Skin­ner’s con­tract status un­known

The Buffalo News - - NHL -

“Our line played pretty well. We cre­ated some chances and it was a good bounce off the boards there,” Skin­ner said. “The frus­trat­ing part is part of my job is to pro­duce of­fen­sively and con­trib­ute to the team that way and help the team win that way. I haven’t been do­ing that.”

Imagine how tough the last few weeks have been for Skin­ner.

He suf­fered that hor­rid look­ing an­kle or knee prob­lem in the game against Wash­ing­ton on Feb. 23 and sud­denly stopped scor­ing. You can’t au­to­mat­i­cally say the two are re­lated ei­ther be­cause Skin­ner has still been get­ting plenty of shots on goal – with 57 com­ing in one 16-game stretch where he scored only one goal.

“Skinny has done that all year for us,” Ok­poso said. “I know the puck hasn’t gone in for him lately but he’s al­ways there, al­ways around it.”

“It’s good. That line re­ally played well for us,” said coach Phil Hous­ley. “It’s good to see Jeff fi­nally find the back of the net. He’s had his op­por­tu­ni­ties and you can see how im­por­tant his goal scor­ing is for our team. We’re right there un­til the end.

While the Sabres have been his­tor­i­cally cra­ter­ing with one win in 16 games, the Carolina Hur­ri­canes have be­come a talk­ing point in the league.

They’re look­ing like a good bet to go to the play­offs for the first time since 2009. Skin­ner played in his 659th ca­reer game Tues­day night and he’s the ac­tive leader in games played with­out mak­ing the play­offs.

And now his old team -- the one he put ev­ery­thing on the line for over eight sea­sons be­fore they fool­ishly dumped him in August – could be go­ing to the post­sea­son with­out him.

“For me, my fo­cus is here. I’m on the Sabres. I’m part of the team and ob­vi­ously we didn’t reach our goal,” Skin­ner said. “We still have two games to battle, work for each other and com­pete out there and try to win. That’s what you try to do. You’re an ath­lete. Ev­ery­one in here is com­pet­i­tive. No one likes where we are.”

And no one knows where Skin­ner is with his new con­tract as well. He’s prob­a­bly cost himself a good chunk of change with this slump as a 54-goal scorer would ob­vi­ously get quite a bit more coin.

Skin­ner and the Sabres aren’t do­ing any ne­go­ti­at­ing in the me­dia for a long-term ex­ten­sion but it’s safe to say most out­side ob­servers fig­ured this would be done a long time ago.

It will be in­ter­est­ing to see if the Sabres’ sec­ond-half col­lapse will sway Skin­ner’s mind.

Tues­day’s game was the kind of ef­fort that Skin­ner and the Sabres should have been pro­duc­ing much more of­ten. They were out­manned against a su­pe­rior team but didn’t wilt when ad­ver­sity struck. About time.

New Ni­a­gara coach Pa­trick Beilein and his fa­ther, Michi­gan coach John Beilein, were in a suite watch­ing on Pa­trick Beilein’s first day on Mon­tea­gle Ridge. Pa­trick Beilein promised a Sabres win Tues­day morn­ing and what seemed like an out­landish throw­away line given the qual­ity of the op­po­nent wasn’t so far-fetched af­ter all.

Clearly, the younger Beilein does not lack for op­ti­mism, a trait he’ll need in turn­ing around the Pur­ple Ea­gles. And he got re­warded by see­ing what was eas­ily the Sabres’ best ef­fort against a good team since the shootout win over St. Louis 2

1/2 weeks ago.

The Sabres were hard to play against, with 21 hits to Nashville’s 13. The shots on goal (35-28) and shot at­tempts (62-57) both fa­vored the Preda­tors, but hardly by a huge mar­gin.

So it was in­fu­ri­at­ing to Hous­ley that the Sabres were on the short end of two key calls in the game. Craig Smith’s first-pe­riod goal to open the scor­ing might have been di­rected in with a high stick but the NHL ruled as “in­con­clu­sive” re­plays that clearly showed the puck hit­ting Smith’s stick on the shaft be­tween his hands. With­out a rul­ing it hit the stick, a high stick­ing de­ter­mi­na­tion was point­less.

In the sec­ond pe­riod, Conor Sheary scored to ap­par­ently pull the Sabres into a 2-2 tie but of­fi­cials pre­ma­turely whis­tled the play on a de­layed penalty to Nashville’s Ryan Jo­hansen.

It was a ter­ri­ble call be­cause the only Preda­tor who touched the puck was goalie Pekka Rinne, and that was to make a save and not earn pos­ses­sion.

“It’s frus­trat­ing be­cause we got screwed,” Hous­ley said point­edly be­fore call­ing the dis­al­lowed goal “mind­bog­gling”. He was dead right. Imagine if the Sabres were in a play­off race. As it is, calls that went the Preda­tors’ way aren’t go­ing to be looked at too kindly in places like Win­nipeg or St. Louis.

Noth­ing go­ing the Sabres’ way for a long time. Kind of fit­ting for this sea­son.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.