Zemgus Girgensons has gone 17 games and 1 1/2 months without a single point. Maybe a milestone game could be the trick he needs to snap his offensive slump.
The 23-year-old plays his 300th NHL game tonight against Pittsburgh, becoming the 76th player to reach that figure for the Sabres. But Girgensons is in the midst of a tough year, with just one goal and two assists in 22 games. Both of his assists came in the Oct. 12 loss at San Jose, the goal two nights later in Los Angeles.
Since then? Nothing.
"It's definitely tough, especially when you get in one of those slumps," Girgensons said after today's optional morning skate. "It sits in your mind and never gets out. You just stick with it, do the system, play the right away and hope it will come."
"You want to have an impact on the game, an impact in helping your team win and you want to contribute," said coach Phil Housley. "He's got to continue to go hard to the net. That's his area where he's at his best: Being physical on the forecheck and disrupting plays in the offensive zone."
Buffalo's second first-round pick in 2012, Girgensons has never provided much offense in his career. He had an eight-goal rookie season and his best year came in 2014-15 under Ted Nolan, when he had 15 goals and 15 assists for his Latvian Olympic coach.
Since then, Girgensons has just 15 goals in his last 168 games, with back-to-back seven-goal seasons the last two years under Dan Bylsma. The Sabres re-signed him over the summer to a two-year, $3.2 million deal.
The team hasn't won many games while Girgensons has been here. He was a regular through the team's two tank seasons and is now dealing with another clunker of a campaign, with the Sabres last in the Eastern Conference.
"It's been a good five years. I'm happy to have had all those games with the Sabres," he said. "It's definitely not what I wanted out of those seasons. Wish we had a better one in there. But it's definitely a learning curve and you can learn a lot from 300 games. You learn about being a pro, taking care of yourself, getting in each day as a pro. Give your 100 percent each day. You don't do that, you won't last."