There's no denying that Jack Eichel is one of the most important, if not the most important, players on the Buffalo Sabres -- but just how big of an impact has he made early on this season?
Let's look at the numbers:
*Note* -- this is still an incredibly small sample size, but the numbers are impressive.
The Buffalo Sabres have played 27 games so far this season and find themselves in last place in the Eastern Conference with 26 points (10-11-6). After suffering a high-ankle sprain the day before the start of the regular season, the Sabres played without Eichel for their first 21 games.
During that stretch the Sabres went 7-8-5. Since returning, the Sabres with Eichel in the lineup have gone 3-2-1 in his first six games of the season.
But here's where it gets even more startling -- during Buffalo's first 21 games, the Sabres averaged just 1.85 goals per game (39 goals in 21 games). In the Sabres last six games they've scored 17 goals, averaging 2.83 goals per game. That's astonishing -- and while 2.83 goals is still not unbelievable, it's certainly better than a lousy 1.85 goals per game.
Eichel himself has scored three goals and tallied two asssits (five points) in his first six games -- but his presence goes far beyond those numbers. Sure, Eichel has cooled off a bit since his hot start -- but he's still making an impact every game, while at the same time making the players around him even better.
I'm curious to see how Eichel and Kane will play alongside Kyle Okposo, assuming he plays against the Kings, but I think the trio will thrive. Okposo currently leads the Sabres with 18 points in 26 games (9G, 9A).
Robin Lehner will get the start for the Buffalo Sabres while Peter Budaj will be in between the pipes for the Kings. Los Angeles is led by Jeff Carter who has 22 points (12G, 10A) and Drew Doughty, who is one of the top-scoring defenders in the leage with 15 points (5G, 10A).