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Eye on the C — shift by shift breakdown of Eichel's game on Long Island


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With all the chatter about Jack, I thought I'd better take a look-see for myself. Honest disclosure: with the idea floating around that Eichel's game is in disarray, there might be a slight bias in my observations toward negative plays, though I tried very hard to see the best in his night as well. I might have even tried too hard, so maybe the bias is in the other direction.

 

First period

Loses opening faceoff cleanly to Nelson. Fights for the puck along the left wing wall in the Islander zone and taps it to Reinhart, who can't control it. Zone cleared. Finishes shift by twice executing a strong forecheck. Shift grade: B.

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Drops another draw to start his shift. Rushes into the NYI zone but loses the puck. Skates hard on the backcheck, chasing Bailey down the left wing. Shift grade: C.

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In a scrum on the right wing wall in the Buffalo zone, Eichel tries to clear off the boards, but the puck goes directly to Pulock at the right point for the pass across and the drive (royalty PayPal-ed to Doc Emrick). Shift grade: D.

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Lead pass from his own blue line to Reinhart goes off 23's stick, and the Sabres have to retreat. Sabres start to press, and Eichel grabs the rebound in the left wing corner and sends the puck up the boards, missing Miller. Coasts slowly to the bench. Shift grade: C.

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Sabres power play. Eichel wins the draw; Varlamov save on Dahlin. Pass from the left edge of the left circle to the other edge is in Hall's skates. Feathers pass to Olofsson at the bottom of the right circle, with 68 looking to make a tic tac toe pass to Reinhart at the left post — but it's blocked and cleared. Fans cleanly on shot from the top of the right circle (brings puck back and loses control), and Isles rush down the ice. Stops skating on the backcheck, standing almost straight up as the puck is sent to the front of the Buffalo net. Drifts to the bench again. "Jack Eichel has turned the puck over three times so far in this first period inside the Islanders' blue line," Rob Ray notes. Shift grade: D.

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Backhand scoop pass springs Olofsson out of the Sabres' zone. Shift grade: C.

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Wins o-zone faceoff against Martin, setting up a quick shot by Olofsson from the top of the left circle, the first of several impressive glove saves by Varlamov. Isles ice it. Loses subsequent draw in the right circle. Steals drop pass inside Sabres' line and feeds Reinhart through center. Platters Dahlin for a one-timer in the high slot, but the shot is blocked. Pilfers pass at center ice and sends the puck back into his own zone. Shift grade: A.

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(Sabres take 1-0 lead on Lazar's goal.)

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Blocks centering pass by Cizikas with Martin cruising down the slot. Works hard in the left wing corner before tapping a loose puck weakly to Cizikas, who dishes the point as the Isles press in the final minute. Olofsson dangles through center, leading to a fast-developing two on one with Reinhart. Trailing Eichel seems to stop skating and gets bumped away from a caroming puck in the high slot by Clutterbuck. Isles rush back, and Eichel and Olofsson let up while Reinhart keeps his legs going. Martin shot from in-tight is saved by Ullmark. Shift grade: D.

First period grade: C. When Rob Ray rags on you, it's a bad sign.

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Second period

Gives puck away to Beauvillier on the left wing half wall of the Buffalo zone. Lead pass from same spot misses Mittelstadt badly and ends up on Mayfield's stick. Barzal lifts Eichel's stick in the right wing corner of the Sabres' zone, and Eichel sends the puck to an Islander at the point. But Barzal takes a penalty for tripping Eichel in the process. Shift grade: D.

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After an almost one-minute shift, Eichel is back out to take and win a faceoff to the right of Varlamov. Feeds Dahlin at center point for a one timer off Varlamov's glove. Cruises to the top of the left circle, and with all of Sabreland shrieking SHOOOOT!!!!, he does — and puts it cleanly off the left post. Tries to cut to the slot but is easily pushed to the ice by Mayfield. Shift grade: C.

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(Isles tie game at 1.)

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Loses faceoff cleanly. Passes crisply up the left wing wall of the Sabres' zone to Reinhart, who loses the puck to Pelech. Stabs puck off stick of Pageau at the top of the Sabres' right circle. Shift grade: B.

