Nathan Lieuwen will be back between the pipes for the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday when they host the New Jersey Devils at First Niagara Center at 7 p.m.
It will be Lieuewen’s third career start and fifth appearance with Buffalo this season. He’s seeking his NHL victory and Sabres coach Ted Nolan would like to see him play with a little bit more of an edge.
“I think he needs to be a little bit more aggressive. He’s got the tactical aspect down, but the one thing we always say with forward, you want to see how competitive you are,” Nolan said after the team’s morning skate. “And it’s the same thing with goaltenders. You have to be competitive. You have to come out, you have to challenge. You have to get out like you want to stop the puck no matter where it’s at. We want to see a little more of that.”
Nicolas Deslauriers will not play. He missed practice on Monday because his wife gave birth to their daughter. He skated with the team on Tuesday, but Nolan decided to give him a little bit more rest.
“Nic’s a proud poppa and he didn’t have too much sleep the last day or so,” Nolan said. “So he’ll spend some time with his newborn and his wife and he’ll be back and ready to go tomorrow.”
Ville Leino, who missed Buffalo’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning while being treated for a migraine, will be ready to play.
After dropping a 6-1 decision in Nashville on Thursday, the Sabres put together a pretty strong effort against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday at home. Alternate captain Christian Ehrhoff thinks the team took Nolan’s message from that Predators game to heart.
“Obviously that was a game that all of us didn’t like and I think we bounced back pretty good,” he said. “Tonight it’s up to us to continue that effort.”
Rookie defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen logged a career-high 24:45 of ice time Saturday night. Ristolainen is currently on emergency recall from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League because Tyler Myers is out due to injury.
He played 19 games with the Sabres to start the season, but was sent down to Rochester in November.
“You see his maturity. Some people mature really quick but you don’t want to put them in a position too quickly, either. I thought maybe the start of the season was a little too quick for the guy.”
In that time, he’s logged big minutes with the Amerks and participated in the World Junior Championships, where he scored the gold medal-winning goal for Team Finland. Nolan thinks that Ristolainen has really benefited from that extra development.
“Those are the types of things that are really crucial to your development and playing in good environments and winning,” he said.
Nolan said he had a good chat with Ristolainen on Monday. The talk focused on some of the things the 19-year-old defenseman should focus on over the summer, including lots of work improving his strength and conditioning.
“If he gets a good summer under his belt, hopefully he’ll never see the minors again,” Nolan said.
Nolan said that Myers isn’t too close to returning nor are goaltenders Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth.
Myers crashed into a goal post on March 25 in Montreal, a game after returning from missing time with an elbow injury.
Neuvirth made his last start on March 13 in Carolina and woke up unusually sore the next morning. He backed Enroth up on March 15, but has not dressed since.
Enroth was run into by Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher on March 16 and sustained a lower-body injury. Nolan said Enroth stepped onto the ice Tuesday morning, but is still “a long ways away.”
Buffalo is also without Chris Stewart, Torrey Mitchell, Zenon Konopka and Alexander Sulzer.
88 Cory Conacher – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
19 Cody Hodgson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 65 Brian Flynn
82 Marcus Foligno – 22 Johan Larsson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
32 John Scott – 37 Matt Ellis – 23 Ville Leino
10 Christian Ehrhoff – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain
20 Henrik Tallinder – 5 Chad Ruhwedel
50 Nathan Lieuwen
31 Matt Hackett