Har­ring­ton says there’s no rea­son not to play Ny­lan­der

The Buffalo News - - SPORTS -


stub­born at best and pretty clue­less at worst. They’re hop­ing, of course, to see things in a long-term prism and de­rive max­i­mum ben­e­fit from their de­ci­sions. We’ll see next year how they turn out.

For now, the Sabres can say Olof­s­son’s three games thus far in the NHL are show­ing a full sea­son in the AHL was to his ben­e­fit.

Olof­s­son had a strong game in his de­but Thurs­day against Detroit and scored his first NHL goal Satur­day on Long Is­land. He wasn’t as no­tice­able Sun­day, with only one shot on goal while play­ing 17 min­utes, 24 sec­onds.

But it’s tough to get open ice against Colum­bus, which has big mo­bile for­wards and studs like Seth Jones and Zach Weren­ski on de­fense.

“They are skill teams with good play­ers and they made some good plays,” Olof­s­son said of the Blue Jack­ets and New York Is­lan­ders. “If you give them any­thing, it’s go­ing to end up in your net. You have to man­age the puck well.

“You can make some plays start­ing in your own end and things can open up. But if you just start chipping pucks, lift­ing pucks in the neu­tral hard, it’s some­times hard to cre­ate scor­ing chances against them.”

The Amerks need to show some met­tle in the post­sea­son but it won’t be easy with peren­nial ri­vals Syra­cuse and Toronto there to give them trou­ble. Imag­ine if Rochester flames out in Round 1 af­ter the Sabres never used call-ups when they were still in the race – and don’t get the kind of post­sea­son suc­cess they’ve planned for in the AHL.

Olof­s­son knows lots of or­ga­ni­za­tional eyes will be on the prospects’ run.

“I just want to show that I’m ready for this level, so I get a good op­por­tu­nity when I come into train­ing camp to make the team right away,” Olof­s­son said. “I’ve been get­ting the feel of the NHL. … They’ve got more skilled play­ers. I want to bring that back to Roch, stay on this level and help the team there.”

The kids couldn’t do much to pre­vent quite a stinker Sun­day. With the loss closing March at 2-12-2, it was the Sabres’ worst month since their epic 0-12 mark in Jan­uary 2015, that high­lighted the tank sea­son. It was the worst March since a 2-11-1 stinker in 1996.

Most of the crowd left for their se­cond in­ter­mis­sion break and stun­ning num­bers of fans didn’t re­turn for the third pe­riod. Were there even 5,000 left in the build­ing as the strag­glers booed the fi­nal 30 sec­onds off the clock?

With the team trail­ing af­ter the se­cond pe­riod, 4-0, and hav­ing been booed off the ice vo­cif­er­ously en route to fall­ing to 1-12-2 in their last 15, the tone-deaf folks in game pre­sen­ta­tion put to­gether a quick video mon­tage for the se­cond in­ter­mis­sion.

The mu­sic ac­com­pa­ny­ing it? “Sun­day Bloody Sun­day” by U2.

I guess that’s some­one mak­ing a po­lit­i­cal state­ment. Or per­haps look­ing to join Phil Hous­ley on the un­em­ploy­ment line.

Once the mu­sic stopped, Ny­lan­der didn’t get much of a chance in the third pe­riod with the game out of hand. He didn’t have a point for the fifth straight game and didn’t have a shot for the se­cond straight. Of course, it’s tough to do much of any­thing when you’re rel­e­gated to the fourth line with Zem­gus Gir­gen­sons and Jo­han Lars­son and play just 7:24 on the night.

It’s ab­surd. Ny­lan­der played three shifts to­tal­ing 2:13 in the third pe­riod. If Gir­gen­sons and Lars­son are so ter­ri­ble, and they mostly were Sun­day, get Ny­lan­der to an­other line.

Ny­lan­der should be used in a top-6 role to see if he can pro­duce. That would have meant to put him Sun­day with Skinner and Evan Ro­drigues, and move Kyle Ok­poso down to play with Gir­gen­sons and Lars­son.

What’s the point of hav­ing Ny­lan­der here oth­er­wise? If you’re not go­ing to use him, send him back to Rochester on Mon­day and get him ready for the last week of the AHL sea­son and the play­offs.

”It wasn’t so much Ny­lan­der,” Hous­ley said. “I just thought his line­mates weren’t feel­ing it tonight and ob­vi­ously I thought the other lines were go­ing, so I went mostly with the other lines.”

The other lines were go­ing? Please. Af­ter Colum­bus toyed with the Sabres in the first pe­riod, the Jack­ets just kept things un­der wraps on the se­cond half of a back-to-back that started Satur­day in Nashville. This one was no con­test.

Run Ny­lan­der out there and see what he’s got. What else is there to do in th­ese games?

It’s just plain goofy. Like a lot of things are when it comes to this team.

James P. McCoy/Buf­falo News

Sabres right winger Alexan­der Ny­lan­der should be used in a top-6 role to see if he can pro­duce.

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