UPDATE (3:17 p.m.):
The Sabres have assigned to Tim Schaller
to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.
With nine games remaining in the season, the Buffalo Sabres hope to get two players back from injury for their game Thursday night against the Arizona Coyotes.
Defenseman Zach Bogosian and forward Patrick Kaleta are just waiting for medical clearance before they can return to the lineup.
Bogosian, who has consistently been Buffalo’s ice-time leader since he joined the team last month, has missed the past six games with a lower-body injury. He was a full participant at practice on Wednesday at First Niagara Center and hopes to be back for the 7 p.m. faceoff against Arizona.
“It’s felt good. I think getting back with the team is obviously a step in the right direction. It felt nice to be out there,” he said. “We’ll see tomorrow. I still need to talk to the medical staff and go from there. But I’m optimistic.”
If Bogosian does return, the Sabres will have seven healthy defensemen, requiring them to sit one on the blue line. Nolan said he and the coaching staff have an idea as to which player is most likely to be scratched, but didn’t elaborate.
Kaleta had surgery to remove a bone chip from his knee in mid-February and has spent the past several weeks rehabbing. He said he’s scheduled to have one more checkup with doctors Thursday morning.
“I’m skating 100 times better than when I was playing for the 33 games that I’ve played this season,” he said. “I feel better. I feel like I can actually start beating people with my speed again. Obviously nine games is tough to get in the swing of things, but my heart is in Buffalo and all I want to do is play for the Sabres.”
Matt Hackett could start in goal for Buffalo, but Sabres coach Ted Nolan is going to continue to be cautious with Hackett’s health.
Hackett is coming off major off-season surgery on his right knee and while he’s worked hard to get himself back to the NHL, he’s still dealing with some soreness after games. Hackett has played 14 games for the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League and three games for Buffalo.
“He fought through a long recovery period and to throw him in when he’s a little bit sore would be jeopardizing that situation again,” Nolan said. “We’ll make sure it’s 100 percent before we put him and we’ll rely on our medical team for sure.”
In his last start on Saturday, he stopped 40 shots on the road against the Nashville Predators. The coaching staff could have put him in again on Monday in Dallas, but decided to give him some extra rest.
“I always want to play. With my knee right now, where it’s at, I’ve got to take my rest when I can,” Hackett said. “It’s just too difficult in this League to play back-to-back especially, so I’ve just got to keep icing it and make it’s ready for whenever I get in next.”
Jerry D’Amigo missed practice again and Nolan did not have an update as to his status. D’Amigo took a high stick to the mouth on Saturday and while he was able to return to that game wearing a full cage, he missed the game in Dallas as he underwent further medical evaluations.
26 Matt Moulson – 22 Johan Larsson – 63 Tyler Ennis
82 Marcus Foligno – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 12 Brian Gionta
20 Zac Dalpe – 84 Philip Varone – 19 Cody Hodgson
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 59 Tim Schaller – 37 Matt Ellis – 36 Patrick Kaleta
Defensemen: 6 Mike Weber, 24 Tyson Strachan, 41 Andrej Meszaros, 47 Zach Bogosian, 51 Nikita Zadorov, 55 Rasmus Ristolainen, 61 Andre Benoit
31 Matt Hackett
35 Anders Lindback