Jack Eichel’s 21st birthday present: Another Sabres loss

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Jack Eichel turns 21 today as the Buffalo Sabres host the San Jose Sharks. What do you get a guy who received an eight-year, $80 million extension not long ago?

Phil Housley’s answer appears to be a piece of humble pie.

The Buffalo News’ Amy Moritz reports that Eichel was bumped off the Sabres’ top power-play unit heading into this afternoon’s contest.

Take a look at the two power-play units, which get points for balance, if nothing else

PP1: Jason Pominville, Ryan O'Reilly, Ryan Reinhart, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Matt Tennyson.

PP2: Eichel, Kyle Okposo, Evander Kane, Victor Antipin, and Marco Scandella.

Honestly, even as a vocal proponent of ROR, I’d probably take that second group over the first. Maybe this is a merely nominal move, especially if Eichel and the second unit’s reps end up being nearly identical.

Eichel hasn’t scored a point in his past two games, so Housley is probably just trying to tinker with things to see if he can get a spark. On the other hand, the Sharks must be a little weary, playing at an odd hour and closing off a five-game road trip. You have to wonder if Housley might be getting a little “too cute” here.

It looks like Eichel is still on the top line from an even-strength perspective, so this probably isn’t too huge of a deal.

Not the greatest birthday present, either, though.

(H/T to Rotoworld.)

Update: The Sabres were solid on Saturday, with that non-Eichel PP unit getting a goal. Eichel assisted on a goal and had a would-be goal called back. The Sharks ended up winning 3-2, making for more frustrating in Buffalo.

Eichel looked frustrated, although you have to give him a Bo Jackson point here:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.