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by Jourdon LaBarber / Buffalo Sabres

It was hard to miss Zach Bogosian on the ice at HARBORCENTER on Wednesday morning. The defenseman wore a red non-contact jersey, making him stand out in his first practice with the team since sustaining a lower-body injury early in Training Camp.

Regardless of the color he wore, Bogosian was glad to finally be back with his teammates.

“It’s nice,” he said. “It’s just one practice but it’s been quite a while. It feels nice to kind of get back into the swing of things and just kind of take it a day at a time.”

Bogosian will travel with the team to Florida for a four-day road trip where he will continue to participate in team practices, according to Sabres coach Dan Bylsma. Bylsma said that the team hopes to have him out of the red sweater in the next few days.

On their road trip, the Sabres have games in Florida on Thursday night and in Tampa Bay on Saturday. Bylsma said that whether or not Bogosian will be ready for either of those games is dependent on how he responds to practices.

“A lot of it would be how he progresses,” Bylsma said. “He was up a level today and he has to react to that so we will see. He’s coming on the trip to get team practices in tomorrow and the next day and we’ll go from there.”

Having to sit out for all of the preseason and for Buffalo’s first three games of the regular season had been a challenge for the veteran defenseman.

“You try to gauge it; you try to be smart about these things. As much as you want to be in the lineup you do realize it’s a long season,” he said. “If I had it my way I’d be out there opening night but it didn’t work out that way so you’ve got to be smart about it with the trainers and go from there.”

After being reassigned to Rochester and playing there on Saturday night, defenseman Jake McCabe was recalled and inserted into the Sabres lineup against Columbus on Monday, which also happened to be his 22nd birthday.

While Bylsma said that the move to send McCabe down to the American Hockey League for one game prior to bringing him back was a part of the plan all along, it was news to the young defenseman when he got the call back to Buffalo.

“I went down there and played my game and had no expectation whether I was going to be up here or down there,” he said. “Kind of like this whole camp and taking into the season, [I’m] taking it day-by-day and that’s all I can do.”

McCabe said in the preseason that he had been disappointed with aspects of his camp, but his performance was strong enough to earn him at least one game at the NHL level. More might be on the way; at Wednesday’s practice, he remained on a defensive pair with Mark Pysyk.

The defenseman was pleased with the game he and Pysyk put together in the victory over Columbus.

“I think we were very steady,” he said. “I thought we spent not a whole lot of time in the D-zone so that’s always a good sign as a defenseman, if you can play in the offensive zone more than the D-zone you’re doing something right.”

Buffalo currently has seven defenseman on the roster. Matt Donovan cleared waivers at noon and he has been assigned to Rochester.

After practicing with the team on Sunday, Sabres captain Brian Gionta said that he was cautiously optimistic about playing on Monday afternoon against the Blue Jackets. But when he woke up that morning, the team decided it was best to hold him out of the game and allow for a few extra days of rest.

Following Wednesday’s practice, Gionta said that he was beginning to feel better.

“It’s one of those things where if you’re still feeling things, you’re able to gain three, four more days by waiting until Thursday so you want to make sure it’s 100 percent,” Gionta said. “It felt good again today so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

Bylsma said that Gionta is still day-to-day and that he too is hopeful that the forward will return to the lineup at some point on their Florida road trip.

90 Ryan O’Reilly – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 63 Tyler Ennis
9 Evander Kane – 15 Jack Eichel – 12 Brian Gionta
26 Matt Moulson – 22 Johan Larsson – 88 Jamie McGinn
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 17 David Legwand – 82 Marcus Foligno – 23 Sam Reinhart

4 Josh Gorges – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Mike Weber – 46 Cody Franson
29 Jake McCabe – 3 Mark Pysyk
25 Carlo Colaiacovo
47 Zach Bogosian (Non-Contact)

31 Chad Johnson
50 Nathan Lieuwen

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