The Sabres new line shows immediate chemistry.

February 08, 2018 - 8:41 pm

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - It’s interesting that Jack Eichel and Evan Rodrigues have never played on a line together in the NHL. In Eichel’s only season at BU, he scored 26 goals and 45 assists for 71 points. Rodrigues had 21 goals and 40 assists for 61 points in 41 games.

Phil Housley said he’s just looking for anything that might provide some chemistry and maybe he’s found some.

The line didn’t have a good start as Eichel gave the puck away at the Islander blue line and they quickly sprung Jordan Eberle in alone. Robin Lehner came out and played it perfectly and Eberle just skated by the net without getting a shot.

It took this line and the team 7:41 to get their first shot against the NHL’s worst defensive team, but they made it count. Sam Reinhart took a nice breakout pass from Casey Nelson and came through the neutral zone with speed. Three Islanders converged on him and he slid it over to a streaking Eichel on the right wing. Eichel picked the far, top corner on Jaroslav Halak.

The line wasn’t through as Rodrigues set up in front of the net. Marco Scandella ripped a bullet off the back wall and it came right in front to Rodrigues who scored his first goal in 22 games.

The line wasn’t all offense. In the first period, Rodrigues came back to the circles to break up a play to Anders Lee. Right after he took the puck, Eichel hammered Lee.

Reinhart and Rodrigues worked a give and go in the second period that would’ve made you think they’ve played together for years. It didn’t result in a goal, but it did result in Sebastian Aho taking a hooking penalty. That led to Ryan O’Reilly’s power play goal.

It wasn’t all rosy for the line. Reinhart gave the pack away inside the zone which led to a 2-on-1. Robin Lehner made a big save.

In the third period, Rodrigues had another good defensive play getting in the passing lane to intercept what looked like a dangerous play.

Reinhart had a crisp breakout pass to Eichel who sprinted through the slot to setup Reinhart who had kept going to the net.

Being on the left side, Rodrigues is on his off wing. He told me he’s much more comfortable over there, but a few times he had trouble getting the puck off the wall and out.

Eichel took a tripping penalty with 6:28 left. Anders Lee jammed one home from the side of the net which allowed the Islanders to come all the way back from being down 3-0.

The Eichel line came out with fire after the game was tied and just 1:13 later, they got into the zone and dominated. Eichel's shot from the right point went to Rodrigues. Reinhart found the rebound and the Sabres got their win.

For the game, the line combined for three goals and four assists for seven points. Eichel had a goal and an assist in 17:41 of work. Eichel had five shots on goal and won six of nine faceoffs. Reinhart had a goal and two assists in 15:03 of playing time. Reinhart had two shots. Rodrigues played 11:04 picking up a goal and an assist. He had two shots on goal.

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