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Skates hard to get to Pulock at center and uses his reach to foil a pass meant for opposite Islander D. Steals puck at center, skates into the zone, throws some snow and connects with Reinhart for a tip shot. Shift grade: A.

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After icing, Eichel loses another faceoff, this time to the right of Varlamov. Isles clear. Behind Ullmark, Eichel puts the puck off of an Islander. While falling at center after a little shove in the back, backhands puck to Olofsson at the Isles' line. Forechecks strongly along with Olofsson, but the Isles again clear. Shift grade: C.

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Loses faceoff to the right of the Buffalo goal, leading to a Pulock one-timer and an Ullmark save. Has a clear step on Pelech at the red line with only one Isle to beat but is easily caught. Then tries to go around Pulock at the right dot and loses the puck. Knocked off the puck behind net by Pulock, stumbles and does the Reinhart helmet adjustment. Point blank save by Ullmark with Eichel late getting back and on cruise control. Shift grade: F.

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After doing a drive by of Nelson at center, leading to a scoring chance for the Isles, carries the puck into NY zone and drops it for Dahlin. Shift grade: C.

Second period grade: C. A little better in spots and some bad luck, but Eichel earns another middling grade.

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Third period

Loses opening faceoff. Grabs puck behind the net, sprints out and cleanly gives it away to Pulock for the right back in (cha-ching, Doc). Pass connects with Olofsson at the Isles' line. Drifts to bench again. Shift grade: D.

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(Islanders move into a 2-1 lead.)

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Loses draw. Solid backcheck on Nelson as the Isle drives to the left side of the Buffalo net. Puts his right shoulder into Pulock down the right wall of the NY zone, a rare physical engagement on the night by Eichel. Turns loose puck over for a Pelech shot from the top of the left circle. Shift grade: B.

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Sabres PP. Wins faceoff. Shot from near the left dot goes off Pulock with Reinhart setting the screen, and the puck goes out to center. On Take Two, edge to edge pass to Hall in the left circle this time is on target, and Hall just misses the left post. Feeds Dahlin before Reinhart lacrosses a remarkable Goal of the Year candidate to tie the game at 2. Shift grade: A.

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Carries to the Islander line, and pass toward Reinhart is off the mark and knocked down by Bailey. Shift grade: C.

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For a second shift in a row, speeds off the bench and into the corner of the offensive zone. After icing, easily loses faceoff to the right of Varlamov. Strong backcheck on Pageau, then carries into NY zone before tossing it to the middle of the ice onto Clutterbuck's stick. Backhands puck into feet of Reinhart just inside the Islander line. Shift grade: C.

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Inside of 10 minutes, the game and the individual performance are still salvageable. Loses yet another draw. Deftly avoids an Islander to maneuver below the goal line, check the puck off the stick of Pulock and feed Olofsson at the bottom left circle for a shot that just misses. Keeps Isle from breaking out on the right side, then knocks the puck down at the left point for the keep-in and the carry-on (I'm going broke here). Shift grade: A.

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Isles on the peeper. Takes a shift with about 45 seconds to kill and watches from the high slot as Islanders go up 3-2. Shift grade: C.

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Flies off the bench to check Beauvillier along the left wing boards of the NY zone. Hall then sends the loose puck to the front of net, but Cozens can't convert. Bumped into the boards at the left point and gives the puck away again. Chops the puck away from Pelech at Buffalo's center point with the Isles buzzing. Shift grade: B.

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Empty Buffalo net. Shoots the puck into Varlamov's glove from center. Easy clear for NY. Fights through check of Pageau and one-hands the puck to Olofsson on left wing. Pad save by Varlamov on Olofsson with Eichel weakly driving the slot. After a timeout, Staal takes the faceoff. On a scramble draw, Olofsson helps out and taps to Eichel at the left point with 25 to go. Makes a sharp backhand pass to Dahlin at the center point. Eichel one-timer from above the left circle near the boards hits Reinhart to the left of Varlamov. Game ovah. Shift grade: D.

Third period grade: C (might as well be consistent). Uneven performance with Ullmark pulled perfectly summarized Jack's night, which was the definition of meh.

