Victor Olofsson (68) tries to get through some St. Louis players Dec. 10. ©2020, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres’ Victor Olofsson named NHL’s Rookie of Month for December

BUFFALO – Sabres winger Victor Olofsson, who led all first-year players with six goals and 14 points in 14 games in December, has earned NHL Rookie of the Month honors for the second time this season, the league announced today.

Olofsson, 24, was also named the top rookie for October.

The Swede quickly morphed into a top Calder Trophy candidate this season, scoring six goals in the first seven games. He also set an NHL by becoming the first player to score his first eight goals on the power play.

In December, Olofsson also led all rookies with three power-play goals, five power-play points and tied for first with two-game winning goals.

Olofsson leads all rookie scorers with 16 goals and 34 points in 41 games entering tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers at KeyBank Center.

In other news, coach Ralph Krueger, whose Sabres have lost four straight games, said they’ll dress 12 forwards and seven defensemen for the warm-ups tonight.

The Sabres have often used an extra defenseman this season. Considering forward Evan Rodrigues did not take line rushes this morning and the Sabres placed winger Dalton Smith on waivers today, seven defensemen seems likely.

Goalie Linus Ullmark will start, his 26th nod this season. Ullmark played in Sabres’ 3-2 win Dec. 8 in Edmonton, a game they held superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who rank first and second in NHL scoring, pointless.

McDavid has scored 22 goals and 64 points in 42 games. Draisaitl, meanwhile, has scored 23 goals and 62 points in 42 contests.

Incredibly, Draisaitl is a minus-20 this season.

“The important thing is not to just think about them,” Krueger said of McDavid and Draisaitl. “I mean, they need their teammates and linemates to be successful. I think it’s definitely our team game that give us a chance. So we need to reach for that.

“They are as strong up the middle maybe as any team we’ve seen here with McDavid, Draisaitl, (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) and Gaetan Haas. That’s a really good group up the middle. We’ll see them here and there together or on power play, McDavid and Draisaitl, but I think it’s more important to concentrate on our team game.”

The Oilers, not surprisingly, showcase the NHL’s top power play, converting 30.2% of their opportunities.

They could exploit the Sabres, whose penalty killing ranks 28th. They’ve allowed two goals in each of the last two games.

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