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BOGOSIAN WELCOMING BIG MINUTES

by Chris Ryndak / Buffalo Sabres

Zach Bogosian has been with the Buffalo Sabres for a month now and he’s been able to fill some pretty big shoes.

He was acquired in a trade along with forward Evander Kane and goaltending prospect Jason Kasdorf from the Winnipeg Jets for defenseman Tyler Myers, forward Drew Stafford, a first-round pick and prospects Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux on Feb. 11.

Since then, he’s virtually assumed Myers’ on-ice role, playing a lot of minutes in all situations.

When the trade went down, the news of a Kane for Myers swap ignited most of the conversation and debate. And that suited Bogosian just fine.

“It was nice actually. I kind of slipped in under the radar with Kaner and Tyler kind of being the headline of that trade,” he said after practice Thursday afternoon at First Niagara Center. “That’s kind of how I like it. I just wanted to come in here and work hard, show my worth to the team and I think it’s gone well so far.”

Right from the get-go, he led Buffalo in ice time in his Sabres debut on Feb. 15. Since then, he’s consistently been Buffalo’s go-to guy on the blue line.

On Wednesday in Toronto, he logged 30:59, the second time he’s topped 30 minutes in his 12 games with the Sabres. He played a career-high 32:23 on Feb. 19 in Philadelphia.

“I guess I figured it was going to be a bigger role, but the more minutes you get as a player, you love that,” he said. “I like where it’s going. I like those minutes. I like playing the big minutes. You train hard for those.”

Sabres coach Ted Nolan obviously hasn’t been afraid to rely on Bogosian and his consistency on the blue line has helped add some stability to a blue line that is without alternate captain Josh Gorges.

“Those guys are very valuable to a team that’s rebuilding,” Nolan said of Bogosian and Gorges. “You need character-type of players in order to accomplish that. You can’t just have hard-working players or skilled players. It’s those character-type of players that make a difference.”


HARD MINUTES
The Sabres penalty kill has put in a lot of work over the past few games. During Bogosian’s tenure with Buffalo, the Sabres have been shorthanded 45 times, killing off 35 of them (.778 percent).

On Wednesday against the Maple Leafs, Buffalo’s PK went 4-for-5, but gave up a goal on Toronto’s final power-play opportunity – and their third of the third period.

“It’s OK if you’ve got it spread out, but when they’re back to back or a couple of minutes in between, it is taxing,” forward Marcus Foligno said.

“You’ve got the same guys out there more than once and it’s tough to get back into a regular shift after that when the lines are kind of juggled because of the PKers or the guys going to the box.”

Bogosian ended up with 5:00 of penalty-kill time on Wednesday.

“Those minutes eat you up a little bit, especially the amount of penalties that we’ve taken lately,” he said. “It seems like our penalty kill’s been on the ice quite a bit. Five-on-five and I guess power play too, you’re going back for pucks but you just try to be smart about it and take care of yourself.”


INJURY UPDATES FROM NOLAN
On making Thursday a maintenance day for Tyler Ennis, Matt Moulson and captain Brian Gionta:
“All three of those guys had a lot of minutes last night. We need them fresh come game time.”

On the possibility of Patrick Kaleta returning before season’s end (Kaleta has been out since Feb. 15 following surgery to repair a lower-body injury):
“If there’s one of them [to return], that’s a guy you’d bet on. He’s come through some tough injuries and he’s battled hard to work himself back in there. That’s one guy I wouldn’t question or Girgensons, either.”

On ruling Zemgus Girgensons out for the year (Girgensons blocked a shot off his foot on Feb. 24):
“I haven’t ruled him out yet. I saw him this morning and it looks like he gained some weight and he looks healthy. So we’ll see what happens in the next little while.”

On how Cody McCormick is dealing with being out for the season due to blood clots (McCormick last played on Jan. 9):
“Those are the toughest injuries, when you know what you can do then all of a sudden you’re told not to for precautionary reasons. It’s tough. You’re a part of the team but then you don’t feel a part of the team. It’s nice to see him every once in a while to at least talk to his teammates and what have you, but it’s tough for sure.”


THURSDAY’S PRACTICE
22 Johan Larsson
82 Marcus Foligno – 84 Philip Varone
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 59 Tim Schaller – 19 Cody Hodgson
49 Jerry D’Amigo – 37 Matt Ellis – 20 Zac Dalpe

6 Mike Weber – 47 Zach Bogosian
41 Andrej Meszaros – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
51 Nikita Zadorov – 24 Tyson Strachan
61 Andre Benoit

35 Anders Lindback
31 Matt Hackett

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