Game grade: You know. C. Befitting for the Sabres' captain. This was Eichel's worst night on the dot this season, which has been the best of his career in that department. Jack hasn't been getting a lot of shots on goal in recent games, and this was no exception, with only three. After hitting that left post, Eichel remains stuck on two goals for the year, with none in seven games. Now mere points are getting hard to come by. Ice time of 23:01 was among his most this season, so no complaints there.

He'd better be hurt and RaKru better be hiding it for whatever reason. If this is Healthy Eichel, this is truly a crisis for the Sabres franchise.

Edited by PASabreFan
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Nice work.

The lack of authority with which he is moving and protecting the puck (feeding the high number of turnovers) are the in-game manifestations, but the most troubling thing is the body language.

The number of times he projects '(deep sigh), what's the point' on a turnover, a rush, a puck battle, a backcheck, or even skating to the bench tells me his mindset has approached Sabrespace levels of fatigue.

Have you seen this dramatization of Jack's career?

 

Edited by dudacek
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All seems fair. I haven't been all aboard the "Jack has given up" train that's been rolling around here, but I don't think he's played well. Last night I thought he played particularly poorly, maybe his worst game of the year. I still don't think it's the result of a lack of effort, but at the end of the day bad performances aren't helping get the fans back on your side or wins for the team.

With that said, if that snipe on the PP was a quarter inch to the right, things would have a different feeling today. Hockey, I suppose. 

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9 minutes ago, fiftyone said:

All seems fair. I haven't been all aboard the "Jack has given up" train that's been rolling around here, but I don't think he's played well. Last night I thought he played particularly poorly, maybe his worst game of the year. I still don't think it's the result of a lack of effort, but at the end of the day bad performances aren't helping get the fans back on your side or wins for the team.

With that said, if that snipe on the PP was a quarter inch to the right, things would have a different feeling today. Hockey, I suppose. 

I'm coming around to the idea that randomness and luck rule in hockey and it's all being coordinated by the Hockey Gods.

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12 minutes ago, dudacek said:

Nice work.

The lack of authority with which he is moving and protecting the puck (feeding the high number of turnovers) are the in-game manifestations, but the most troubling thing is the body language.

The number of times he projects '(deep sigh), what's the point' on a turnover, a rush, a puck battle, a backcheck, or even skating to the bench tells me his mindset has approached Sabrespace levels of fatigue.

Have you seen this dramatization of Jack's career?

 

I can't say I saw a lot of that in my "film work." The coasting, yes. He did stand straight up behind the Isles' goal line (must have been the second period) after something didn't work out. The play went back down the ice, and he had to go from that very non-athletic stance to skating hard with his head down. It was Herb Brooks-ish moment.

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Across an 82 game schedule, Eichel is on track for 11 goals. How many one goal games have we lost?

Eichel - 11

Hall - 5

Skinner - 0

Okposo - 0

The issue with this team isn’t the defence, goalies or cheap forwards. Those four players combine for $33.5 million and would be on track for 16 goals in a normal season.

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1 hour ago, PASabreFan said:

 

He'd better be hurt and RaKru better be hiding it for whatever reason. If this is Healthy Eichel, this is truly a crisis for the Sabres franchise.

I don't think he is hurt. It's a mental thing if you ask me,. But the mental aspect of game can be fixed, I hope 

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40 minutes ago, PASabreFan said:

I'm coming around to the idea that randomness and luck rule in hockey and it's all being coordinated by the Hockey Gods.

Hall hitting the inside of goalpost last night and having it bounce out...

 

We pissed off some God somewhere. We should hire a priest or witch doctor to perform an exorcism on the team 

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19 minutes ago, Trettioåtta said:

Across an 82 game schedule, Eichel is on track for 11 goals. How many one goal games have we lost?

Eichel - 11

Hall - 5

Skinner - 0

Okposo - 0

The issue with this team isn’t the defence, goalies or cheap forwards. Those four players combine for $33.5 million and would be on track for 16 goals in a normal season.

Ralph.”I’ll coach some defence into these guys ! Who gives a damn about the season.”

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Hall, Eichel, Skinner, etc... will have breakout games here in the very near future.    You can see the scoring chances growing, it's just a matter of time... a couple big games from those guys and they're back on track.     Eichel will score early one of these games and snap out of his funk.    Dahlin is due for a breakout game as well.   It's coming.       

