PHILADELPHIA – The Buffalo Sabres lineup will have a bit of a different look heading into their game Thursday night against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.
Luke Adam and Brayden McNabb will make their season debuts for the Sabres after being recalled from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League on Wednesday. Mikhail Grigorenko will return to the lineup after sitting out the past three games and Tyler Ennis is “ready to go” after missing practice on Wednesday, according to Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan.
Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Nolan said that the players went out to dinner Wednesday night and that provided a good opportunity for Adam and McNabb to get acclimated with their new teammates. As far as what he’s said to them about the game coming up, the best advice, he said, is for them to not change much in terms of how they’re playing.
“There’s not much words you can say. Just go out there and do your thing that got you here. That’s the most important thing,” Nolan said after the team’s optional skate at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday. “Sometimes when you get to a place, you try to change your game a little bit. What got them here is the way they’ve been playing down there so we want them to play the same here.”
Adam said that he scored his 13 goals, which is tied for the American Hockey League lead, in all different situations. Early on, they came in the area around the crease, but he’s since tallied on rushes and on the power play.
“It’s nice to be able to get back on the sheet and be able to score goals again, to get them different ways,” he said. “There’s not one way you score a goal. Some guys are comfortable scoring with one way, but at the end of the day in this League and any other league, most goals are scored from right around that net.”
McNabb will skate with someone he spent a lot of time with on the ice in training camp – defenseman Jamie McBain.
“It should be a good fit,” McNabb said. “He’s a right-handed shot, good skater, so it’ll be easy to play with him.”
Defenseman Mark Pysyk and forwards Corey Tropp and Brian Flynn will be healthy scratches according to Nolan. They continued worked with the assistant coaches after practice had ended.
“These guys just have to learn to do it on a more consistent basis. Sometimes it’s good to sit back,” Nolan said. “It has nothing to do with their lack of ability. It’s just their maturity has to come at the right time and they’ll get back in the lineup.”
With Pysyk out of the lineup, Mike Weber will likely slide up on the top pair with Christian Ehrhoff.
Ryan Miller was the first goaltender off the ice and is expected to start in goal.
Grigorenko has been a healthy scratch in each of Nolan’s first three games back behind the Buffalo bench and has been looking for a chance to play more. Nolan said that they’ll give Grigorenko a “good look” against the Flyers.
“The kid, you have to give him some credit. He’s the one who said, ‘You haven’t seen me play yet.’ He said it to us three or four times yesterday but we’ll see him play and we’ll see what he has,” Nolan said. “He’s a young up-and-coming that’s going to be important to our organization so we have to make sure we put him in a good place. We’ll put him here and see what he has.”
Nolan will coach against Craig Berube, the former Flyers enforcer. Both are First Nations men and Nolan said that the matchup will be a special one for their tribes, particularly for the kids who aspire to play hockey at the professional level.
“I was pretty happy when I heard Craig Berube was the head coach here. It’s really big for First Nations territory back home in Canada. I’m sure word spreads pretty quickly, so I’m sure there are a lot of people that are quite proud and will be watching this game,” he said. “I think it’s really good for the next generation of young kids to see that also because we do have a lot of talented kids out there that just need a little break.”