BUFFALO – In the AHL, Seth Griffith morphs into a different player. Over the past three seasons, the Sabres winger has been one of the league’s most lethal scorers, compiling 47 goals and 155 points in 131 outings.
During Griffith’s early-season NHL run, he mustered only two goals and three points in 18 games. Then, not surprisingly, he went on a tear with the Rochester Americans, scoring 13 goals and 34 points in 36 contests.
“Some (AHL) games I can handle the puck the entire game it feels like,” Griffith said prior to Wednesday’s 5-1 loss to the Calgary Flames. “But my goal is to do stuff like that up here.”
Griffith, 25, said three months in the AHL boosted his confidence. He impressed the Sabres enough they recalled him again last week. He played two games, his first NHL appearances since late November, before getting scratched for Monday’s 5-3 win against Toronto.
Griffith, a restricted free agent following the season, returned Wednesday inside KeyBank Center, skating at left wing beside center Benoit Pouliot and Nick Baptiste.
How can Griffith keep earning NHL action?
“When you get back up here, you worry about making a mistake and going back down,” he said. “I think … you just got to focus on your game and be confident with the puck, especially now, everybody seems a lot looser now playing (than earlier in the season).
“It seems like guys are playing better, so I think you just got to have the mentality to know what your skill set is and just go out there and do it.”
Not surprisingly, Sabres coach Phil Housley said he wants Griffith to produce more offense.
“Just using his speed, quickness, trying to create offensively, cutbacks and trying to create his own space,” he said. “I think he did a really good job in the games that he’s played.”
Nine days after the Sabres acquired Danny O’Regan from the San Jose Sharks, they recalled the forward from the Amerks on Wednesday morning.
So, O’Regan played against the Flames, right? Well, not exactly.
The Sabres also have a road game tonight against the Ottawa Senators, so O’Regan, the only player they received in the Evander Kane trade, could debut soon.
“I could see him getting some games in the future here,” Housley said. “I think he’s just a really good, solid prospect for us right now, and he’s going to get an opportunity.”
Whenever O’Regan, the AHL’s top rookie last season, makes his Buffalo debut, he understands he has something to prove.
“I try not to put that pressure on myself, but being a part of the Evander Kane trade – it’s not like it was a one-for-one deal, but I want to show the organization I can play hockey sometimes,” O’Regan said.
O’Regan, who will wear No. 65, skated in the pregame warm-up.
In a poll of players conducted by the NHLPA, Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly was named the league’s fifth-most underrated player, earning 2.3 percent of the vote.
Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom (8.6), St. Louis’ Jaden Schwartz, Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov (6.2) and Florida’s Aleksander Barkov 6.0) finished ahead of O’Reilly.
Housley on slick Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau, who began Wednesday with 20 goals and 74 points in 67 games:
“He’s a world-class player. He uses his speed, whether it’s on the rush, his vision, his hockey sense is through the charts. He creates things by using his speed and his quickness to get away, he creates separation. He has a terrific shot, he knows where to put it.”
The Sabres also scratched defensemen Justin Falk and Josh Gorges (both healthy) and centers Kyle Criscuolo and Evan Rodrigues (both upper body).