor Antipin on the backend.  

Zemgus Girgensons and Justin Falk returned to practice, but aren’t quite ready to play. They’ll sit with Zach Redmond.

 

In today’s practice it was:

 

Kane  Eichel  Okposo

Reinhart  O’Reilly  Pominville

Moulson  Larsson  Griffith

Nolan  Pouliot  Bailey (Girgensons)

 

Scandella  Ristolainen

McCabe  Fedun

Antipin  Tennyson

Falk  Redmond

 

Housley wouldn’t say who will center Nolan and Bailey, but I don’t think it will be Pouliot.

Robin Lehner gets the call in goal. Lehner is 1-3-1 with a 3.29 goals against and .894 save percentage.

Antipin is getting a chance on the power play tonight. The PP has only scored five goals this season and has given up six. Part of the reason Antipin is out there is to get two defensemen on both units. Another reason is his quick puck movement,

Buffalo’s power play is 22nd in the NHL at 15.6 percent. It hasn’t connected in 5-of-6 games going 0-for-14 in those five games.

In the last four games the penalty kill is 14-of-16.

The Sabres have picked up points in three of four games going 2-1-1. That has them three points in front of Montreal and tied in points with Florida. The Sabres trail Boston by one.

The Sabres have lost all three games at home this season and are 2-6-2 in their last 10 games here against Detroit.

Ryan O’Reilly has three goals and three assists for six points in his last four games.

Justin Bailey has points in three of his four games since being called up.

Jack Eichel, Evander Kane and Jason Pominville are all tied for 7th in NHL scoring with 11 points in nine games.

Kyle Okposo has no goals and just one point in seven games. He too had his best game in Boston, but quite frankly, he wasn’t impressed, “I’ve played better. I’m still looking for more, I’m looking for production, it’s something I’ve prided myself on and it’s not there right now.”

“The work was better and I created some opportunities and I had some chances, but I’ve got to produce.”

Housley liked what he saw from his veteran winger, “Kyle was fantastic, moving his feet and winning some puck battles, but just finding a way to get involved and it might not have been on the scoresheet, but certainly his game went to another level.”

The Red Wings have lost four straight going 0-3-1. Goaltending has not been good for Detroit as its given up three or more goals in seven out of eight games.

Detroit is also having trouble on the PP with just one goal in five games. That makes them 1-of-16.

Captain Henrik Zetterberg has found a fountain of youth with four goals and five assists for nine points in nine games.

Mike Green is Detroit's leading scorer with 10 assists and 11 points in nine games. Dylan Larkin has one goal and eight assists.

Jimmy Howard gets the call in net. He’s 3-2-0 with a 2.81 goals against and .916 save percentage.

Getting back to Lehner for a moment, a few weeks ago he decided to go back to his old equipment vendor. He said it was for comfort, “Brian’s a great company, they have top people, but I’ve been with Vaughn for six-seven years and they just feel like me, so I had to go back to them to do what’s best for me and the team.”

“Brian had great pads, but they were just a little different from what I had been used to and it’s like a player changing a stick, you’ve got to go back and do what you’re comfortable with.”

Join Schopp and the Bulldog for pregame from 716 beginning at 6:30 when they’ll be joined by Phil Housley, Robin Lehner and Benoit Pouliot.