Jason Botterill Interview – The Instigators (1/28/20)

January 28, 2020

Jason Botterill
The Instigators (10 a.m.)
https://wgr550.radio.com/media/audio-channel/01-28-hr-1-the-instigators (16:30)

Andrew Peters: When you open a radio show, TV show, you got to talk about – set the table for everybody at 10 a.m. right out the gate. We’re going have General Manager Jason Botterill on and he joins us now. So, what’s up Botts, we’re talking James Bond.

Jason Botterill: Wow. You guys got the hot items right off the bat today, that’s good to hear.

AP: You know what’s funny, is we get you on now, I think about it. I was going to say well, are you a Bond fan, but you know what, Ralph Krueger would make one hell of a James Bond.

JB: I completely agree with you. He’s got that international flair to him and stuff, I agree with you on that one for sure.

AP: I think he would be a good James Bond candidate. You just see how he looks behind the bench, just dialed right in and dapper as can be.

Craig Rivet: He looks perfect in his suits. His tie — I don’t even know how he ties his tie so perfectly.

JB: [laughs] I need — in the offseason, he’ll have to sit down with me and help me out in that category, for sure.

AP: Hard hitting analysis here, Botts. That’s where we watch our games; we worry about the ties the coaches are wearing and everything. We don’t worry about the plays that were made. How are you? How was the All-Star break?

JB: It was good. I think it’s a great break, actually, for our players and everyone. You look at the Christmas break you get, it’s so short and the holidays are so chaotic. This allows players to get away, get refocused, re-energized for the last part of the season here. And what I’ve seen is just the development of the players, too. Now, back in your day, Petey or Craig, you take seven days off, guys would be terrible. But I think guys take care of themselves so much better nowadays and Ralph and myself have been very impressed with the effort in practice the last couple of days. I think our execution took a big jump from [day one to day two] and that will be the challenge here tonight against Ottawa. I think we’ll be, obviously, the fresher team than Ottawa, with Ottawa playing last night, but I think Ottawa’s execution will probably be a little better with getting that first game out of the way. It will be important for us to bring energy right off the bat, starting the game here tonight, but really trying to focus on our execution.

AP: Why us?! Why did you have center us out?

CR: I think he knows us pretty well, is what he’s trying say.

AP: How did you feel after a week off, Botts?

JB: Look, I’ll throw myself in that same boat. If I took seven days off in the middle of the year from skating, oh it would take…

CR: Three weeks it takes you. Three weeks it takes you to get back.

JB: For sure. Or hey, you get back the first day and you have a groin pull or a hip issue and you’re out for a month. But these guys, the way they take care of their bodies now, just the workouts. They came back in, I thought, great spirits and did a great job with the last couple days in practice. So looking forward to finally getting back into game situations here.

CR: Well, by no means, do I want to make this interview about me, but I will tell you that, looking back at what you just said, I can tell you that the reason why I felt so terribly when I came back — it wasn’t seven days off, it was what I did during the seven days. And that’s exactly where I feel the game has changed the most — before we get into some more in-depth stuff — is and are the athletes that these players have become just even in the last 15 years.

JB: 100 percent. They’re always looking for the edge. They’re always looking for something that can help them. They’re continually asking us, they’re continuing to ask other players in the league whenever someone has success. What are they doing? What training methods are there? They’re becoming extremely proactive in their development and I think our group, in general over the last couple of years, has taken a big step in that direction and you bring in someone like Michael Frolik; he’s just a conssumate pro. He’s played in Stanley Cup Finals, he’s played in World Championships; just how he handles himself day-in, day-out as a veteran player. I think those things are great sort of, learning experiences for our players and they’re bringing that into their own routine.

CR: Speaking of development, you know, we’ve got some young players on this team. A player like Casey Mittelstadt, making the decision to put him down in the minors for a little while to allow him to play more minutes, get into some different situations that he may not have gotten up here in the NHL. Guys like Rasmus Dahlin, [Henri] Jokiharju, where do you feel the development of some of these young guys are right now?

JB: Well, I think, especially you look at someone like Casey, we certainly talked a lot about what to do with his development. He can certainly play in the National Hockey League right now. But I think it’s more along the lines of just surviving in the league. We have high expectations for Casey and I know Casey has high expectations for his own career. I think just getting him in an environment where he has opportunities to make a few more plays, continue to work on his game and the thing that allowed us to have the confidence in making this move, too, was just the relationship that Chris Taylor developed with Ralph while being up here earlier in the year. Chris knows exactly what Ralph is looking for from Casey. I think Chris also saw Casey in some of his best games of the year, whether it was the first game of the season against Pittsburgh or another strong game against LA at the start of the season, and then he also saw him when he struggled and he knows the differences there. I think that knowledge has helped Chris interact with Casey very well in Rochester and we’ve been happy with his development over the last couple of weeks down there.

AP: What’s the mission — we’re joined right now on the line with Jason Botterill, general manager of the Buffalo Sabres, game night tonight, 7 p.m. at home. Ottawa in Buffalo, here — coming out of the break here, what is your mission between now and the end of the year?

JB: Well, our mission for our team is to win tonight against Ottawa. That has to be the focus. I think Ralph’s talked a lot about — ever since the disappointing loss to Tampa Bay on New Year’s Eve — just getting our group re-focused from a standpoint of trying to win two out of three games. You know, that’s not dictating whether you’re automatically going to be in the playoffs or what, but it’s going to at least give you a chance. And that’s what Ralph is focusing on the players from that element. The biggest thing is you try to look — we certainly have to look, from a management standpoint of a bigger picture, and so there will be decisions we’ll have to make by the end of the month from that standpoint. But from our team focus, and our individual day-to-day focus right now it’s, “Hey, what’s the next game up?” And we all know that we have, I believe it’s eight of the next nine games at home. We’ve also known that we’ve enjoyed — one of our challenges we set to our team at the start of the year was to have a home-ice presence and I think, overall, we’ve done a pretty good job with that and it’s important that we continue that over the next couple of weeks here. But I think when our team has played extremely well throughout the year, it’s because they’ve kept things small. They’ve looked at the small picture here. And Ralph has done a very good job with the group from that standpoint.

