Jack Eichel wasn't at practice with the Buffalo Sabres on Monday morning, but he wasn't sick at home, either. Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said that the rookie forward was feeling much better than he was on Saturday, when sudden sickness caused him to miss a game that night against Toronto.
Bylsma said he expects Eichel back in the lineup in Carolina on Tuesday night.
"Jack is a lot better and will be going on the trip with us," Bylsma said. "He was a lot better yesterday, just seeing the doctor this morning so [he] missed practice."
With all the questions Eichel has faced this season regarding the physical and mental demands of an 82-game season on a 19-year-old rookie, there's a bit of irony in the fact that what caused him to finally miss a game – with only 10 to go at the time, no less – might have been a bad meal.
"He had something to eat at the hotel and by four in the morning he was not doing very good," Bylsma said."Other people ate the same thing Jack ate at the hotel when we got there so I'm not quite sure it was food poisoning, but that's what it looked like."
Rookie forward Daniel Catenacci, who replaced Eichel in the lineup in Toronto on Saturday, was re-assigned to Rochester on Sunday morning. The Sabres practiced with 11 forwards on Monday, using assistant coach Dan Lambert as a fourth-line substitute on some drills.
Goalies Robin Lehner (ankle) and Jason Kasdorf (groin) were also absent from practice. Lehner has missed two games with lingering issues from the high ankle sprain that cost him the first three months of the season, while Kasdorf has yet to practice since signing an entry-level contract last Monday.
Neither goaltender traveled to Carolina. Bylsma said that he still hopes to see Kasdorf practice with the team at some point, but added that he remains in the off-ice rehabilitation stage of his injury. As for Lehner, he said, the team is simply proceeding with caution.
"Just want to take it slow," Bylsma said. "You're dealing with the ankle, [a] continuing of the ankle sprain. He could tape it up and try today and see how the tweak goes or see where it's at, but really kind of taking a full rest and recovery at this time."
Bylsma also provided updates on two Sabres in the midst of dealing with long-term injuries. Defenseman Cody Franson has missed 14 games with a neck injury while forward Tyler Ennis has missed 36 with a concussion.
"Franson's off the ice and really kind of in a holding pattern for how he's feeling," Bylsma said.
"Tyler's doing quite well, is improving, worked out and skated this morning so he's doing better and better [with] hopes of maybe moving in a positive direction in the next seven days."
DESLAURIERS BACK ON TOP
Nicolas Deslauriers joked on Saturday that the reason he celebrates so enthusiastically when he scores is because, as a fourth-line wing, he never knows if it's going to be his last goal. He had plenty of chances to unleash those signature celebrations on Monday, however, during an end-of-practice shootout.
Brian Duff has the full scoop on that shootout in Monday's Sabres in :90, embedded above. It went 16 rounds, including Deslauriers scoring on his first four attemps.
When he finally did miss, Marcus Foligno – who was on the opposing team – yelled that it was Deslauriers' "longest shift ever," shouting for somebody to grab him some water. Judging by how line rushes went on Monday, the timing was fitting.
Deslauriers was back on the top line alongside Ryan O'Reilly and Evander Kane, where he had played – and scored – against the Ottawa Senators on Friday. He had been switched to the fourth line and replaced at the top by Matt Moulson to begin Saturday's game, but switched back by the third period.
Deslauriers, who has 10 goals this season, previously scored twice on a line with O'Reilly at the end of October. For the time being, it appears he'll get more opportunities in that spot.
"I think I'm the kind of guy that can move up and down the lineup," Deslauriers said Saturday. "I accept my role and I know what I have to bring. If I go on a checking line I know I just have to play my game and if it's more on line or something else like that I just have to bring the same thing."
The Sabres were rightfully disappointed after a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. It was an uncharacteristic effort from a team that hadn't lost a game by more than two goals since Feb. 19.
The pace and tone of practice on Monday, however, suggested that the team had put that game in their rearview mirror with their sights set on finishing strong in the final nine games of the season.
"It was extremely disappointing, there's no way around that," captain Brian Gionta said. "But when you come back in today you've got to forget it and move on just like any other game … I thought we had good jump today."
9 Evander Kane – 90 Ryan O'Reilly – 44 Nicolas Deslauriers
82 Marcus Foligno – 22 Johan Larsson – 12 Brian Gionta
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 19 Cal O'Reilly – 23 Sam Reinhart
17 David Legwand – 26 Matt Moulson
4 Josh Gorges – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
29 Jake McCabe – 47 Zach Bogosian
25 Carlo Colaiacovo – 3 Mark Pysyk
31 Chad Johnson
50 Nathan Lieuwen