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Bogosian focused on working hard to get back into Sabres lineup

Could be healthy scratch for second straight game against Islanders

by Heather Engel / Independent Correspondent

BUFFALO -- Zach Bogosian is concentrating on his next opportunity to be in the Buffalo Sabres lineup, whenever that might be.

The defenseman was scratched against the Nashville Predators on Thursday, for what he said was the first time in his NHL career.

"Everyone wants to play," he said after practice Friday. "For me, I'm just focused on working hard and getting back in the lineup."

The return of Rasmus Dahlin from a concussion gives the Sabres eight healthy defensemen. Bogosian was scratched Thursday, but he is not the first veteran left out of the lineup this season. Jake McCabe, Marco Scandella and Colin Miller each has been a healthy scratch this season.

Coach Ralph Krueger said the decision to sit Bogosian was best for the team.

"I'm a leader that's not here to be popular at all," Krueger said. "Doesn't interest me. The past is not the present; it is the past and we will work with the present and what you're doing today. What you're giving the team today will decide where your role is, what your minutes are and how much you are playing a part in our process. That will be deciding what you're doing today.

"It's not that I'm cold. I'm doing what I know I need to do as a leader to get the most out of this group and define the potential of the Buffalo Sabres and that's what I'm going to work to do every day."

Prior to the game, TSN reported that Bogosian had requested a trade.

Bogosian did not acknowledge the request while speaking Friday.

"I'm going to let any conversation between myself, [general manager] Jason [Botterill] and my agent stay with me," he said.

Bogosian, selected by the Atlanta Thrashers with the No. 3 pic of he 2008 NHL Draft, is in his 12th NHL season and his sixth season with the Sabres. He was traded from the Winnipeg Jets to Buffalo with Evander Kane on Feb. 11, 2015, for defenseman Tyler Myers, forward Drew Stafford and forwards Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux, who were Sabres prospects at the time, and a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, which was used by the Jets to select forward Jack Roslovic.

Bogosian has hasn't played more than 65 games in a season since playing 71 with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2010-11. He made his debut this season Nov. 24 while recovering from offseason hip surgery. He has three assists in 10 games and is averaging 18:45 of ice time per game, fourth-highest among the nine defensemen used by the Sabres this season.

Video: BUF@CHI: Bogosian slips around Crawford to bury a SHG

"Bogosian didn't have a training camp," Krueger said. "He didn't have the luxury of trying out his role in this position into being the best player he can be, and I believe we still haven't seen the best Zach Bogosian, and my job is to find the best Zach Bogosian for our team, so we'll continue to do that. …

"As a coaching staff we'll make some decisions that might look like they're biased, but they're not. We have all the information and we share as much as we can and then we make the decisions on the roster. I think a player that hasn't gone to training camp needs to also be patient before he expects to play his A game."

With the surplus on defense, Krueger has recently opted for a lineup of 11 forwards and seven defensemen. It's something he could employ again when the Sabres play the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; MSG+, MSG-B, NHL.TV).

"We just always dealt with everything head on, open, on the table, transparent," Krueger said. "It's about building a culture here in Buffalo, where everybody on the roster is all in on the plan that we have and pushing to make everybody around them better and helping to make the club better."

Krueger wouldn't say if Bogosian would play against the Islanders. He was paired with Dahlin at practice Friday, but Krueger said final decisions would be made on the day of the game.

"I'm just focused on getting back in the lineup," Bogosian said. "There's not much I can really do other than work hard and show up and have a smile on my face like I always do."

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