AP: You’ve said in a couple media scrums that you’re actively looking to make some moves. Does that ever stop? Is that ongoing? I guess, with the trade deadline coming up, how soon in advance do deals start to be made for the trade deadline, or how far in advance, may be another way to ask?

JB: Well, look, I think here’s always dialogue going on with different teams. It’s just, you’re talking with a team, you feel you’re close and they run into a couple strings of injuries during games. I think during the break, GMs get away from their teams a little bit, have opportunities to go through scouting meetings with their group and really see what they’re looking for the stretch run. And look, you just look at some GMs in the past, they’re certainly aggressive trying to get their deals done in January or the start of February. Others want to wait straight to the deadline, or close to the deadline. You also have to understand the GM you’re working with and what his background is from that standpoint. But we’re continuing to have dialogue from that standpoint. We did make the trade to bring in Frolik; we’ve been very happy with what he’s added to our penalty kill situation and we’re excited to see now, with Jeff Skinner coming back to our lineup tonight, just that line of Skinner-Johansson-Frolik, to see what kind of chemistry they can develop as a group there and we’ll see what materializes.

CR: What is your main area of need? What in particular — what type of player are you looking for? Or is there one?

JB: Well, I think we’ve been very honest, continuing to try and look at our forward group to try and improve that group. We feel we have some young players, but when you lose [Valdimir] Sobotka, when you lose Tage Thompson for the year, you’re looking to try to add to that mix, for sure. The development — we talked earlier a little bit just about the development of some of our younger defensemen. When we were sitting here in the summer making the trade for Henri Jokiharju, we didn’t have him, “Oh, this guy’s going to be on our team for sure.” And he stepped up from that standpoint and that’s allowed us to have more depth from a defensive standpoint. And the same thing with a player like Lawrence Pilut. You know, it’s a situation where he’s accomplished what we wanted him to accomplish in the American Hockey League. He’s come up and played well; he deserves the opportunity to stay here right now. When these players come into the mix, it gives us more optionshere on defense. But what we’re looking for, from a forward standpoint, I continue to think finding more offensive skill, but also, too, just speed. The way Ralph wants our players to play on the forecheck and tracking back, if we continue to improve our speed. But that’s something that’s going to be ongoing, whether it’s before the deadline, the summer, that’s something we’re going to continue to work at.

AP: Jason Botterill joining us here on the line. Botts, feel free, I know you’re busy, I know you have a game day, so just tell us when you got to go. Otherwise, we’ll keep you on until noon. That’s up to you. But one player I want to ask you about, obviously, we’d like to ask you if there’s any kind of preliminary talks with Sam Reinhart. But another player I’d like to ask you about, and I kind of feel like he was a free acquisition in the offseason, is Curtis Lazar. I know he’s not like the saving grace, a lot of people might say, but I’ve really liked his game. I’ve really liked his style of play and I’m wondering if he’s a guy that might be around for a while.

JB: Well, your first question in regards to Sam is, look, obviously Sam is represented by Newport Sports. We have quite a few clients from Newport, and it keeps those dialogues going very well. But we’ve sort of believed, hey, let’s have things continue to go here. Sam’s a restricted free agent at the end of the year, he’s having a very strong year, let’s keep the focus on just his play and moving from that standpoint. In regards to Curtis, we were excited about signing him, I believe we signed on July 1 last year and brought him in the mix. What I like a lot about Curtis is just it shows what we’re trying to strive for from a development standpoint here. When you talk about development, everyone talks about your young players such as Rasmus Dahlin or a Casey Mittelstadt. But it’s also about a player like Curtis. Former first-round pick, who sort of bounced through the league a little bit. I thought he had a very strong training camp for us, and then came up for our western road trip, got some feedback on what he can really improve on his game and I thought he really worked on those elements in Rochester. So when he came back up, I thought his penalty killing was that much better. I thought his assertiveness around the net was that much better. I thought his work on faceoffs were that much better and that allowed him to get into the lineup and, more importantly, gain Ralph’s trust in those situations there. I think he took that feedback to heart and really worked on his game, and he’s certainly added an element to a specific need there.

CR: Going back to the cap situation, I’m certainly not a capologist by any stretch of the imagination and I’m sure there’s a lot of people that are very much like myself. I hear a lot about, you know, we’re over the cap kind of right now and how that effects us for next year, the cap recapture. Can you explain, how you’re going to try and work the cap to finish the end of the season or how that works?

JB: Well right now, obviously, with some of the players that we have on long-term injury, the Pegulas have given us the opportunity to go above the cap. It’s great that you have that ability to go above, through long-term injury, whether it was Matt Hunwick at the start of the season or Vladimir Sobotka. But you also have to have your ownership agree to take on extra salary from that standpoint. It allows you to go over the cap during the season and stay compliant from that standpoint. It’s just where could be an overage for next year is if performance bonuses are earned. So we have players such as Rasmus Dahlin and Henri Jokiharju and, before, Casey Mittelstadt, that could achieve performance bonuses. If they achieve those performance bonuses, then that will come out of our cap for next year. So that’s just something that we certainly have our eye on. We just want to have as much flexibility from year-to-year from a cap situation.

AP: Well, Botts, I think we’ve long overdone our time with you. So, appreciate your time. Did you do any scouting over the break?

JB: Did a little bit of scouting over the break. Also had — you always try to find the balance here with my family, too. So spent a couple days with my family, which I certainly enjoyed. What has excited me is just, you know, the energy of our coaches coming back after the break and just how re-energized our players have been. Now it’s for us to go out there and get results. Overall, I think we’ve played fairly well since the Christmas break, but there’s still the element of now getting results. And that’s what I’m excited about what this group could entail over the next couple of weeks here, starting here tonight against Ottawa.

