Yet another injury has bitten the Buffalo Sabres, and again it comes to one of their forwards. The good news about the upper-body injury that Sam Reinhart sustained in Colorado on Wednesday, according to Sabres coach Dan Bylsma, is that it is only expected to keep him out a week.
Reinhart was one of two notable absences at the Sabres' morning skate on Friday, the other being defenseman Josh Gorges. Neither will play against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night as the team looks to rebound from their disappointing 2-1 loss to the Avalanche.
Reinhart left the game in Colorado with 5:56 remaining in the second period after a collision with John Mitchell at center ice and did not return. Gorges played 17:52 in that game but, according to Bylsma, re-aggravated the upper-body injury that had caused him to miss the two previous games.
Jake McCabe will slot back into the Sabres' defense in Gorges' place after sitting as a healthy scratch against the Avalanche. Cal O'Reilly was recalled from Rochester on Friday morning to fill Reinhart's spot in the lineup.
O'Reilly played two games with Buffalo in December, tallying an assist in a 3-0 win over Anaheim on Dec. 17. He has 23 points (4+19) in 35 games with the Amerks this season.
"I left feeling pretty good last time I was up," O'Reilly said. "I think I just want to come here and build off that with as much ice time as I can get and contribute and show that I can play."
He'll likely see more ice time than he did playing on the fourth line in his last stint in Buffalo, when he averaged 6:36 per game. O'Reilly skated on a line with Jack Eichel and Jamie McGinn on Friday morning and even practiced with the Sabres' second power-play unit.
"He's really a versatile guy," Bylsma said. "He could probably see himself at the wing position tonight and playing center as well. He's a guy who you feel confident playing probably in any situation tonight and he's a skilled player. He has the ability to control the puck, make plays. We saw that last game."
O'Reilly is the third forward to be recalled this month due to injuries. Tim Schaller was recalled on Jan. 4 after Tyler Ennis and Nicolas Deslauriers were hurt in the same week and Philip Varone joined the team after Zemgus Girgensons sustained an injury against Boston on Jan. 15. Girgensons was placed on injured reserve to make room for O'Reilly.
Having spent most of the season with O'Reilly as his captain in Rochester, Varone said that he knows what to expect from him against Detroit.
"He's just a very smart player," Varone said. "He brings a lot of confidence with the puck, makes plays, passes, so I don’t expect him to change much. He's probably going to play the same way he does in Rochester."
Coverage on Friday begins at 6:30 p.m. with Tops Sabres Gamenight on MSG-B and Bell TV. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.
Matt Moulson will have an opportunity to reignite his offensive game on Friday, filling in Reinhart's spot on the Sabres' top line with Evander Kane and Ryan O'Reilly. Having not scored a goal since Nov. 1, Moulson said that he's continued to work hard toward ending his slump.
"Obviously they're two great players to I've got to do my best and continue to work," Moulson said. "I think all I can do is put in the work and hopefully it pays off so I've been working to try and improve every day and you just have to translate it over to the game."
Robin Lehner, coming off of a 33-save performance in the loss to the Avalanche, will make his third start in net for the Sabres since returning from a high ankle sprain. He'll oppose Petr Mrazek, who has started all three of Detroit's games against Buffalo this season ,going 2-1-0 with 88 saves on 97 opportunities (.907 save percent).
Here's how Buffalo's lineup appeared in line rushes on Friday:
9 Evander Kane – 90 Ryan O'Reilly – 26 Matt Moulson
19 Cal O'Reilly – 15 Jack Eichel – 88 Jamie McGinn
82 Marcus Foligno – 22 Johan Larsson – 12 Brian Gionta
84 Philip Varone – 59 Tim Schaller – 17 David Legwand
47 Zach Bogosian – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
29 Jake McCabe – 46 Cody Franson
6 Mike Weber – 3 Mark Pysyk
40 Robin Lehner
31 Chad Johnson