Looking down the stretch, the opportunity to play a larger role on the team could present itself to members of the Buffalo Sabres.
More trades prior to the March 2 deadline could once again shake up the roster and injuries, an unfortunate reality in the game, could also allow players to step up in big ways.
Defenseman Zach Bogosian was brought in from Winnipeg in a blockbuster deal that sent Tyler Myers, Buffalo’s leader in ice time, to Winnipeg. He’ll be expected to play some hard minutes for Buffalo right away as the team hosts the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday at First Niagara Center at 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN; WGR 550) in his first game in a Sabres uniform.
“As a player, you want to play a lot of minutes. It’s a good situation for me that way,” Bogosian said after the morning skate. “I’m just going to come in, work hard and whatever role I’m given tonight, I’ll be looking forward to it. The more and more you jump over the boards, the more and more comfortable and confident you get.”
In addition to taking some of Myers’ minutes, he’ll also need to pitch in for alternate captain Josh Gorges, who will miss the game due to a lower-body injury. Gorges hasn’t skated with the team since their last game on Tuesday.
He was absent from the morning skate along with Patrick Kaleta, who also has a lower-body injury. Sabres coach Ted Nolan said Sunday that they are each getting second opinions on nagging injuries and they both could be out of the lineup for some time. Johan Larsson has been called up from the American Hockey League because of Kaleta’s injury.
Nolan is trying to limit the minutes 20-year-old Rasmus Ristolainen and 19-year-old Nikita Zadorov are playing for the betterment of their development, so he’ll rely heavily on Bogosian, a seven-year veteran.
“He’s going to get thrown right into the fire. He’s going to play a lot of minutes,” Nolan said. “Plus he’s a big boy and I’m quite sure he’s used to those minutes. Maybe he’s going to look at it a whole different way. Maybe he wasn’t getting as much minutes as he thought before so it won’t be no question about minutes here.”
Larsson is up from the Rochester Americans on his third recall of the season. He’s played in 12 games this year, recording his first NHL goal and an assist.
“I’ve been here before so I’m just going to go up, play hard, compete, try to get a win,” Larsson said.
Nolan expects him step up his game during this call up. He and Larsson had a good discussion during the morning skate.
“Just play. Just play. Players gotta play and don’t worry about nothin’ else – who you’re playing with or how much you’re playing,” Nolan said. “Just play.”
Michal Neuvirth will start in goal for Buffalo.
GOOD TO GO
Chris Stewart missed practice on Saturday due to a flu-like illness, but he was on the ice Sunday morning and will tough it out against the Flyers.
After sitting out the past two games as a healthy scratch, Cody Hodgson will play and his slated to skate on the fourth line with Larsson and Matt Ellis. Hodgson and Nolan also had a lengthy chat on the ice, their first in-depth conversation in about week.
Hodgson has two goals and eight assists in 51 games this year. He led the team in scoring last season with 20 goals and 44 points.
“It’s up to guys, what they want to do when they get on the ice. We’re hoping. It’s been a tough year for Cody for sure and we’ve just got to see if he fights through it,” Nolan said.
“I didn’t speak to him for a while and sometimes, the hardest part about this business is players got to allow themselves to be coached. That’s the hardest part about this job and we just made some suggestions that hopefully he’ll like and make his game better.”
PICK A NUMBER
Bogosian will become the third Buffalo Sabre to ever wear No. 47. Chris Thorburn and Bill Houlder are the others. Bogosian wore No. 44 in Winnipeg and No. 4 in junior, but with both of them taken on the Sabres, he decided to honor his favorite defenseman, Hockey Hall of Famer Chris Chelios.
Bogosian took his No. 4 and slapped Chelios' No. 7 next to it.
"I just liked the way he played. He battled hard every night," Bogosian said. "He competed I had the pleasure of playing with him for a little while in Atlanta as well. He’s just an all-around great guy and he’s someone as an Americans you kind of look up to."
80 Chris Stewart – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 63 Tyler Ennis
26 Matt Moulson – 17 Torrey Mitchell – 12 Brian Gionta
82 Marcus Foligno – 65 Brian Flynn – 44 Nicolas Deslauriers
22 Johan Larsson – 37 Matt Ellis – 19 Cody Hodgson
61 Andre Benoit – 47 Zach Bogosian
51 Nikita Zadorov – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Mike Weber – 41 Andrej Meszaros
34 Michal Neuvirth
35 Anders Lindback
Scratched: 4 Josh Gorges (lower-body injury), 24 Tyson Strachan, 36 Patrick Kaleta (lower-body injury)
Injured Reserve: 8 Cody McCormick (blood clots), Evander Kane (shoulder)