Game Preview: 1/28/20 vs. Ottawa

GAME-DAY RESOURCES

Game Notes NHL Stats Press Clips

LAST GAME
Saturday, January 18
Buffalo 1 at Nashville 2
Goals: Reinhart
Goalie: Ullmark (35 saves/37 shots)
PP: 0/3; PK: 2/3; Shots: Nashville 37 – Buffalo 31

CURRENT INJURIES – (Man Games Lost: 227)
Player (injury, first game missed) – total games missed
Matt Hunwick (neck, Oct. 3; injured reserve) – 49 games
Vladimir Sobotka (knee, Nov. 9; injured reserve) – 33 games
Tage Thompson (shoulder, Nov. 19; injured reserve) – 29 games
Jeff Skinner (upper body, Dec. 29) – 10 games
Victor Olofsson (lower body, Jan. 4; injured reserve) – 7 games

TRANSACTIONS IN PAST 7 DAYS
1/26: Recalled D Lawrence Pilut from Rochester (AHL)
1/28: Activated F Jeff Skinner from IR

UPCOMING GAMES
Thursday, Jan. 30: Montreal at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 1: Columbus at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 4: Colorado at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 6: Detroit at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 7: Buffalo at NY Rangers, 7 p.m.

TONIGHT’S GAME
SENATORS at SABRES

  • This is the third of four meetings between the Sabres and Senators this season.
  • Last meeting: Ottawa defeated Buffalo 3-1 in Ottawa on Dec. 23, 2019.
  • Next meeting: Tuesday, Feb. 18 in Ottawa
  • The Sabres are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Senators; 6-3-1 at home.
  • This is the 144th game all-time between Buffalo and Ottawa; Buffalo has a 70-53-20 series record.
  • The Sabres are 39-23-8 at home against the Senators all-time.

THIS DATE IN SABRES HISTORY

  • The Sabres are 3-6-5 all-time on January 28.
  • January 28, 1983: The Sabres get goals from six different players (Andre Savard, Ric Seiling, Mike Foligno, Larry Playfair, Phil Housley and Gilles Hamel) as they defeat the Blackhawks 6-2 at the Aud.
  • January 28, 2000: Martin Biron turns aside 21 shots and James Patrick scores the game-winner as the Sabres earn a 1-0 victory vs. Ottawa.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • The Sabres have gone 11-4-3 in their last 18 games against the Senators and have a 12-4-4 record in the teams’ last 20 meetings in Buffalo.
    • With a win today, the Sabres would have wins in four straight home games against the Senators for the first time since they beat Ottawa in seven straight home games from Feb. 3, 2000 to March 19, 2002.
  • The home team has won each of the six meetings between these teams since the beginning of last season.
  • Jack Eichel has recorded 23 points (9+14) in 15 career games against the Senators, including at least a point in all but three of those games and 15 points (6+9) in eight home games. His 23 points and 1.53 points per game against the Senators represent his best outputs against any NHL opponent.
  • Sam Reinhart has totaled 16 points (6+10) in his last 16 meetings with the Senators, including two-point games in the last three meetings at KeyBank Center.
  • Colin Miller has recorded at least a point in each of his last three games against Ottawa, totaling five points (1+4) in those games.
  • Michael Frolik has three assists in three meetings with the Senators since the beginning of last season.
  • Rasmus Dahlin has recorded an assist in each of his three career home matchups with Ottawa.
  • Linus Ullmark is 2-1-0 in three career appearances against the Senators, logging a .926 save percentage and a 2.02 goals-against average in those games.

WHO’S HOT?

  • Jack Eichel has been held without a point in just three of his last 30 games played. During that stretch, which began with a four-goal performance vs. Ottawa on Nov. 16, Buffalo’s captain has totaled 43 points (20+23) in 30 appearances, also missing one game due to injury.
    • Entering play Monday, Eichel trailed only Artemi Panarin (47) and Nathan MacKinnon (46) for the most points in the league during that timeframe.
  • Sam Reinhart has totaled 21 points (8+13) in the Sabres’ last 21 contests, including at least a point in seven of the last eight (5+5).
  • Rasmus Dahlin has recorded seven points (1+6) in his last seven games.
  • Curtis Lazar has four points (1+3) in Buffalo’s last four games.
  • Linus Ullmark is 5-2-0 since the beginning of January with a .932 save percentage and a 2.00 goals-against average. He has allowed just one even-strength goal in each of Buffalo’s last four games, stopping 94 of 98 shots (.959) at even strength in those contests.

HOME COOKING

  • Tonight’s game kicks off a 20-day stretch during which the Sabres will play nine of 10 games at home. The lone road game during that span will take place on Feb. 7 at NY Rangers.
  • The Sabres are 14-6-3 through their first 23 home games of the season. The team’s .674 points percentage at home ranked seventh in the NHL before Monday’s games. If they finished the season at this pace, it would rank as the Sabres’ 15th-best home record in franchise history.
  • The team is averaging 3.43 goals per game at home this season, which would mark Buffalo’s best home scoring rate since the 2006-07 season (3.93).
  • With 38 points (20+18) in 23 home games this season, Jack Eichel’s 1.65 points per game at home tied for second-best in the league entering play Monday. His plus-20 rating at home led the league.
  • Sam Reinhart (11+13) is also producing at over a point-per-game rate through 23 home games this season. Reinhart has totaled 13 points (5+8) in his last nine games at KeyBank Center, including five multi-point outings.
  • Conor Sheary has posted seven points (4+3) in his last seven home games.
  • Marcus Johansson enters tonight’s game with five points (1+4) in his last five home games.
  • Linus Ullmark has won eight of his last 10 games at KeyBank Center, posting a .919 save percentage and a 2.52 goals-against average in those games.

