The Buffalo Sabres will welcome center Ryan O’Reilly back to the lineup tonight with the team in Chicago to face the Blackhawks, according to Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News. O’Reilly last played on December 23rd and has missed the last four games after undergoing an emergency appendectomy on December 27th. He was expected at the time to need 10 – 14 days to recover and it appears as if O’Reilly’s return comes slightly ahead of schedule.
O’Reilly currently ranks fourth on the Sabres in scoring with 17 points and his return couldn’t have come at a better time given the recent loss of Johan Larsson for the season. Head coach Dan Bylsma can use O’Reilly against the opposition’s top lines, thus freeing Jack Eichel to match-up against lesser competition.
Buffalo acquired O’Reilly from Colorado prior to the start of the 2015-16 season in a blockbuster deal that also brought forward Jamie McGinn to the Sabres. The Avalanche received Mikhail Grigorenko and defenseman Nikita Zadorov along with prospect J.T. Compher and a 2015 second-round pick in return. O’Reilly led the team in scoring last season with 60 points and posted the second 20-goal season of his seven-year career.
The Sabres went 2 – 2 – 0 in O’Reilly’s absence, sandwiching back-to-back, home-and-home losses to Boston with road wins over Detroit and the New York Rangers. They are tied for last in the Eastern Conference with the New York Islanders and trail the Bruins by eight points for the last guaranteed playoff spot in the Atlantic.