Matt Moulson is entering Ville Leino territory.
That's a harsh, cold reality for the underperforming Buffalo Sabres forward.
Moulson has not scored a goal since Nov. 1. That's 36 games ago. Only once has he been on the ice for more than 10 minutes in the Sabres' last seven contests.
"I don't like where his game's been at," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said following Friday's morning skate, cutting right to the case. "But we're in a situation tonight where we're going to give him a chance to get his game back to where it can be – where it needs to be for us."
Because of an upper-body injury to Sam Reinhart, the Sabres are juggling their forward lines. Moulson is expected to join center Ryan O'Reilly and Evander Kane on the top line for Friday night's game against the Detroit Red Wings (7 p.m., MSG, WGR 550 AM).
"He's played next to Ryan for a 10-game chunk during this year with Brian Gionta. They were our top line winning the game in Long Island and through that stretch," Bylsma said. "He should need to be able to provide to be on a top line, to be in a top six-role. He's going to get that opportunity tonight."
A stoic Moulson spoke after the morning skate, but didn't shed much light on what's causing his struggles.
"All you can do is put in the work and hopefully it pays off," he said. "I've been working, trying to improve every day and you just have to transfer that over to the game. ... I think that's all I've been trying to concentrate on personally the last little bit and you can't really let your mind get too mixed up in the other things."
Blysma has made Moulson a healthy scratch once this season, but that option is pretty much gone for now with the thinning forward ranks. Reinhart is expected to be out for a week, while Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons also remain out. The only hope is that Moulson, who is in the second season of a five-year, $25 million contract, can somehow break out of his season-long slump.
"Just got to play my game and continue to work," Moulson said. "Just getting to the net and making plays. Make sure I'm controlling the puck, especally in their zone. Make sure I'm moving my feet."