SPECIAL OPS

  • Since the beginning of January, the Sabres have gone 6-for-21 (28.6%) on the power play. Their conversion rate ranked as the seventh-best rate in the league during the new year entering play Monday.
  • Through eight games in January, Buffalo has killed 17 of the team’s 20 shorthanded situations (85.0%), ranking as the seventh-best penalty kill percentage in the NHL in the new year before Monday’s games.
    • With two shorthanded goals during that span, they joined the Montreal Canadiens as one of just two teams with a league-best minus-1 goal differential while shorthanded in 2020.
    • Entering play Monday, Jake McCabe ranked fifth in the league among penalty killers during this stretch (min. 10 shorthanded minutes) in fewest shots against per two minutes of ice time (.840) and ranked eighth in fewest scoring chances allowed per two minutes (.672). (Data via NaturalStatTrick.com)

TEEN TITAN

  • Rasmus Dahlin has totaled 72 points (12+60) through his first 123 NHL games, including 28 points (3+25) in 41 games this season.
  • With his assist on Jan.18 at Dallas, Dahlin tied Bobby Orr for most points recorded by an NHL defenseman before his 20th birthday. He now trails only Phil Housley (132), Ray Bourque (79) and Rick Hampton (76) for most points ever recorded by a teenage defenseman.
  • Aaron Ekblad’s 61 points (22+39) in 129 games as a teenager led active NHL defensemen for most points before turning 20 until Dahlin recorded his 62nd point with an assist in his 108th NHL game on Dec. 14 at NY Islanders.
  • Andrei Svechnikov is the only active teenager in the NHL with more career points than Dahlin’s 72. He has 82 points (39+43) in 132 career games.
  • Entering play Monday, Dahlin’s .59 points per game in his career ranked as the 18th-highest rate among active NHL defensemen with at least 10 career games played. His .68 points per game so far this season represent the best single-season scoring rate by a Sabres defenseman with more than one game played since Garry Galley (.69) in 1995-96.

SETTING THE PACE

  • With his 28th goal in his 46th game of the season on Jan. 14 vs. Vegas, Jack Eichel tied his previous best total set in the 2018-19 season (77 GP).
  • Eichel’s output through 49 team games currently has him on pace to finish the season with 47 goals and 105 points, which would be the highest goal and point totals by a Sabre since Pat LaFontaine (53+95) and Alexander Mogilny (76+51) in 1992-93.
  • LaFontaine (83 in 1992-93) and Mogilny (78 in 1992-93) are the only Sabres ever to have recorded more even-strength points in a season than the 71 Eichel is currently on pace for.
  • Despite missing eight games due to injury, Rasmus Dahlin is currently on pace to record 51 points this season, which would make him the Sabres’ first 50-point defenseman since Garry Galley (54) in 1995-96.
  • Sam Reinhart is currently on pace to set career-high totals in goals (28) and points (69).

JACK ATTACK

  • Entering play Monday, Jack Eichel’s 28 goals this season ranked him fifth among all NHL players and his 62 points tied for ninth in the league.
  • Eichel represented the Sabres at NHL All-Star Weekend on Jan. 24 and 25 in St. Louis. With his third consecutive All-Star nod, Eichel became the seventh player in franchise history to represent the team in at least three NHL All-Star Games, joining Rick Martin (7), Gilbert Perreault (6), Dominik Hasek (5), Mike Ramsey (4), Phil Housley (3) and Alexander Mogilny (3). His four assists at this year’s event moved him past Martin for the most career All-Star Game points as a member of the Sabres (2+6).
  • With his 60th point of the season on Jan. 14 vs. Vegas, Eichel became the first Sabre to reach 60 points in 46 or fewer games since 1992-93 (Pat LaFontaine and Alexander Mogilny).
  • He joins Rick Martin as the only other player in franchise history to record at least 20 goals and 50 points in each of his first five NHL seasons.
  • Eichel hasn’t been held without a point in three consecutive appearances since early November. In his 32 games played since then, he has totaled 45 points (21+24), including a stretch of 18 straight appearances (Nov. 16 to Dec. 21) that tied Gilbert Perreault (Oct. 24 to Dec. 4, 1971) for the most consecutive games played with a point in franchise history.

POINTS IN BUNCHES

  • Jack Eichel has recorded 17 multi-point games this season, tying for the 10th-most in the NHL before Monday’s games. The Sabres are 12-3-2 (.765) in those games.
  • Entering play Monday, Eichel’s six multi-goal games tied for third-most in the league and his nine multi-assist games tied for eighth-most.
  • Eichel has recorded at least three points seven times this season, topping his previous career-high total (6) set in the 2016-17 season. Only Connor McDavid (11), Leon Draisaitl (9), Artemi Panarin (8) and David Pastrnak (8) had more games with at least three points this season entering play Monday.
  • Sam Reinhart ranks second on the Sabres with 11 multi-point games this season. The team is 8-2-1 this season (.773) and 39-7-8 (.796) in his career when he records at least two points.

SABRES AMONG LEAGUE-LEADERS (Sabres’ league rankings before 1/27 games)

  • Eichel: 21 EVG (T-3rd), 6 GWG (T-3rd), 28 G (5th), 42 EVP (T-7th), 62 PTS (9th)
  • Hutton: 2 SO (T-8th)
  • Olofsson: 9 PPG (T-8th)

SABRES REAL-TIME STATS LEADERS
Hits: Ristolainen (145), Girgensons (77), McCabe (65)
Blocked Shots: McCabe (62), Ristolainen (56), Jokiharju (45)
Shots: Eichel (163), Skinner (128), Olofsson (99)

SABRES’ RECORD IN 10 GAME SEGMENTS [W-L-OTL (PTS), GF/GA, PP, PK]
1-10: 8-1-1 (17), 38/24, 12/39, 23/30
11-20: 2-6-2 (6), 21/35, 2/26, 21/29
21-30: 3-4-3 (8), 34/34, 4/33, 23/32
31-40: 4-5-1 (9), 24/32, 4/23, 23/30
41-50: 5-4-0 (10), 28/27, 6/25, 20/25

OVERTIME RESULTS (4-6; 124-134 all-time)
Oct. 7 at CBJ: L, 4-3 (GWG-Texier, 2:08)
Oct. 9 vs. MTL: W, 5-4 (GWG-Johansson, 1:30)
Oct. 22 vs. SJS: W, 4-3 (GWG-Eichel, 3:13)
Nov. 14 vs. CAR: L, 5-4 (GWG-Hamilton, 2:28)
Nov. 27 vs. CGY: L, 3-2 (GWG-Lindholm, 1:17)
Nov. 30 at TOR: L, 2-1 (GWG-Tavares, 1:45)
Dec. 7 at VAN: L, 6-5 (GWG-Miller, 3:21)
Dec. 8 at EDM: W, 3-2 (GWG-Miller, 1:13)
Dec. 14 at NYI: L, 3-2 (GWG-Beauvillier, 3:04)
Jan. 2 vs. EDM: W, 3-2 (GWG-Eichel, 1:09)

