BUFFALO – The Calgary Flames will likely have forward Joe Colborne back in the lineup as they look to stop a two-game losing skid when they face the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.
Colborne skated with Sean Monahan and Paul Byron on Thursday. Those three make up what would be Calgary's top line.
"Joe I think is 99.9 [percent] he's in," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "He feels real good. So we're going to meet right after [team] meeting and don't be surprised if he's in."
Colborne has no goals and eight assists in 11 games. He's been out since sustaining an upper-body injury Oct. 28 against the Montreal Canadiens. Forward Michael Ferland was sent to Adirondack of the American Hockey League to activate Colborne off injured reserve.
"The nerves will be going again," Colborne said. "It'll feel like the first game of the year again. I'm not worried about my conditioning levels or my skating; it's just going to be timing with the puck."
With Colborne back, the Flames lines looked a bit different when Hartley made changes to three out of four lines. The one line left unchanged was the trio of Johnny Gaudreau, Josh Jooris and Jiri Hudler.
"Performances dictate changes in this business," Hartley said. "That's how it goes. We're trying to be proactive in all parts of our game. With [Colborne] back in the lineup, we're remixing lines trying to generate new chemistry. I shouldn't say I don't attach any importance to lines, but to a certain point, we've been together, most of those guys, for a few years.
"We're always trying to look for a mixture of speed, a mixture of grit, a mixture of skills and that's what we came up with last night and we're going to experiment with this during tonight's game."
Forward Matt Stajan will come out of the lineup to make room for Colborne. Raphael Diaz will replace Ladislav Smid on defense. Goalie Karri Ramo will start for the Flames.
The Sabres will have one change in their lineup against the Flames. Forward Chris Stewart returns after he was a healthy scratch against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. Stewart will take the place of Cody Hodgson.
"Sometimes you overwork, too, and you over-think," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "Cody's a real good player. He's got some really good hands. He can score some goals, but unfortunately they're not happening right now. Sometimes it's good to sit back and look it from a different perspective."
Hodgson has one goal and two assists in 28 games.
"At the end of the day, it's a results-oriented game," Hodgson said. "You can try your hardest every shift and work, but at the end of the day, it's what you do out there."
Stewart will be on the right side of Marcus Foligno, who will play center, with Drew Stafford on the left wing. Goalie Jhonas Enroth will start for the Sabres.
Here are the projected lineups:
Joe Colborne – Sean Monahan – Paul Byron
Johnny Gaudreau – Josh Jooris – Jiri Hudler
Curtis Glencross – Markus Granlund – David Jones
Brandon Bollig – Lance Bouma – Mason Raymond
Mark Giordano – TJ Brodie
Kris Russell – Dennis Wideman
Raphael Diaz – Deryk Engelland
Scratched: Brian McGrattan, Ladislav Smid, Michael Ferland, Matt Stajan
Injured: Corey Potter (shoulder), Sam Bennett (shoulder), Mikael Backlund (abdominal)
Matt Moulson – Zemgus Girgensons – Tyler Ennis
Brian Flynn – Torrey Mitchell – Brian Gionta
Drew Stafford – Marcus Foligno – Chris Stewart
Nicolas Deslauriers – Cody McCormick – Patrick Kaleta
Josh Gorges – Tyler Myers
Nikita Zadorov – Rasmus Ristolainen
Mike Weber – Andre Benoit
Scratched: Cody Hodgson, Andrej Meszaros
Injured: Tyson Strachan (lower body)
Status report: Meszaros has been cleared to play following a concussion he sustained on Nov. 28.
Who's hot: Giordano has a point in five consecutive games. He has a point or more in all but six games this season… Enroth is coming off a 34-save shutout against the Kings on Tuesday.