TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning wrap up their longest homestand of the season against the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night, and they are finishing the seven-game stint with an extra morning off.
Both teams had optional skates this morning and very few players took advantage of the ice time.
But while the Buffalo Sabres, who won their second game of the season Friday night against the Florida Panthers, were not on the ice Saturday morning, they certainly were on the mind of Lightning coach Jon Cooper, who cautioned his team not to take Buffalo lightly.
"All we remember is that we played Buffalo once and we had to grind out the game in overtime to get two points," Cooper said. "One thing you can't do is look at the standings. Just look at last year because we were 28th, so Buffalo might be saying, ‘oh wow, we have to be careful not to look past Tampa.'
"These are probably two teams looking at each other and thinking, ‘these are two points we can get'. For us, we will try to tell our guys to forget who we are playing. Whether we are playing the Stanley Cup champs or the team that finished 30th last year, it's what we do, it's our effort, it's our consistent play, and then we'll see how it falls. The second we start looking at the standings we're in trouble. We'll be done. We'll come out with zero points."
The Sabres' roster is already depleted with both John Scott and Patrick Kaleta serving suspensions. But in addition they have lost Mike Weber to an upper-body injury sustained during the second period against the Panthers.
Henrik Tallinder, a healthy scratch Friday night, will take Weber's spot in the lineup against the Lightning.
Here are the projected lineups for the Sabres and Lightning. Both teams will likely dress seven defensemen:
Thomas Vanek - Cody Hodgson - Drew Stafford
Tyler Ennis - Marcus Foligno - Steve Ott
Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Brian Flynn
Cody McCormick - Mikhail Grigorenko
Christian Ehrhoff - Mark Pysyk
Nikita Zadorov - Tyler Myers
Henrik Tallinder - Jamie McBain
Scratched: Patrick Kaleta (suspension), John Scott (suspension)
Injured: Ville Leino (rib), Mike Weber (upper body)
Ryan Malone – Steven Stamkos – Martin St. Louis
Richard Panik – Valtteri Filppula – Alex Killorn
Ondrej Palat – Tyler Johnson – Teddy Purcell
B.J. Crombeen – Nate Thompson
Matthew Carle – Radko Gudas
Victor Hedman – Sami Salo
Eric Brewer – Mark Barbierio
Scratched: Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Andrej Sustr
Injured: Tom Pyatt (collarbone), Brian Lee (knee)