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Eichel aiming for playoffs

Jack is back in camp

World Cup of Hockey 2016 - Media Day
Jack Eichel speaks with the media

Buffalo Sabres star center Jack Eichel is back with the team after his World Cup of Hockey exploits with the fan-favorite Team North America, and he’s very clear with his goals for this season.

“Obviously there’s goals and numbers in the back of your mind but I think for the most part I think we all have the same one and that’s make the playoffs. You could say ‘be in the hunt’ or whatever but I think we have the guys in the room and I think we all believe in ourselves and we have the team to do it.

"Obviously it’s tough. You look at the Eastern Conference and some of the teams in there and how competitive it is but the goal is to be in the hunt at the end of the year. Playing games in March and April and keep going. I think that’s important for us. That’s what this organization wants and that’s what we want in the room. I think anything less than that is underachievement this year for us.”

His preseason started a little earlier than for most of the team with the World Cup, but that only means he’s already raring to go.

“It was nice and you start the season a little bit earlier and I think it was great. Now you’re stepping into camp and you’ve already played six real high end games against the world’s best and you’re ready to get going and hit the ground running.

“It was definitely tough. You’d like to put the fate in your own hands. You don’t want to put the fate in someone else’s hands. You want to be able to control your own outcome and your own destiny. I think for a good amount of us we thought we were in after the Sweden game until our coach told us we needed to see how Russia did due to the fact we went to overtime and gave Sweden that one point.

“Looking back on it, it’s probably six minutes, eight minutes that cost us in the second period against Russia and you play eight bad minutes in a tournament like that and you’re out of the game. Do I think that we deserved to have moved on? Sure I do. I thought we had a great team. But standings-wise, point-wise, we didn’t do enough as a team to move on.

“Unfortunately the fun ride had to come to an end. We were all a little bit bummed, but I’m definitely excited to get back to Buffalo. I’ve been looking forward to the season for a while now and I expect more out of myself every day.

“It was fun, but I really enjoyed getting to know the guys. It was a really good group and we came together so quickly, so just the time and getting to spend it with them was one of the best parts.”

Eichel lived with Matt Moulson and his family last season, but has moved out with Kyle Okposo moving in. Now he gets to live with his road-roommate Sam Reinhart, who apparently has been strumming him awake already.

“He thinks he’s an artist but he woke me up, He was just strumming the guitar. He doesn’t know what he’s playing.

“It works for a lot of reasons. He’s obviously a great kid, he’s easy to live with. We were together all the time on the road last year even when we were in Buffalo. I spent some time at his place last year.

“It’s something we talked about very briefly, it was like, ‘Hey you want to live together’ then it was ‘Hey do you want to find a place’ and we found a place the next day and it’s been great so far.”

“We’ve eaten out a lot. We should probably work on that, we need to go do the groceries and get a grill.”

“You just become more comfortable with things. I think you can say the same thing for both of us. Year One, there’s that little bit of shyness to start the year. I think we both obviously came along and I think for the most part it says a lot about the guys in the room. They made us feel comfortable from Day One and I think that’s what allowed us to be successful on the ice and enjoy our time here. I think that’s important and for me and Sam it’s important we do that for the younger guys.”