SHOOTOUT RESULTS (1-1; 76-70 all-time)
Oct. 11 vs. FLA: W, 3-2 (GDG-Eichel)
Oct. 28 vs. ARI: L, 3-2 (GDG-Schmaltz)

MILESTONES APPROACHING (Player … Needs … Milestone)
Games Played
Linus Ullmark … 5 games … 100 career games played
Goals
Kyle Okposo … 8 goals … 200 career goals
Assists
Jack Eichel … 8 assists … 200 career assists
Points
Kyle Okposo … 1 point … 500 career points
Zach Bogosian … 6 points … 200 career points
Johan Larsson … 9 points … 100 career points 

RECENT MILESTONES
N/A

SABRES RECALL PILUT

The Buffalo Sabres have recalled defenseman Lawrence Pilut from the Rochester Americans (AHL).


Highlights:

  • Joins the Sabres for his third recall of the season after averaging 16:39 of ice time in six games during his last stint with the team.
  • Scored a goal in his only game since re-joining the Americans for the Sabres’ bye week. He now leads all Amerks defensemen in points per game (.73) and is tied for fourth among all Rochester skaters with 22 points this season.
  • Selected to play in the AHL All-Star Classic in both of his first two AHL seasons (didn’t participate in 2019 due to recall to Buffalo).

Game Preview: 1/18/20 at Nashville

GAME-DAY RESOURCES

Game Notes NHL Stats Press Clips

LAST GAME
Thursday, January 16
Buffalo 4 at Dallas 1
Goals: Vesey, Dahlin, Frolik, Girgensons
Goalie: Ullmark (28 saves/29 shots)
PP: 0/2; PK: 4/4; Shots: Dallas 29 – Buffalo 22

CURRENT INJURIES – (Man Games Lost: 222)
Player (injury, first game missed) – total games missed
Matt Hunwick (neck, Oct. 3; injured reserve) – 48 games
Vladimir Sobotka (knee, Nov. 9; injured reserve) – 32 games
Tage Thompson (shoulder, Nov. 19; injured reserve) – 28 games
Jeff Skinner (upper body, Dec. 29; injured reserve) – 9 games
Victor Olofsson (lower body, Jan. 4; injured reserve) – 6 games

TRANSACTIONS IN PAST 7 DAYS
N/A

UPCOMING GAMES
Tuesday, Jan. 28: Ottawa at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 30: Montreal at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 1: Columbus at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 4: Colorado at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 6: Detroit at Buffalo, 7 p.m.

TONIGHT’S GAME
SABRES at PREDATORS

  • This is the second of two meetings between the Sabres and Predators this season.
  • Last meeting: Buffalo defeated Nashville 4-3 in Buffalo on Dec. 12, 2019
  • The Sabres are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Predators; 6-4-0 on the road.
  • This is the 29th game all-time between Buffalo and Nashville; Buffalo has an 11-13-4 series record.
  • The Sabres are 9-5-0 on the road against the Predators all-time.

THIS DATE IN SABRES HISTORY

  • The Sabres are 12-5-4 all-time on January 18.
  • Four different Sabres goaltenders (Don Edwards, Tom Barrasso, Dominik Hasek, Martin Biron) have earned a shutout on Jan. 18. It is one of only three dates on which the Sabres have recorded four shutouts; the others are Feb. 16 and Nov. 19.
  • January 18, 1984: Tom Barrasso makes 30 saves in his first NHL shutout as the Sabres top the Los Angeles Kings 4-0.
  • January 18, 2008: Derek Roy records his third career hat trick and Drew Stafford records his first in a 10-1 win against the Atlanta Thrashers, marking the 12th game in franchise history to feature two Sabres hat tricks.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • Buffalo enters tonight’s game on the team’s fourth three-game winning streak of the season and seeking their first four-game streak.
  • With a win tonight, the Sabres would earn their first season sweep of the Predators in the 10 multi-game season series between the teams.
  • Jack Eichel has totaled 11 points (5+6) in nine career games against the Predators. Seven of those points (2+5) have come on the road, including a franchise record-tying five assists on March 31, 2018 in Nashville.
  • Kyle Okposo has 12 points (7+5) in 14 career games against Nashville. His .50 goals per game trail only his eight in 15 games against Chicago (.53) for his best scoring rate against any NHL opponent.
  • Sam Reinhart has nine points (6+3) in nine career games against the Predators, including at least a point in each of his four visits to Nashville (6+1).
  • Rasmus Ristolainen has totaled five assists in his last four games against Nashville.
  • Brandon Montour has tallied an assist in three straight meetings with the Predators entering tonight’s game.

WHO’S HOT?

  • Jack Eichel has recorded points in each of Buffalo’s last nine games (4+7), marking the longest active streak in the NHL. He already owns the longest streak in the NHL this season after recording 31 points (16+15) in 17 consecutive team games from Nov. 16 to Dec. 17.
    • Eichel joins David Pastrnak (13 & 12) as the only other NHL player to record two separate point streaks of at least nine games this season.
  • Sam Reinhart has totaled 20 points (7+13) in the Sabres’ last 20 contests.
  • Rasmus Dahlin has recorded six points (1+5) in his last six games.
  • Rasmus Ristolainen enters tonight’s game on a four-game point streak (1+3). With a point tonight, he would extend his streak to five games for the second time this season.
  • Curtis Lazar has points in each of the Sabres’ last three games (1+3), marking his second three-game point streak in the last three weeks and tying his run from March 26 to 29, 2015 as the longest of his career.
  • Kyle Okposo has recorded four points (1+3) in Buffalo’s last four games, including points in each of the last two.
  • Zemgus Girgensons, who logged his highest ice time (18:36) since March 2017 on Thursday at Dallas, has scored in three of the Sabres’ last four games.
  • Linus Ullmark is 5-1-0 since the beginning of January with a .929 save percentage and a 2.00 goals-against average. He has allowed just one even-strength goal in each of Buffalo’s last three games, stopping 65 of 68 shots (.956) at even strength in those contests.

