Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) -- Despite scoring 12 goals in 58 games, it has not been an easy season for Matt Moulson. The winger is on a pace for 17 goals, but nine of his 12 goals this season have come on the power play.
Buffalo has the number one power play in the NHL, but it’s close to the bottom of the league in 5-on-5 goals. Moulson started the season in the top six forwards, but for the past few months, he’s played mostly on the 4th line averaging just 11:37 per game.
Moulson spent the summer getting himself in great shape and of course, he’s disappointed he doesn’t play more, “It’s tough, you want to be out there contributing, so we have to mentally be ready to go at any point.”
Inside a game Moulson might play with seven or eight of the 11 forwards. He said at times he can roll with it, “It depends, we have a lot of good players on this team so it’s easy to play with the guys out there, but when you get out there, there are different situations and it’s easier to play with different guys, so just mentally I have to be ready to go whenever it’s my turn to go.”
“I still know I can be successful in this league so I keep working at it, it’s not something you just do over the summer, its consistent day in and day out of working and trying to get better each day on the ice and off the ice.”
One thing I’ve noticed this season is Moulson is always staying late after practice working on his game with Ryan O’Reilly. Some of the younger players have abandoned the O’Reilly practice, but Moulson keeps working at his game.
I have seen an attitude change from the players the past two games. After both wins, each player on the postgame show has said it means nothing unless they win the next game and the one after that. Moulson said they sat down as a team and did some soul searching, “I think earlier on, even maybe a month ago we were maybe getting too high after a win or too low after a loss rather than just taking it game by game.”
“A win really doesn’t mean anything unless you win the next one or win the next one after that, so we know we have to put together a string of wins to get to that playoff mark and I think that’s where we’re at right now saying, ‘OK, it’s great we won, but we’re moving on to the next one'.”
Buffalo has won two in a row and four out of six games. In 2017 they’re 12-8-2 which is a point percentage of .591. A 94 point pace is a point percentage of .573.
The Sabres enter Friday three points behind Toronto for the East’s final Wild Card position. They’re four in back of Boston for third place in the Atlantic Division, but don’t forget, the bye week starts on Monday and Buffalo will not play for five days while other teams are picking up points.
At 58 games, the Sabres have played the most games in the Eastern Conference along with the Bruins, Canadiens and Flyers.
Cody Franson said he’s way ahead of schedule with his ankle injury and has been cleared to play. Dan Bylsma said, “He’s had three good days of practice, so we should see him on the weekend.”
Missing from the short practice at HarborCenter on Friday were Derek Grant, Evander Kane, Will Carrier, Zemgus Girgensons and Dmitry Kulikov. Bylsma said Kane had low energy from being sick, but is ok.
As far as Grant goes, Bylsma said the news is good, “Grant had a shoulder evaluation which was a good one. He still has some strength issues there and is unlikely for the weekend.”
Kulikov got a maintenance day to rest and Girgensons has skated the past few days, but is not able to return to contact which will last through the break.
Bylsma said Carrier skated Friday morning, but is still dealing with the bone bruise.
St. Louis is in Saturday for a 1:05 faceoff. Join Pat Malacaro for the pregame starting at noon when he’ll be joined by Dan Bylsma, Matt Moulson and Cody Franson.