LOS ANGELES - When Taylor Fedun finally walked into the visiting dressing room at Staples Center on Thursday morning, the first question asked of him was one usually reserved for small talk on an elevator: "So, how was the weather?"
Fedun was able to trade the wrath of Winter Storm Stella for sunny California, but not before making a late-night drive from Rochester - where the conditions were so bad that the Amerks had to cancel their game on Wednesday - up to Toronto, and then taking a direct flight to Los Angeles on Thursday morning.
Just as Fedun arrived at the arena, his alma mater, Princeton, fell to Notre Dame on the final shot in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament back in Buffalo. The Sabres, meanwhile, were finishing up their optional morning skate, meaning Fedun wouldn't be getting on the ice.
Needless to say, it had been long 24 hours.
"At least I'm here early enough that I can have some down time and I'm not hopping off the plane and getting right into it," Fedun said. "It can always be worse."
Video: Preview: BUF at LAK (3/16/17)
Fedun will step into the lineup in place of an injured Justin Falk when the Sabres meet the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on Thursday night. It will be his 26th game of the season for Buffalo, but his first since Feb. 12. Fedun has seven assists in 25 NHL games this season and 23 points (8+15) in 29 games for Rochester.
On offense, meanwhile, Hudson Fasching will enter the lineup in place of Justin Bailey. Bailey missed practice on Wednesday due to an injury sustained while blocking a shot in San Jose the night before, but did participate in the morning skate on Thursday.
It will be Fasching's first NHL action since Oct. 30, when a groin injury that had been affecting him since training camp worsened to the point where he was forced to leave early in a game against Winnipeg. The injury has flared up at times since then, limiting him to just 25 games in Rochester.
Still, we know the type of player Fasching can be from his seven-game stint with the Sabres at the end of last season. Coach Dan Bylsma describes him as a power forward who is good along the boards and can command the puck in the offensive zone. His size and style make Fasching an ideal fit against the Kings, the team that drafted him back in 2013.
"They're a very structured team," Fasching said. "They're big, strong, so yeah, for me kind of coming right back in their face [with] big, strong hockey is kind of what I'm looking to do."
"It's a game he fits right into," Bylsma said.
Having made the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons, the Kings currently sit four points back from the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. They've lost their last two games, including a shootout loss to Arizona at home on Tuesday night.
Robin Lehner will get the nod in net for the Sabres, while Jonathan Quick is expected to start for the Kings.
Coverage on Thursday begins at 10 p.m. with the Tops Pregame Show on MSG-B, or you can listen live on WGR 550. The puck drops between the Sabres and Kings at 10:30.
9 Evander Kane - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 12 Brian Gionta
26 Matt Moulson - 15 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
82 Marcus Foligno - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 52 Hudson Fasching
44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 63 Tyler Ennis
Defensemen: 29 Jake McCabe, 55 Rasmus Ristolainen, 4 Josh Gorges, 6 Cody Franson, 47 Zach Bogosian, 38 Taylor Fedun
40 Robin Lehner
31 Anders Nilsson