BUFFALO – Casey Mittelstadt understands why he was scratched. The Sabres center knows he played poorly in Saturday afternoon’s 6-5 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
The Sabres have forward depth again, so Mittelstadt, who has scored one goal in the last 21 games, sat out Sunday’s 3-2 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers.
“It’s not a secret I didn’t play well in Vancouver,” Mittelstadt said this morning. “Yeah, you want to play every game, and I’m happy to be back in the lineup tonight.”
After getting benched for the first time this year, Mittelstadt will return for tonight’s game against the St. Louis Blues at KeyBank Center.
Mittelstadt, 21, has struggled much of this season, his second full NHL campaign, compiling four goals and nine points in 30 contests.
On Saturday, he was a minus-2 and played under 10 minutes for the first time since Oct. 11.
“There was a couple defensive things that I’ve kind of been better at this year,” Mittelstadt said. “I thought I slipped a little bit in that situation, but I don’t think it’s a secret. Obviously, I didn’t get much of a rhythm going. I didn’t think it was my best game.”
Mittelstadt, the eighth overall pick in 2018, tried to embrace sitting out.
“You watch a little bit of film, have a nice talk with the coach,” he said. “I think it’s nice to watch a game from up top, too. I think you’re always playing and you get stuck in it, and you kind of get to watch from up top and see the whole rink and see where there’s some room, figure out what you would do in certain situations.”
Mittelstadt, who had been playing wing, shifted back to center this morning between Jeff Skinner and Evan Rodrigues.
Don’t be surprised if Mittelstadt keeps switching positions.
“For a lot of young centermen, the way into the National Hockey League is by spotting back and forth between actually being exposed to center and playing the wing where you can just play a little bit freer offensively,” Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. “Now, within our system you need to be responsible both ways. But I think for Casey, it’s good for him to switch back and forth as we walk through this season depending on the opposition, depending on the type of matchups we feel we’ll be getting on the evening.”