SPECIAL OPS

  • Since the beginning of January, the Sabres have gone 6-for-18 (33.3%) on the power play. Their conversion rate tied as the fifth-best rate in the league during the new year entering play Friday.
    • Their plus-6 goal differential with the man advantage during that stretch tied for second in the league.
  • Through seven games in January, Buffalo has killed 15 of the team’s shorthanded situations (88.2%), tying for the sixth-best penalty kill percentage in the NHL in the new year.
    • With two shorthanded goals during that span, they joined the Dallas Stars as one of just two teams with an even goal differential while shorthanded in 2020.
    • Entering play Friday, Jake McCabe ranked fifth in the league among regular penalty killers (min. 10 shorthanded minutes) during this stretch in fewest shots against per two minutes of ice time (.704) and ranked sixth in fewest scoring chances allowed per two minutes (.528). (Data via NaturalStatTrick.com)

TEEN TITAN

  • Rasmus Dahlin has totaled 71 points (12+59) through his first 122 NHL games, including 27 points (3+24) in 40 games this season.
  • With his goal on Thursday at Dallas, Dahlin passed Scott Stevens (70) for most points recorded by an NHL defenseman before his 20th birthday. He now trails only Phil Housley (132), Ray Bourque (79), Rick Hampton (76) and Bobby Orr (72) for most points ever recorded by a teenage defenseman.
  • Aaron Ekblad’s 61 points (22+39) in 129 games as a teenager led active NHL defensemen for most points before turning 20 until Dahlin recorded his 62nd point with an assist in his 108th NHL game on Dec. 14 at NY Islanders.
  • Andrei Svechnikov is the only active teenager in the NHL with more career points than Dahlin’s 71. He had 79 points (38+41) in 129 career games entering Friday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks.
  • Dahlin’s .58 points per game in his career currently ranks as the 19th-highest rate among active NHL defensemen with at least 10 career games played. His .675 points per game so far this season represent the best scoring rate by a Sabres defenseman since Brian Campbell (.683) in 2007-08.

JACK ATTACK

  • Entering play Friday, Jack Eichel’s 28 goals this season ranked him fourth among all NHL players and his 62 points tied for seventh in the league.
  • Eichel has been selected to represent the Sabres at NHL All-Star Weekend on Jan. 24 and 25 in St. Louis. With his third consecutive All-Star nod, Eichel becomes the seventh player in franchise history to represent the team in at least three NHL All-Star Games, joining Rick Martin (7), Gilbert Perreault (6), Dominik Hasek (5), Mike Ramsey (4), Phil Housley (3) and Alexander Mogilny (3).
  • With his 60th point of the season on Jan. 14 vs. Vegas, Eichel became the first Sabre to reach 60 points in 46 or fewer games since 1992-93 (Pat LaFontaine and Alexander Mogilny).
  • He joins Rick Martin as the only other player in franchise history to record at least 20 goals and 50 points in each of his first five NHL seasons.
  • Eichel hasn’t been held without a point in three consecutive appearances since early November. In his 31 games played since then, he has totaled 45 points (21+24), including a stretch of 18 straight apperances (Nov. 16 to Dec. 21) that tied Gilbert Perreault (Oct. 24 to Dec. 4, 1971) for the most consecutive games played with a point in franchise history.
  • The streak was the NHL’s fifth-longest personal point streak in the last decade, trailing only Taylor Hall (26 in 2017-18), Patrick Kane (26 in 2015-16), Sidney Crosby (25 in 2010-11) and Patrick Kane (20 in 2018-19).

SETTING THE PACE

  • With his 28th goal in his 46th game of the season on Tuesday vs. Vegas, Jack Eichel tied his previous best total set in the 2018-19 season (77 GP).
  • Eichel’s output through 48 team games currently has him on pace to finish the season with 48 goals and 107 points, which would be the highest goal and point totals by a Sabre since Pat LaFontaine (53+95) and Alexander Mogilny (76+51) in 1992-93.
  • LaFontaine (83 in 1992-93) and Mogilny (78 in 1992-93) are the only Sabres ever to have recorded more even-strength points in a season than the 72 Eichel is currently on pace for.
  • Despite missing eight games due to injury, Rasmus Dahlin is currently on pace to record 50 points this season, which would make him the Sabres’ first 50-point defenseman since Garry Galley (54) in 1995-96.
  • Sam Reinhart is currently on pace to set career-high totals in goals (27) and points (68).

POINTS IN BUNCHES

  • Jack Eichel has recorded 17 multi-point games this season, tying for the ninth-most in the NHL before Friday’s games. The Sabres are 12-3-2 (.765) in those games.
  • Entering play Friday, Eichel’s six multi-goal games tied for third-most in the league and his nine multi-assist games tied for seventh-most.
  • Eichel has recorded at least three points seven times this season, topping his previous career-high total (6) set in the 2016-17 season. Only Connor McDavid (11), Leon Draisaitl (9), Artemi Panarin (8) and David Pastrnak (8) had more games with at least three points this season entering play Friday.
  • Sam Reinhart ranks second on the Sabres with 11 multi-point games this season. The team is 8-2-1 this season (.773) and 39-7-8 (.796) in his career when he records at least two points.

