BUFFALO -- Buffalo Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta has not played in a home game since Oct. 10, 2013. That will change against the Winnipeg Jets.
Kaleta is set to rejoin the lineup on Wednesday taking the place of Cody McCormick, who is being evaluated for a possible concussion. Kaleta has played in one game this season, on the road against the Minnesota Wild on Nov. 13.
"I'm anxious," Kaleta said. "I feel better today than I did in Minnesota. In Minnesota I felt real nervous. Today, I feel more calm and controlled. Over the past couple weeks, even during practice, I feel like I'm starting to get my legs back and my power. My practices the past couple weeks have been really good and beneficial to my game and, like I said, I feel more comfortable today than I have in the past."
Kaleta missed most of last season with a torn ACL he sustained while playing for the Rochester Americans in the American Hockey League. He missed the start of this season after he injured his eye and jaw after being a struck by a puck in the preseason. Kaleta will be on a line with Marcus Foligno and Chris Stewart, but it's up in the air as to who will play center on that line.
"We'll probably put him on the wing position," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "We'll probably put [Foligno] in the middle, but we'll see how it goes."
Nolan said Foligno has played well of late on the wing, which might put Kaleta at center. It also might force him to use a host of different players throughout the game on that line.
"You've got to work with what you've got, and right now that's what we've got," Nolan said. "We might just keep [Kaleta] in the middle because of that fact. [Foligno] is just starting to come. Stewart is playing a little bit better. We may use him as a safety valve in the center ice position, so we'll see how it goes. Maybe we'll double-shift [Zemgus] Girgensons a few shifts, [Cody] Hodgson a few shifts, maybe even put [Tyler] Ennis in the middle. So you never know how it goes."
Goaltender Jhonas Enroth will make his second consecutive start as the Sabres look to win their fourth consecutive game.
The Jets did not hold a morning skate. They are coming off a 4-2 against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday. Goalie Michael Hutchinson made 32 saves and Evander Kane had two goals to lead the way. Goalie Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start against the Sabres.
Here are the projected lineups:
Andrew Ladd – Bryan Little – Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane – Mathieu Perreault – Dustin Byfuglien
Adam Lowry – Mark Scheifele – Michael Frolik
Chris Thorburn – Jim Slater – Matt Halischuk
Grant Clitsome – Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart – Jacob Trouba
Adam Pardy – Paul Postma
Scratched: Anthony Peluso
Injured: Tobias Enstrom (lower body)
Matt Moulson – Zemgus Girgensons – Tyler Ennis
Brian Flynn – Torrey Mitchell – Brian Gionta
Nicolas Deslauriers – Cody Hodgson – Drew Stafford
Marcus Foligno – Patrick Kaleta – Chris Stewart
Tyson Strachan – Tyler Myers
Nikita Zadorov – Rasmus Ristolainen
Mike Weber – Andrej Meszaros
Scratched: Andre Benoit
Injured: Cody McCormick (concussion), Josh Gorges (lower body)
Status report: McCormick participated in the morning skate. It was his first appearance on the ice with the team since he was hurt Saturday. He's been kept off the ice to follow concussion protocol, according to Nolan.
Who's hot: Girgensons has seven points in the past seven games with four goals. Ennis has two goals and six points in the past five games.