Mark Pysyk left Buffalo’s preseason game on Tuesday with an upper-body injury after his first shift and coach Ted Nolan re-affirmed Wednesday morning that Pysyk did not sustain a long-term injury. The 22-year-old blueliner, however, could be out for as long as two weeks, according to Nolan. Pysyk did not partake in either of the Sabres two practice sessions on Wednesday at First Niagara Center.
“It’s unfortunate for the guy who got hurt, but all of a sudden, the door opens for the guy who’s battling with him,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “Now, a couple others will have the chance to play a little bit more exhibition games than they previously thought. It’s an opportunity for them to try to grab it while Mark’s mending. But when Mark gets back, he’ll have that same opportunity.”
As to which players will best be served developing in the minors or in juniors, Nolan said those discussions will happen soon between the coaching staff and general manager’s Tim Murray’s front office personnel.
Jake McCabe, who is entering his first professional season after three years at the University of Wisconsin, is one of those players that could be considered “on the bubble.” However, McCabe isn’t worried about where he play slot or how many roster spots on the defense might be available. He’s focused on his own game and making the right adjustments that will help him in the long run.
WATCH: McCABE INTERVIEW
“I try not to look too much into it. I try to play my game. I want to be a good two-way defensemen, be good in my own end and contribute offensively as well,” he said. “You look at our defensive depth in this organization, it’s a good thing. I’m a young guy. It’s my first year pro so I’m really kind of adjusting to this lifestyle and this season. It’s going to be a long season compared to the last three years in college.”
STRUCTURE & DISCIPLINE
Buffalo will have Thursday off as the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game will be held at First Niagara Center that night.
Nolan said the team will likely make a few more cuts before then. Before the team left for the day, Nolan left them with an important message that focused on the two main tenets of this training camp.
“I told the guys today on the ice, ‘Everything in life, you need structure. You need discipline,’” Nolan said. “’If you haven’t got a map to go somewhere, there’s a good chance you’re going to get lost.’ So want to make sure our map on the ice, everybody knows the five guys are working as one all the time we’re out there.”
“Structure” and “discipline,” in fact, are two of the words that are featured on the players’ training camp T-shirts.
The Sabres host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday at 7 p.m. with the Blue & Gold Carpet event starting at 5 p.m.
LEMIEUX’S LEARNING CURVE
It can take time for young players to adjust to the speed and physicality of the NHL game. Brendan Lemieux, the 31st overall pick in this year’s draft, said he felt he was able to handle both pretty well in his first game action against professionals on Tuesday.
“Both areas I felt really comfortable in. The pace of the game was definitely something I could keep up with,” he said. “I played [11:32] and I felt like I had a lot of gas in the tank. I was happy with the way our line played.”
He skated with Mikhail Grigorenko, a skilled young center, and Patrick Kaleta, who hadn’t played since late November due to a knee injury. Kaleta had mentioned feeling both excited and nervous about playing in his first game since getting hurt. Lemieux said Kaleta’s enthusiasm rubbed off on him a bit.
WATCH: LEMIEUX INTERVIEW
“We definitely both were in a similar situation. I was playing my first game. He hadn’t been playing in a while. We’re both fighting battling for spots and it was fun to play with him,” Lemieux said.
“A lot of veteran guys can be more relaxed. You can never really understand how well they’re into the game, but Pat was really into it. Actually, I was really surprised at how most of the veterans were really into it last night. It made a fun environment for me in my first game.”
A NOTICEABLE DIFFERENCE
defenseman Mike Weber talked to Sabres.com about how the new veteran additions to the roster can help instill a sense of accountability in the dressing room and on the ice:
“I think our room’s already changed a lot since camp," Weber said. "Obviously after the trade deadline, we lost a couple key veteran guys who held the room together. Brining back a guy like [Matt] Moulson, bringing in guys like Gio [Brian Gionta] and [Josh] Gorges have really solidified our leadership core and just moving forward, everyone’s got to take a little bit of responsibility upon themselves to make sure individually, they’re ready and that the rest of the other guys are ready.”
The team’s next three preseason games will be televised on MSG in the Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse markets. For the Sabres’ games against Toronto on Sept. 26 and Sept. 28, MSG will be carrying Sportsnet’s telecasts of the home-and-home series.
MSG will broadcast the Sabres-Capitals game on Oct. 1 from First Niagara Center in Buffalo.
All the remaining preseason games will be broadcast on WGR 550, the official radio partner of the Sabres, with Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray on the call.