SABRES AMONG LEAGUE-LEADERS (Sabres’ league rankings before 1/17 games)

  • Eichel: 21 EVG (2nd), 28 G (4th), 6 GWG (T-3rd), 41 EVP (T-3rd), 62 PTS (T-7th)
  • Hutton: 2 SO (T-7th)
  • Olofsson: 9 PPG (T-6th)

SABRES REAL-TIME STATS LEADERS
Hits: Ristolainen (143), Girgensons (75), McCabe (65)
Blocked Shots: McCabe (62), Ristolainen (54), Jokiharju (43)
Shots: Eichel (160), Skinner (128), Olofsson (99)

SABRES’ RECORD IN 10 GAME SEGMENTS [W-L-OTL (PTS), GF/GA, PP, PK]
1-10: 8-1-1 (17), 38/24, 12/39, 23/30
11-20: 2-6-2 (6), 21/35, 2/26, 21/29
21-30: 3-4-3 (8), 34/34, 4/33, 23/32
31-40: 4-5-1 (9), 24/32, 4/23, 23/30
41-50: 5-3-0 (10), 27/25, 6/22, 18/22

OVERTIME RESULTS (4-6; 124-134 all-time)
Oct. 7 at CBJ: L, 4-3 (GWG-Texier, 2:08)
Oct. 9 vs. MTL: W, 5-4 (GWG-Johansson, 1:30)
Oct. 22 vs. SJS: W, 4-3 (GWG-Eichel, 3:13)
Nov. 14 vs. CAR: L, 5-4 (GWG-Hamilton, 2:28)
Nov. 27 vs. CGY: L, 3-2 (GWG-Lindholm, 1:17)
Nov. 30 at TOR: L, 2-1 (GWG-Tavares, 1:45)
Dec. 7 at VAN: L, 6-5 (GWG-Miller, 3:21)
Dec. 8 at EDM: W, 3-2 (GWG-Miller, 1:13)
Dec. 14 at NYI: L, 3-2 (GWG-Beauvillier, 3:04)
Jan. 2 vs. EDM: W, 3-2 (GWG-Eichel, 1:09)

SHOOTOUT RESULTS (1-1; 76-70 all-time)
Oct. 11 vs. FLA: W, 3-2 (GDG-Eichel)
Oct. 28 vs. ARI: L, 3-2 (GDG-Schmaltz)

MILESTONES APPROACHING (Player … Needs … Milestone)
Games Played
Linus Ullmark … 6 games … 100 career games played
Goals
Kyle Okposo … 8 goals … 200 career goals
Assists
Jack Eichel … 8 assists … 200 career assists
Points
Kyle Okposo … 1 point … 500 career points
Zach Bogosian … 6 points … 200 career points
Johan Larsson … 9 points … 100 career points 

RECENT MILESTONES
N/A

Game Preview: 1/16/20 at Dallas

GAME-DAY RESOURCES

Game Notes NHL Stats Press Clips

LAST GAME
Tuesday, January 14
Vegas 2 at Buffalo 4
Goals: Okposo, Reinhart, Eichel, Lazar
Goalie: Ullmark (24 saves/26 shots)
PP: 2/3; PK: 2/3; Shots: Buffalo 26 – Vegas 26

CURRENT INJURIES – (Man Games Lost: 217)
Player (injury, first game missed) – total games missed
Matt Hunwick (neck, Oct. 3; injured reserve) – 47 games
Vladimir Sobotka (knee, Nov. 9; injured reserve) – 31 games
Tage Thompson (upper body, Nov. 19; injured reserve) – 27 games
Jeff Skinner (upper body, Dec. 29; injured reserve) – 8 games
Victor Olofsson (lower body, Jan. 4; injured reserve) – 5 games

TRANSACTIONS IN PAST 7 DAYS
N/A

UPCOMING GAMES
Saturday, Jan. 18: Buffalo at Nashville, 8 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 28: Ottawa at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 30: Montreal at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 1: Columbus at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 4: Colorado at Buffalo, 7 p.m.

TONIGHT’S GAME
SABRES at STARS

  • This is the second of two meetings between the Sabres and Stars this season.
  • Last meeting: Buffalo defeated Dallas 4-0 in Buffalo on Oct. 14, 2019
  • The Sabres are 2-8-0 in their last 10 games vs. the Stars; 2-8-0 on the road.
  • This is the 126th game all-time between Buffalo and Dallas; Buffalo has a 57-51-17 series record.
  • The Sabres are 23-34-6 on the road against the Stars all-time.

THIS DATE IN SABRES HISTORY

  • The Sabres are 13-3-5 all-time on January 16.
  • January 16, 1970: George “Punch” Imlach is named general manager and coach of the Sabres.
  • January 16, 2017: Jake McCabe earns his first career game-winning goal by scoring the first power-play goal of his career in a 4-1 win at home against the Dallas Stars.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • The Sabres are seeking their first win in Dallas since Jan. 15, 2009. With a win tonight, Buffalo would have multiple wins in a season against the Stars for the first time since they won five straight matchups to sweep the 1984-85 and 1985-86 season series.
  • The Sabres have gone 6-for-14 (42.9%) on the power play in their last five games, converting at the third-best rate in the league during that stretch entering play Wednesday.
  • With a point tonight, Jack Eichel would join David Pastrnak as the only other NHL player to record two separate point streaks of at least nine games this season.
  • Sam Reinhart tied his career high with three points (1+2) in the Sabres’ last game on Tuesday vs. Vegas. The team is now 8-2-1 this season (.773) and 39-7-8 (.796) in his career when he records at least two points.
  • Carter Hutton, who shut out the Stars in the first meeting between these teams this season, is 4-3-2 against Dallas in his career with a .923 save percentage and a 2.27 goals-against average.
  • Linus Ullmark has yet to register a win against Dallas through three career meetings but has a .939 save percentage and a 1.72 goals-against average in those games.

WHO’S HOT?

  • Jack Eichel has recorded points in each of Buffalo’s last eight games (4+6), tying Mitchell Marner for the longest active streak in the NHL. His current stretch trails only his run of 18 consecutive games played with a point (Nov. 16 to Dec. 21) for his longest streak this season.
  • Sam Reinhart has totaled 19 points (7+12) in the Sabres’ last 19 contests.
  • Rasmus Dahlin has recorded five assists in his last five games. His .67 points per game so far this season represent the best scoring rate by a Sabres defenseman since Brian Campbell (.68) in 2007-08.
  • Rasmus Ristolainen enters tonight’s game on a three-game point streak (1+2).
  • Linus Ullmark is 4-1-0 since the beginning of January with a .923 save percentage and a 2.20 goals-against average.

