To this day, when most hockey fans think of Kyle Okposo they think of the New York Islanders.
That's totally understood, especially when you consider that Okposo spent nine seasons with the Isles, wearing the blue and orange 529 times.
On Friday Okposo will play his former team for the first time, when the Buffalo Sabres host the islanders at KeyBank Center.
"It's going to be fun," Okposo told NHL.com on Thursday. "I'm excited to play these guys. I still talk to quite a few of those guys. It's going to be weird playing them, but once we get into the game it's going to be fun."
Okposo was the Sabres big free agent addition in the offseason and so far he's been worth every penny of his $6 million salary. In 28 games Okposo leads the Sabres in both goals (nine) and assists (21). If he stays healthy, Okposo is on pace to finish with 26 goals, 36 assists and 62 points.
Tuesday, we saw Okposo make his debut on a line with Jack Eichel and Evander Kane. As the game progressed Matt Moulson, Okposo's former Islanders teammate, replaced Kane. The trio showed some nice chemistry, and combined for two of the Sabres six goals.
"I've learned how much of a game-breaker he is," Okposo told Joe Yerdon about linemate Jack Eichel. "His explosiveness is something that you hear about and you can see it when you play against him. But when you play with him you notice it every game and you can just see he's capable of beating a guy every time."
After the game Eichel said that Okposo is an easy guy to play with and that he makes space on the ice.
That Eichel goal was unbelievable. Great cycle by Okposo and Eichel to create space and 15 just fired an absolute laser #Sabres
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) December 14, 2016
So What exactly does this mean?
Look at the Sabres fourth goal (Eichel's second goal of the night) for the perfect example. Okposo gets the puck and skates up and down the boards while the Kings follow him closely. While Okposo is skating back and forth Eichel is creeping up the boards. Okposo slides a perfect pass to Eichel, who then peels off the board into an opening and fires a perfect shot. That may be a little confusing, but just watch the play and that'll make more sense:
Yeah so Jack Eichel is good. pic.twitter.com/tL4MARWpEe
— NHL (@NHL) December 14, 2016
Robin Lehner will get the start for the Sabres while Jean-Francois Berube will be in net for the Islanders.
On the blue line, nothing changes for the Sabres (Ristolainen, McCabe, Gorges, Kulikov, Falk and Franson). However, both Zach Bogosian and Taylor Fedun are nearing a return and could play as soon as Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes. If both are healthy than Bogosian will likely take Justin Falk's roster spot. The Sabres will have to send either Falk or Fedun back to Rochester.
Sabres - 28 points (11-11-6, 28 GP)
Islanders - 27 points (11-13-5, 29 GP)
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