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Eichel, Rodrigues practice with Sabres

Centermen will be re-evaluated prior to Saturday's game

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Buffalo Sabres coach Ralph Krueger described the status of captain Jack Eichel as day-to-day after the forward participated in practice with the team at KeyBank Center on Friday. 

Eichel was ruled out with an upper-body injury prior to the start of Buffalo's game in Philadelphia on Thursday. Krueger said the situation developed while Eichel was on the ice for warmups. 

The Sabres have two games remaining prior to the Christmas break, beginning with a matinee against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. 

"It remains a day-to-day," Krueger said. "… He was out there practicing, and we'll make that call tomorrow."

Eichel's absence ended his point streak at 17 games, one shy of Gilbert Perreault's franchise record. He led the NHL with 31 points, 16 goals, and a plus-17 rating in that span. 

"It's obviously frustrating," Eichel said. "You never want to not be on the ice with the team. I'm a competitive guy, I want to be out there every night. But I thought it was the best for me at that time."

Evan Rodrigues also practiced after taking a shot off his leg that forced him to leave the game against the Flyers in the third period. Krueger said the assessment of Rodrigues' injury on Friday was positive, but his status will also be re-evaluated Saturday morning. 

Johan Larsson, who left the game in Philadelphia during the second period, remained absent with an upper-body injury. Though the injury is not considered serious, Krueger said the centerman will mess the next two games leading into the break.

"It's obviously nothing that serious but he's a tough guy," Krueger said. "He worked and tried to go through it yesterday and we found it was better to pull him."

The Sabres recalled Curtis Lazar on Friday morning to round out the 12-man forward group. Lazar stepped right into Larsson's slot centering a line with Zemgus Girgensons and Kyle Okposo, which has served as a tone-setting trio for the team all season. 

"The games I watch - and I try to watch as many as I can - I think that is a pretty good fit for me because I like to keep it simple and it's effective," Lazar said. 

"I think you see what those guys have been able to do, not only chipping in the offense but just shutting down other teams' top lines, killing penalties, and kind of accepting that role. I think that's something I'm going to try and help out with."

Lazar previously appeared in six games for the Sabres, though he spent those outings on the wing. He returned to center, his natural position, in Rochester's last four contests and felt positive effects.

"Just being around that puck," Lazar said. "I really like to move my feet through the dots and get on that forecheck. But it's being around it, supporting it, and just kind of, I guess, watching everything develop and being callous in the D-zone. It's a lot of stuff I take pride in, and I feel like I excel at that."

Here's how the Sabres lined up in full on Friday:

68 Victor Olofsson - 9 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
53 Jeff Skinner - 90 Marcus Johansson - 74 Rasmus Asplund
13 Jimmy Vesey - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 43 Conor Sheary
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 27 Curtis Lazar - 21 Kyle Okposo

26 Rasmus Dahlin - 4 Zach Bogosian 
6 Marco Scandella - 10 Henri Jokiharju 
19 Jake McCabe - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen 
33 Colin Miller - 62 Brandon Montour 

35 Linus Ullmark
40 Carter Hutton

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