JACK ATTACK

  • Entering play Wednesday, Jack Eichel’s 28 goals this season tied for third-most among all NHL players and his 61 points tied for seventh in the league.
  • Eichel has been selected to represent the Sabres at NHL All-Star Weekend on Jan. 24 and 25 in St. Louis. With his third consecutive All-Star nod, Eichel becomes the seventh player in franchise history to represent the team in at least three NHL All-Star Games, joining Rick Martin (7), Gilbert Perreault (6), Dominik Hasek (5), Mike Ramsey (4), Phil Housley (3) and Alexander Mogilny (3).
  • With his 60th point of the season on Jan. 14 vs. Vegas, Eichel became the first Sabre to reach 60 points in 46 or fewer games since 1992-93 (Pat LaFontaine and Alexander Mogilny).
  • He joins Rick Martin as the only other player in franchise history to record at least 20 goals and 50 points in each of his first five NHL seasons.
  • Eichel hasn’t been held without a point in three consecutive appearances since early November. In his 30 games played since then, he has totaled 44 points (21+23), including a stretch of 18 straight games (Nov. 16 to Dec. 21) that tied Gilbert Perreault (Oct. 24 to Dec. 4, 1971) for the most consecutive games played with a point in franchise history.
  • The streak was the NHL’s fifth-longest personal point streak in the last decade, trailing only Taylor Hall (26 in 2017-18), Patrick Kane (26 in 2015-16), Sidney Crosby (25 in 2010-11) and Patrick Kane (20 in 2018-19).

SETTING THE PACE

  • With 28 goals in 46 games so far this season, Jack Eichel has already tied his previous best total set in the 2018-19 season (77 GP).
  • Eichel’s output through 47 team games currently has him on pace to finish the season with 49 goals and 107 points, which would be the highest goal and point totals by a Sabre since Pat LaFontaine (53+95) and Alexander Mogilny (76+51) in 1992-93.
  • LaFontaine (83 in 1992-93) and Mogilny (78 in 1992-93) are the only Sabres ever to have recorded more even-strength points in a season than the 72 Eichel is currently on pace for.
  • Sam Reinhart’s 16 goals in 47 games put him on pace for a career-high goal total (28).

POINTS IN BUNCHES

  • Jack Eichel has recorded 17 multi-point games this season, ranking as 8th-most in the NHL before Wednesday’s games. The Sabres are 12-3-2 (.765) in those games.
  • Entering play Wednesday, his six multi-goal games tied for third-most in the league and his nine multi-assist games tied for seventh-most.
  • Eichel has already recorded at least three points seven times this season, topping his previous career-high total (6) set in the 2016-17 season. Only Connor McDavid (11), Leon Draisaitl (9), Artemi Panarin (8) and David Pastrnak (8) had more games with at least three points this season entering play Wednesday.
  • Eichel’s three games with at least four points this season tied for third-most in the league entering play Wednesday. Since he entered the league in 2015-16, only nine players had totaled at least four points more times than Eichel’s eight: Nikita Kucherov (15), Patrick Kane (12), Connor McDavid (11), Artemi Panarin (10), Johnny Gaudreau (9), Nathan MacKinnon (9), Brad Marchand (9), Alex Ovechkin (9) and Steven Stamkos (9).

SABRES AMONG LEAGUE-LEADERS (Sabres’ league rankings before 1/15 games)

  • Eichel: 21 EVG (2nd), 28 G (T-3rd), 6 GWG (T-3rd), 41 EVP (T-5th), 61 PTS (T-7th)
  • Hutton: 2 SO (T-7th)
  • Olofsson: 9 PPG (T-6th)

SABRES REAL-TIME STATS LEADERS
Hits: Ristolainen (140), Girgensons (74), McCabe (64)
Blocked Shots: McCabe (61), Ristolainen (54), Jokiharju (41)
Shots: Eichel (160), Skinner (128), Olofsson (99)

SABRES’ RECORD IN 10 GAME SEGMENTS [W-L-OTL (PTS), GF/GA, PP, PK]
1-10: 8-1-1 (17), 38/24, 12/39, 23/30
11-20: 2-6-2 (6), 21/35, 2/26, 21/29
21-30: 3-4-3 (8), 34/34, 4/33, 23/32
31-40: 4-5-1 (9), 24/32, 4/23, 23/30
41-50: 4-3-0 (8), 23/24, 6/20, 14/18

OVERTIME RESULTS (4-6; 124-134 all-time)
Oct. 7 at CBJ: L, 4-3 (GWG-Texier, 2:08)
Oct. 9 vs. MTL: W, 5-4 (GWG-Johansson, 1:30)
Oct. 22 vs. SJS: W, 4-3 (GWG-Eichel, 3:13)
Nov. 14 vs. CAR: L, 5-4 (GWG-Hamilton, 2:28)
Nov. 27 vs. CGY: L, 3-2 (GWG-Lindholm, 1:17)
Nov. 30 at TOR: L, 2-1 (GWG-Tavares, 1:45)
Dec. 7 at VAN: L, 6-5 (GWG-Miller, 3:21)
Dec. 8 at EDM: W, 3-2 (GWG-Miller, 1:13)
Dec. 14 at NYI: L, 3-2 (GWG-Beauvillier, 3:04)
Jan. 2 vs. EDM: W, 3-2 (GWG-Eichel, 1:09)

SHOOTOUT RESULTS (1-1; 76-70 all-time)
Oct. 11 vs. FLA: W, 3-2 (GDG-Eichel)
Oct. 28 vs. ARI: L, 3-2 (GDG-Schmaltz)

MILESTONES APPROACHING (Player … Needs … Milestone)
Games Played
Linus Ullmark … 7 games … 100 career games played
Goals
Kyle Okposo … 8 goals … 200 career goals
Assists
Jack Eichel … 9 assists … 200 career assists
Points
Kyle Okposo … 3 points … 500 career points
Zach Bogosian … 6 points … 200 career points
Johan Larsson … 9 points … 100 career points 

RECENT MILESTONES
Conor Sheary … 300th NHL game … Jan. 11 vs. VAN