Sabres' Reinhart is having an excellent 2018

March 08, 2018 - 9:29 pm

Ottawa, ON (WGR 550) - Sam Reinhart had 23 goals and 42 points in his rookie season and last year, he had 17 goals and 47 points. This season Reinhart has 38 points and is on a pace for 46. I’ve always thought he could do better than that and after a year in a half of poor play, things weren’t looking good for him.

The calendar turned to 2018 and everything changed. In 30 games in 2018 Reinhart has 12 goals and 15 assists for 27 points. Over 82 games that works out to 33 goals and 41 assists for 74 points. Phil Housley said he’s seen a change, “He’s just determined right now and a lot has to do with his confidence, but the thing I really like is the defensive awareness and right now, his instincts are taking over.”

Reinhart said it all starts with coming up ice, “I think on the perimeter I’ve had the puck more and coming through the neutral zone, I’ve been hanging onto it more and it’s probably led to better looks.”

With Jack Eichel injured, Reinhart has been on the right wing with Ryan O’Reilly. The centerman said, “He does a great job and that’s where his IQ takes over too, it helps him make plays and makes his line mates look good.

Reinhart has done a much better job of getting to the net and O’Reilly said, “It’s amazing, he always seems to be there. He’s so strong in front, the guys can’t seem to get him out of there and obviously he has great hand-eye too."

The thing that most impressed me about Reinhart his rookie season was how smart he was. He was the best on the team at thinking the game, but it went away for over a season. Reinhart said, “All the times you ask ‘What are you really thinking on the ice,’ if I can tell you, it’s probably not a good thing. My game is going out playing, reading and reacting.”

When Reinhart was drafted by the Sabres, standing in front of the net tipping pucks wasn’t his game, but it is now, “Probably not to be honest. I’ve never been net-front on a power play until year one, growing up I was always half-wall or middle.

“In terms of 5-on-5, the puck’s going to go there eventually. So it’s crept into my game and I try to use that.”

Reinhart started the Ottawa game with O’Reilly and Benoit Pouliot. He played 5:49 in the period, but was a little limited because of two penalty kills.

His first shift was stellar as he feathered a pass in front to a wide open O’Reilly who put it over the top of the net.

Reinhart had a golden opportunity crashing the net off an O’Reilly rebound, but was stopped by Craig Anderson.

The Sabres sometimes have trouble with their power play entries, but he did a real good job along the wall bringing the puck in.

The second period was awful for the team, but it’s good they had Reinhart because he continued to work.

With the score 2-1 Ottawa, Casey Nelson came in deep and he and Reinhart won their battles. Reinhart came out with the puck and found Pouliot in front. Anderson stopped him, but Reinhart was right at the top of the crease to tap home his 17th.

On their first shift of the period, Reinhart made a good play off the wall to send away Pouliot who was stopped by Anderson.

Reinhart was also stopped by Anderson on the backend of a 2-on-1 one-timer.

After 40 minutes Reinhart played 12:06 with three shots and three hits.

In the third, Scott Wilson took Pouliot's place and it paid off in just 27 seconds. Reinhart caused a turnover on the left wing wall and got it in behind the net to O'Reilly. He fed Wilson in front and the game was quickly tied.

The Sabres went to a shootout for only the second time this season and Reinhart scored along with Jacob Josefson to win it. Robin Lehner stopped two of three shots breaking a horrible streak for him. He hadn't won a shootout in two years.

Reinhart's effort got him the second star of the game. He played 20:36 and had a goal and an assist. Reinhart had four shots on goal and four hits in another great game for him.

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