With center Cody McCormick
going through concussion protocol, the Buffalo Sabres will need someone to center his line with Marcus Foligno
and Chris Stewart
Coach Ted Nolan said he’ll continue to have discussions with general manager Tim Murray about a possible call-up, but for now it looks as if Patrick Kaleta will get his first taste of center ice.
Kaleta has played only in one game this season since returning from injury and has been a healthy scratch the past three games.
“He’s been waiting to get in so we’ll maybe see how that works,” Nolan said. “He’s eager to play. He likes to track people. He wants to get in there and contribute. We’ll work him in – not defensive zone faceoffs and so forth – but for an energy guy, that’s exactly what we need.”
The Rochester Americans, Buffalo’s American Hockey League affiliate, are on the same schedule as the Sabres this week, playing on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Buffalo is riding a three-game winning streak into their home game Wednesday night against the Winnipeg Jets.
Rookie Nicolas Deslauriers has two points over that stretch and talked to Sabres.com about the positive vibe in the dressing room as of late.
“Right now on the winning streak, everything’s been awesome. The boys have fun playing hockey and for my side, I’m still just a young kid and I want to prove myself,” he said. “Every time I step on the ice, I want to do something good for the team and for myself. It’s been going good.”
Nolan knows there is still a lot of work ahead, but it’s nice to see the team finally get some positive results for the work they’ve been putting in.
“I saw what we were doing three weeks ago, four weeks ago, it just wasn’t working. It doesn’t mean we weren’t attempting to do it. We were just trying to find our footing. Everybody was trying to find their niche,” Nolan said.
“It took us a little while to get our footing down so right now, I guess the biggest thing is now they feel confidence within their own ability and playing with a lot of confidence.”
A WEEKEND RETURN?
Josh Gorges, who sustained a lower-body injury on Nov. 11 practiced with the team for the first time since the injury occurred. He skated on his own on Monday and was only expected to take the ice for a few minutes on Tuesday.
However, he was out with the team for the duration of the practice and participated in many of the drills.
“As a player and as a competitor, you want to be out there. There’s nothing worse than sitting on the sidelines, watching your team go to battle without you,” he said. “To be able to go out there and get back into practice and do some drills – and just be out there with the guys – was encouraging for myself and we’ll push forward and push for tomorrow. We’ll see how things go then.”
He’s hoping to be back this weekend when the Sabres play back-to-back games against his former club, the Montreal Canadiens but it is taking his recovery day by day.
Even in the short time he’s been out, he’s noticed a difference in the team’s demeanor.
“From what I can see, the hesitation has gone away,” he said. “We’re not sitting back, waiting for things to happen, to see what the other team’s going to do and then chase the game after that.
“We’re aggressive, we’re jumping on pucks, we’re forcing plays. We’re making the other teams try to adapt to what we want to do and I think that’s something we’re going to have to continue doing if we want to be successful.”
26 Matt Moulson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 63 Tyler Ennis
65 Brian Flynn – 17 Torrey Mitchell – 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 19 Cody Hodgson – 21 Drew Stafford
82 Marcus Foligno – 36 Patrick Kaleta – 80 Chris Stewart
24 Tyson Strachan – 57 Tyler Myers
51 Nikita Zadorov – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Mike Weber – 41 Andrej Meszaros
4 Josh Gorges – 61 Andre Benoit
1 Jhonas Enroth
34 Michal Neuvirth
31 Matt Hackett
Did Not Practice: 8 Cody McCormick (injured, concussion protocol)