Zach Bogosian and Andrej Meszaros were back at practice at First Niagara Center on Tuesday after missing Monday’s skate.
Both Buffalo Sabres defensemen were injured Saturday night in Washington. Bogosian blocked a shot in the second period and left early in the third while Meszaros gloved down a puck midway through the first period and was then out for the rest of the game.
However, they both said they felt good after Tuesday’s skate and could possibly be available for Buffalo’s game on Wednesday in Toronto against the Maple Leafs.
Sabres coach Ted Nolan said they’ll await further examinations before making a final decision on either of them. Faceoff from Air Canada Centre is set for 7 p.m. on MSG-B and Sportsnet. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.
Buffalo’s current lineup currently boasts six forwards from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League, including all four centers. Not having to make an injury call up for the blue line would be a welcome relief.
All four of the team’s centers – Johan Larsson, Philip Varone, Tim Schaller and Matt Ellis – have played big roles with the Amerks this year and are hoping to take advantage of extended time in the NHL.
Tim Schaller has played a variety of roles for the Sabres already in his nine games in Buffalo so far this season. He’s currently second on the Amerks in scoring with 40 points (15+20), so while he does have some offensive upside, he has been focusing on being sound in his own end while up with the Sabres.
“My job here is to play well defensively, kill penalties,” he said. “I’m not afraid to get in the shot lane of anybody, so I’ll do that. I can fit on any line. The main goal there is not to switch my game, get pucks deep, take bodies and open up space for guys who are where to score.”
At practice on Monday, Nolan switched the centers on his top line, putting Larsson with Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis and moving Varone between Marcus Foligno and captain Brian Gionta.
This is currently Larsson’s third recall of the season and Nolan has seen a change in his demeanor in the time between call ups.
“He’s been a lot different. I think he’s really been just concentrating on playing,” Nolan said. “Sometimes when you’re young and that first time you get up, [you worry about] how many minutes you get, who you’re playing with and all those types of things.
“And then all of a sudden you go through it one more time and you’re a little bit mature on it. And then you’re just being thankful for being in the League, No. 1 and whoever you get to play with – it’s no disrespect whoever you’re playing with in this League. Everybody can play.”
For Larsson, Nolan thinks one of the biggest things he needs to focus on is staying competitive throughout an entire shift.
“Just watching him practice, you have a sense on what he can do and what he’s capable of doing,” Nolan said. “When he moves his feet and he’s engaged, he’s pretty effective.”
Nolan wasn’t ready to name a starting goaltender for Wednesday after practice. He said he’d meeting with goaltending coach Arturs Irbe and let the players know sometime later on Tuesday of the decision.
Matt Hackett started Saturday’s game, but was pulled midway through the second period in favor of Anders Lindback.
26 Matt Moulson – 22 Johan Larsson – 63 Tyler Ennis
82 Marcus Foligno – 84 Philip Varone – 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 59 Tim Schaller – 19 Cody Hodgson
49 Jerry D’Amigo – 37 Matt Ellis – 20 Zac Dalpe
61 Andre Benoit – 47 Zach Bogosian
51 Nikita Zadorov – 24 Tyson Strachan
6 Mike Weber – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
41 Andrej Meszaros
35 Anders Lindback
31 Matt Hackett