There’s no need to panic quite yet, but the Buffalo Sabres are being cautious when it comes to center Ryan O’Reilly and an injury that popped up in pre-season action.
O’Reilly, 25, recently returned from helping Canada win the World Cup of Hockey, but in his first pre-season game back in a Buffalo Sabres uniform, he was forced to leave early for what was originally called precautionary reasons due to a possible pulled muscle. However, as it turns out, O’Reilly is dealing with muscle spasms.
Sabres coach Dan Bylsma updated O’Reilly’s status Wednesday and reiterated that he had “mostly left the game for precautionary reasons,” but said O’Reilly will get a few days off in order to recuperate from the ailment.
“Day-to-day, precautionary really at this point in time,” Bylsma said, according to The Buffalo News’ John Vogl. “He will not be playing tomorrow in the game, then we’ll have the 8th off, so he should have a few good days here of rest, treatment and rehab.”
O’Reilly has, for the most part, been able to stay healthy throughout his NHL career, so there’s no major cause for concern that he’s got any lingering issues, but he did have his biggest battle with injury during the 2015-16 campaign. In February, O’Reilly hit the shelf with a lower-body injury — later discovered to be a foot injury — and wound up missing 11 games. At no other point in his career had O’Reilly missed more than seven consecutive games due to injury, and that came due to a head injury back in 2011.
Having a healthy O’Reilly is of paramount importance to a Sabres club that is looking to improve further on the steps forward they took over the past campaign. Buffalo improved from a 54-point season in 2014-15 to breaking the 80-point plateau during Bylsma’s first year as bench boss, a season that saw the Sabres bring in the likes of O’Reilly, Jamie McGinn and Cody Franson, and also saw the debut of Evander Kane and Jack Eichel in Buffalo.
O’Reilly was a huge part of the Sabres attack this past season and was undoubtedly the team’s No. 1 center during Eichel’s rookie year. O’Reilly’s two-way skill saw him average nearly 22 minutes of ice time per game — the most of any forward in the NHL in 2015-16 — and he had one of the best offensive seasons of his career with 21 goals and 60 points.
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