Buffalo Sabres coach Ted Nolan will wait and see on the status of a few of his players heading into a two-game road trip to the Sunshine State.
Prior to departing for Saturday afternoon’s game against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center, the team practiced at First Niagara Center on Friday. Forward Tyler Ennis was absent after missing Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury, but defenseman Tyson Strachan was back skating with the team.
Strachan has missed the past three games due to an infection. Both players will make the trip, but Nolan wasn’t sure if they’ll be cleared to play by Saturday.
The Sabres will then play in Tampa on Tuesday, a day after the NHL Trade Deadline. The deadline is set for 3 p.m. on Monday, which could further shake up the composition of the roster.
CALL-UPS STEPPING UP
In the absence of Buffalo’s leading scorers Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons – who will miss a few weeks with a lower-body injury – the Sabres have relied on help from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.
Right wing Zac Dalpe and center Philip Varone were called up to play in the 6-3 win over the Canucks on Thursday and they impressed their teammates with the energy they were able to bring to the lineup.
Dalpe skated 12:06 with a shot on goal and Varone played 14:03 with a shot as well. Johan Larsson skated with them on the left wing.
The two most recent call-ups played their third game in three nights after back-to-back games with the Amerks. Dalpe feels like he got a little extra boost playing against Vancouver, his favorite childhood team and former club.
“Playing against the old team, you found some legs and I thought I was good at times. Our line was good in the second period,” he said. “A couple times we needed to get the puck deep and we didn’t so we just need to limit those turnovers and we’ll be fine.”
Goaltender Anders Lindback, who was acquired by the team in a trade on Feb. 11 from the Dallas Stars, showed off some new gear. He wore a new pair of pads with a new glove and blocker at the morning skate on Thursday.
On Friday, he wore a newly painted mask.
BLUE LINE CHANGES?
On the defensive front, Nikita Zadorov practiced with Andrej Meszaros and on the second-power play unit. Mark Pysyk had been in that spot, but he skated with Strachan at practice and didn’t practice with the special teams.
Later in the afernoon, Pysyk was sent back to Rochester, which means Zadorov will more than likely be back in the lineup.
Zadorov has been a healthy scratch the past three games after being late for a team meeting on Sunday.
Meszaros, who scored against Vancouver to put the team ahead in the third period, has thought the team has played better in the defensive zone and that call-ups like Pysyk and Jake McCabe – who has since been sent back to Rochester – have done a nice job filling in.
In addition to Strachan being out, the team has also lost Josh Gorges for the year after he had surgery to mend a lower-body injury and had been without Mike Weber for a pair of games due to an upper-body injury.
“I feel good. I think the team is playing well and the two young guys who got called up, they played really solid and it was great to see,” Meszaros said. “It’s a battle and about the effort. Everybody’s buying in now and having fun and we’re winning games.”
Buffalo is 3-1-2 in its past six games and will look to build on that. The Tops Game Night pregame show will begin at 2:30 p.m. on MSG-B and Bell with puck drop scheduled for 3 p.m. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.
80 Chris Stewart – 65 Brian Flynn – 82 Marcus Foligno
26 Matt Moulson – 17 Torrey Mitchell – 12 Brian Gionta
22 Johan Larsson – 84 Philip Varone – 20 Zac Dalpe
19 Cody Hodgson – 37 Matt Ellis – 44 Nicolas Deslauriers
61 Andre Benoit – 47 Zach Bogosian
6 Mike Weber – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
51 Nikita Zadorov – 41 Andrej Meszaros
24 Tyson Strachan – 3 Mark Pysyk
34 Michal Neuvirth
35 Anders Lindback