After a 1-0 victory over the reigning Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, Buffalo Sabres coach Ted Nolan will have some lineup decisions to make come Thursday night when the Calgary Flames are in town.
Chris Stewart found himself on the outside looking in as a healthy scratch. It’s yet to be determined if he’ll play Thursday or not.
“That’s the toughest part. We’ve got 20 guys that played their hearts out last night and played hard,” Nolan said. “Now we’re talking about a healthy scratch is one thing – but those things are part of the game. The guys who played last night played hard.”
Stewart has three goals and an assist in 27 games this season. Two of those goals have come in his past six games.
“I’ve got to elevate my play,” Stewart said after practice at First Niagara Center where he was one of the last players off the ice. “I’m not happy with my play either. You can talk about it, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to be about it.”
At 6-foot-2, 231 pounds, Stewart has shown that he can be a big, physical force that can contribute offensively. He’s scored at least 15 goals five times in his seven-year career and put in 28 back in both 2009-10 and 2010-11. Nolan wants to see him contribute as an integral part of the team.
“He’ll rebound. He’s a pro. He’s a powerful forward in this League,” Nolan said. “He’s a good player and when I said ‘soft’ the other day, sometimes people, like in that commercial on TV, you take it literally. ‘I want a million bucks’ and a whole bunch of deer show up.
“I didn’t mean he was soft. I meant we need him playing harder as a power forward.”
Tyler Ennis, who scored the game winner against L.A., was given a maintenance day so Stewart took his place in practice on the team’s top line. On the first power-play unit, Brian Flynn filled in.
“It was an acknowledgement of ‘Let’s try. Let’s try something else.’ The one thing about Flynn, he’s a very intelligent player,” Nolan said. “He can adapt, he can be on penalty kills. He’s on the last minute of play for us a lot of times. He’s very reliable, he’s dependable and he’s very, very intelligent. You need intelligent people on the power play.”
Andrej Meszaros was a full participant in practice. He sustained a concussion on Nov. 28 but has been cleared for full activity.
Tyson Strachan missed another day of practice. He hasn’t played in the past two games due to a lower-body injury and Nolan said they’ll take their time in bringing him back to full speed.
Jhonas Enroth will start in goal after a 34-save shutout performance on Tuesday.
26 Matt Moulson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 80 Chris Stewart
65 Brian Flynn – 17 Torrey Mitchell – 12 Brian Gionta
82 Marcus Foligno – 19 Cody Hodgson – 21 Drew Stafford
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 8 Cody McCormick – 36 Patrick Kaleta
4 Josh Gorges – 57 Tyler Myers
51 Nikita Zadorov – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Mike Weber – 61 Andre Benoit
41 Andrej Meszaros
1 Jhonas Enroth
34 Michal Neuvirth
Did Not Practice: 24 Tyson Strachan (injured, lower body), 31 Matt Hackett (injured reserve, knee), 63 Tyler Ennis (maintenance day)