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Trio of forwards return to practice

Eichel, Frolik, and Okposo all expected to be available Saturday

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Michael Frolik feels ready to play after missing the last two games with an illness. 

Frolik was back with the Sabres for practice at KeyBank Center on Friday along with fellow forwards Jack Eichel and Kyle Okposo, both of whom took maintenance days Thursday. Coach Ralph Krueger said he expects all three players to be available for the team's game in Pittsburgh on Saturday. 

"We'll see how the day goes, but at the moment everybody's available which gives us some good options for tomorrow," Krueger said. 

Video: Sabres in :50 - Eichel returns

Frolik said he was bedridden for the first few days of his illness, the symptoms of which included a sore throat, burning chest, and a high fever. 

"I felt a little better, but I woke up every morning and the fever was still there," he said. "I was kind of getting frustrated but the doctors and everything, they gave me antibiotics and they slowed it down. They did a good job here."

With all three players healthy, the Sabres have 13 forwards available on their NHL roster. Frolik took first reps in line rushes alongside Jeff Skinner and Curtis Lazar, with Evan Rodrigues rotating in on ensuing repetitions. Scott Wilson was assigned to Rochester after practice.  

Video: AFTER PRACTICE: Krueger

"We have some depth right now in our roster if everybody wakes up healthy tomorrow morning," Krueger said. "It's an exciting situation for the coaches. We have that internal competition that I spoke about early in the season that we hunger for. We have that. It pushes the guys that are playing also. 

"Whether Evan is playing or not tomorrow, he has definitely stepped up within the game that we want to see players play and the habits are becoming more natural to him. He's been a good addition. He can play wing, he can play up the middle, he can add to our PK and help on the power play. So, that's a versatile player that's good for our depth right now."


Onto Pittsburgh

Tomorrow's game will conclude the Sabres' season series with the Penguins, which began with a 3-1 win in Pittsburgh on opening night.

Krueger revisited that game Thursday and saw the identity the Sabres are still looking to establish on a consistent basis. 

"I went through that game yesterday and looked at a bunch of clips with the coaches this morning," Krueger said. "It was quite astounding out of training camp, the habits that we showed and the energy we had and the speed with which we played. That keeps popping up but, again, at least we have that picture in our heads. We feel when we're asking the players questions, they're giving us the right answers right now and that they see that game in their heads. 

"We just need to continue to work on the execution behind it. It is hard work and it is grueling mentally and physically to stay in that game. That's what we continue to work on here. But that first game, truly going back and looking at it, was quite an amazing performance coming out of training camp and, yeah, it continues to be one of the benchmarks of the season was that one."

Coverage on MSG begins Saturday afternoon at 12:30. Puck drop is scheduled for 1. 


Lines at Friday's practice

68 Victor Olofsson - 9 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
13 Jimmy Vesey - 90 Marcus Johansson - 43 Conor Sheary
53 Jeff Skinner - 27 Curtis Lazar - 67 Michael Frolik / 71 Evan Rodrigues
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 22 Johan Larsson - 21 Kyle Okposo

62 Brandon Montour - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
19 Jake McCabe - 10 Henri Jokiharju
26 Rasmus Dahlin - 33 Colin Miller 
58 John Gilmour 

40 Carter Hutton 
34 Jonas Johansson

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