Cal O'Reilly just needed to be patient. He knows the game, knows that roster moves are beyond his control. He put his energy into leading the Rochester Americans and in the process became the scoring leader in the American Hockey League with 18 points (three goals, 15 assists) through 15 games.
With 10 points in his last seven games and a Buffalo Sabres team desperate to find some offense, O'Reilly was recalled for the first time this season, joining the Sabres as they host the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins in KeyBank Center Saturday night.
"Just being patient," O'Reilly said about watching his Rochester teammates drive the I-90 shuttle. "If the call came, great. If not it's really out of my control. I'm just trying to play well and lead that team down there."
O'Reilly will be centering Zemgus Girgensons and Matt Moulson.
"Most importantly we thought we needed help in the center position," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "Cal has played excellent for them down in Rochester. He's coming up to help in the center position."
There also is a good chance O'Reilly will see time on the power play. He spent the morning skate working with both power play units as the Sabres try to spark some offense.
"If I get the opportunity for sure I'll be ready," O'Reilly said. "I've been a power play guy my whole life so if they use me out there I'll be ready to help create some chances and hopefully score some goals. I just try to create space and create chances for my linemates around me; making good, hard passes and creating stuff for guys in the seams and getting down to the net. It's just something I've done my whole career basically."
O'Reilly will get that opportunity according to Bylsma. O'Reilly played 20 games for the Sabres last season, scoring one of his three goals on the power play.
"I think it's important that you put players in situations and opportunities that they can help. Cal is that guy," Bylsma said. "He's almost a point-a-game guy. He has poise and confidence with the puck. Every game he's played I think for us here in Buffalo I think he's been on the power play and I think he can add to that second unit being a poised-puck guy, controlling the play, passing for us there."
The 30-year-old O'Reilly is the older brother of Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly who will miss his fourth game with an oblique injury and Cal said it's been a trying time for Ryan.
"He misses the games. He takes it hard,"Cal said of his brother, Ryan. "He hasn't missed many games in his career so he hasn't really gone through something like this. I think it's been really tough on him but he knows he's got to get that healthy before he comes back so it doesn't keep flaring up on him. Obviously they really miss him here. He's a key player for them."
The Sabres also recalled Williamsville native Cole Schneider. Schneider has two games with the Sabres this season, including registering his first career NHL assist against Ottawa on Nov. 9. In Rochester, he has 17 points to rank second in AHL scoring, to teammate and linemate Cal O'Reilly.
"He's a very smart, good player," O'Reilly said of playing with Schneider. "He makes it real easy. He makes plays, he gets open, he can score, he can pass. He can do it all. We've really been clicking with each other so far this year."
"Cole continues to play well down there and he's just getting another opportunity," Bylsma said. "Kind of looking for a player to grab a hold of the opportunity that they're given and Cole's going to get that tonight."