BUFFALO -- The New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres each held an optional morning skate ahead of their game at First Niagara Center on Thursday. However, both teams had news to share off the ice.
The Sabres announced they would loan forward Mikhail Grigorenko to Russia for the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship. He will leave the team Sunday to attend a pre-tournament camp in Russia. The 2014 WJC runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2014.
"I can't be sitting in the press box. I need to play. Everybody understands this," Grigorenko said. "It's a really good opportunity because it's a really good level there. [It's] probably not as good as the NHL but I would say it's close. So it's going to be really good for me."
Sabres coach Ted Nolan said forward Cody McCormick will play against the Rangers after missing the past four games with an upper-body injury. Defenseman Alexander Sulzer (undisclosed) will be placed on injured reserve to make room for him.
Defenseman Jamie McBain also will return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the past four games; defenseman Brayden McNabb will be a healthy scratch.
"It was an unfortunate situation that happened with him," Nolan said of McBain. "I try to learn everybody here. I try to get [Tyler] Myers' game going and [Christian] Ehrhoff's game going; [McBain] just got caught up into the mix. It was unfair to sit him out for any other reason but we had to find our other people. We know he's more of an offensive gifted guy, so hopefully we expect that."
Jhonas Enroth was the only goalie at the morning skate, meaning Ryan Miller likely will start.
The Rangers will be without forward Derek Dorsett against the Sabres. Coach Alain Vigneault said Dorsett has a wrist injury and Taylor Pyatt will take his spot.
Vigneault said he's hoping for someone out of the defensive group of John Moore, Justin Falk and Michael Del Zotto can step up their game. Moore will be in the lineup against the Sabres.
"He's a very young player, tremendous amount of upside in our minds," Vigneault said of Moore. "Both Michael [Del Zotto] and Falk, it depends more on the [opposition], if you think you need a little more bite or if you think you need a little more puck movement. If anybody would show us that they deserve to play ahead, whether it be Dan [Girardi] or [Ryan] McDonagh or [Anton] Stralman or [Marc] Staal, I'd give them the ice time, but nobody's really come up and played better than those guys."
Falk was bag-skated following the optional skate and appears he'll be scratched if the rest of the defensive lineup holds. Henrik Lundqvist, one day after agreeing to a seven-year contract extension, will start in goal after not playing in the past two games.
Here is what the teams' lineups likely will look like:
Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Rick Nash
Mats Zuccarello - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Carl Hagelin - Derick Brassard - Taylor Pyatt
Brian Boyle - Dominic Moore - Benoit Pouliot
Dan Girardi - Ryan McDonagh
Anton Stralman - Marc Staal
John Moore - Michael Del Zotto
Scratched: Justin Falk
Injured: Derek Dorsett (wrist)
Matt Moulson - Cody Hodgson - Drew Stafford
Steve Ott - Ville Leino - Matt D'Agostini
Luke Adam - Tyler Ennis - Zemgus Girgensons
Marcus Foligno - Brian Flynn - Cody McCormick
Tyler Myers - Henrik Tallinder
Christian Ehrhoff - Mark Pysyk
Jamie McBain - Mike Weber
Scratched: Brayden McNabb, Mikhail Grigorenko, John Scott
Injured: Alexander Sulzer (undisclosed)