Slumping Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner will be a healthy scratch for a third straight game Thursday against the New Jersey Devils, Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger said, according to WKBW's Matthew Bove.
Skinner, who has no goals and just one assist in 14 games this season, skated with the team's taxi squad Thursday morning. He's in the second season of an eight-year, $72-million contract.
Asked what it would take to get Skinner out of his doghouse, Krueger replied that he doesn't have a doghouse and doesn't "know really what that is." But the head coach did make it clear he wants to see more from Skinner when he returns to the lineup.
"My job, combined with the attitude and the work ethic of a player, is to work together to find the potential of a player," he said. "When Jeff is called upon again, may we drive him closer to his potential working together on that solution."
Krueger also said he wasn't making Skinner a healthy scratch due to the forward's own play, but rather because he wants to reward other deserving individuals.
"Right now, the decisions are more for the players that are in the lineup than against anybody else," Krueger said.
Skinner's 1.06 individual expected goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five this season is the second-highest such mark of his career, according to Natural Stat Trick, suggesting the four-time 30-goal scorer was on the verge of breaking out before being pulled from the lineup.
The 28-year-old potted a career-high 40 goals during his first season with Buffalo in 2018-19, but he only managed a disappointing 14 tallies in 59 games last year.