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Totally my opinion, but Jack reminds me of someone who has always had the game come easy for him. Always the best and most talented growing up, through college, the kind of player who excelled on minimal effort.  Say, like someone who's smart enough to not study and till ace the test. Now, he's in the NHL and he's no longer the best player. The work ethic and ability to overcome adversity isn't there because he's never had to face it.  He just expects to cruise and everything will go his way as it always has. You're in the big leagues now, time to get your big boy breezers on, dig deep and find the heart and desire to lead and be better.  Eichel is this generations Rick Nash.

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He was one of the worst Sabres in the game last night.

I feel like I saw very specific things that suggest he is injured.

He normally skates around with players hanging on his back and it's not problem for him.  He hasn't done anything like that lately.  

He has been getting steered around by defenders which almost never happens.

I think there's a lot to suggest he is injured in some way...

But then we have Ralph's odd comments after the game saying emphatically that he is not injured and has a confidence problem.

It's a weird situation.

 

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3 goals in his last 23 games. 

2 even strength goal in his last 31 games. 

If he's hurt, he's always hurt, so it's not a possibility I look to often/take much hope in, particularly when the coach says he's not. 

Edited by Thorny
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Does anyone else get the sense from watching JE play that he seems uninterested? Honestly, if rumors were true that he is unhappy in BFLO, then it is showing. He just doesn't seem to care enough on the ice. Turnovers, mistakes, missed shots, his overall play suggests he's not trying because he doesn't care. Or doesn't believe  his efforts with this team will result in wins. It may be his way of either playing into a trade or forcing a change in coach. As lifelong fan of this team, and hockey in general, I do not believe RK is NHL material and needs to go now. This team needs a coach who can get the players attention and can install a system that benefits the players on the ice. There is too much talent on this team for them to be struggling this much at scoring. I don't have an idea of a good replacement coach, as I have honestly lost a lot of interest in the NHL of late with the Sabres poor play. 

Edited by Fallsnative01
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2 even strength goals in 31 games. 

Matthews has at 2 at ES in his last 4. 

Matthews has 16 even strength goals in his last 31.

Edited by Thorny
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2 hours ago, LouBrawls said:

Totally my opinion, but Jack reminds me of someone who has always had the game come easy for him. Always the best and most talented growing up, through college, the kind of player who excelled on minimal effort.  Say, like someone who's smart enough to not study and till ace the test. Now, he's in the NHL and he's no longer the best player. The work ethic and ability to overcome adversity isn't there because he's never had to face it.  He just expects to cruise and everything will go his way as it always has. You're in the big leagues now, time to get your big boy breezers on, dig deep and find the heart and desire to lead and be better.  Eichel is this generations Rick Nash.

This is a strange take.  He has been in the NHL for several years already.  Something is different this year.

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1 minute ago, Curt said:

This is a strange take.  He has been in the NHL for several years already.  Something is different this year.

It happens, though - just off the top of my head, Giroux was a shell of himself from 15-17 - then he bounced back. Jack could easily look like a completely different player for reasons other than injury. 

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One thing I said about Jack, and it applies for most of his career...he is one of the slowest fast guys I have seen. I understand it might be the way he chooses to play...but we hear about how fast he is...in the fastest skater competition he is usually just a fraction behind the leaders/winners....but he doesn't show it all that much.

McDavid, McKinnon....other guys known for their speed...when I watch them play it seems like 2,3, maybe 4 times per game they take the puck and just decide they are going to use their top-end speed and blow by people, and they are often successful.  That doesn't happen much with Eichel.

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Just now, mjd1001 said:

One thing I said about Jack, and it applies for most of his career...he is one of the slowest fast guys I have seen. I understand it might be the way he chooses to play...but we hear about how fast he is...in the fastest skater competition he is usually just a fraction behind the leaders/winners....but he doesn't show it all that much.

McDavid, McKinnon....other guys known for their speed...when I watch them play it seems like 2,3, maybe 4 times per game they take the puck and just decide they are going to use their top-end speed and blow by people, and they are often successful.  That doesn't happen much with Eichel.

It used to happen. The last season or so, not so much.

On a side note, the few times he has done it, I envision him screaming "for love of the game" as he flies through the neutral zone....... 🙂

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