Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo knows he can’t take much solace in feeling he played a good game. Through 15 outings this year, the veteran has scored zero goals.
“This is a results-based business, and I understand that playing good gets you nowhere in this industry if the results aren’t there,” a frustrated Okposo said on a Zoom call following Tuesday’s 3-2 road loss to the New York Rangers.
Okposo, 32, nearly scored his first goal early in Tuesday’s contest. But after Sabres winger Taylor Hall adroitly fed him in the slot, goalie Igor Shesterkin stymied his two point-blank chances.
At least Okposo, whose Sabres play a road game tonight against the New York Islanders, has started generating opportunities. He also had a prime scoring chance Sunday afternoon, nearly beating Philadelphia Flyers goalie Carter Hart in close.
Okposo’s Corsi For on Tuesday – the percentage of shot attempts by the team while a player is on the ice five-on-five – was 64.7%, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.
After spending all season on the third line beside center Cody Eakin, Okposo has played the last two games on the second trio with Hall and Eric Staal.
Okposo, of course, acknowledged his scoring struggles are “frustrating.” Still, he feels he has started rebuilding his game following a wretched start.
The lower-body injury he suffered in the final training camp scrimmage sidelined him the first five games. He was also dealing with an undisclosed ailment, Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said.
The injuries, combined with the 10-month layoff for the COVID-19 pandemic, made Okposo invisible when he returned. He recorded just one shot in his first six contests.
But Okposo, who’s often critical of his own play, refuses to let his scoring woes overwhelm him.
“It’s something that I’ve just been trying to reset every game and bring my best every game,” said Okposo, who has mustered just one assist this seaon. “I mean, it’s one thing if I feel like I’m not playing well; I know when I’m not playing well, and the first five games I did not play well. And I feel like since the (COVID-19 pause last month) I’ve been playing better but the results just aren’t coming.
“As a competitor, as somebody that’s relied on, that’s a difficult thing. It’s not easy, but it’s not like I’m going to give up and it’s not like I’m not going to give it my best. I know that this is going to turn, it has to. I just got to keep my head down and keep doing the right things and trust that it will turn.”
Sabres winger Jeff Skinner, who was a healthy scratch three times last week, enjoyed perhaps his best game this season Tuesday, generating a splendid 87.5% Corsi For.
Despite his struggles – zero goals in 17 games – Skinner has showcased some strong chemistry at times on the fourth line beside center Curtis Lazar and Riley Sheahan.
The line had a 90.9% Corsi For on Tuesday.
Krueger said the trio exploited the Rangers’ the second- and third-pair defensemen.
“Jeff had some grade-As today that will certainly give him confidence, although he’s frustrated that he didn’t finish,” Krueger said of the scoring chances. “But, again, he’s got to get the chances first. It all stems from the compete he showed, the battles he won and the fight for the inside position. (He) wanted to be first on pucks.
“It was really encouraging, what Jeff showed us today.”
The Sabres had Wednesday off.
One thought on “Sabres’ Kyle Okposo knows he must start scoring: ‘A results-based business’”
As a fan, it’s painful to watch Okposo because it’s obvious he can’t do it anymore. Paying someone $6 million who can’t do it anymore is a big sign that management is incompetent. But for Okposo, the sting of not being able to play anymore might not be such bitter pill to swallow because of the megabucks…but for us, believe me…we hate passengers.