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SABRES DEALING WITH THIN BLUE LINE

by Chris Ryndak / Buffalo Sabres

Through 66 games this season, the Buffalo Sabres have lost 246 man games due to injury. The team is currently carrying seven call-ups from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League, which includes all four centers.

Buffalo could be without two more defensemen when they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

Zach Bogosian and Andrej Meszaros left Saturday’s game in Washington due to injury and neither practiced with the team Monday morning at HARBORCENTER. Meszaros was injured while gloving down a puck midway through the first period while Bogosian left 2:38 into the third period with a lower-body injury.

Sabres coach Ted Nolan said after practice that Bogosian is more likely to play than Meszaros, but they’ll continue to monitor the condition of each player before making a final determination on whether a recall on defense will be needed. Buffalo practiced with five defensemen on Monday.

Missing Bogosian in particular would be a big blow to the team. Heading into Saturday’s game, he’d been eating up a ton of ice time for the Sabres, averaging 26:57 in his 10 games with the team.

With Bogosian and Meszaros out on Saturday, the Sabres defense played shorthanded for most of the game. When Mike Weber went to the box for fighting in the third, Buffalo played with three defensemen and relied on forward Nicolas Deslauriers to take some shifts on the blue line.


PROVIDING SUPPORT
Deslauriers was a defenseman in the Kings organization until last season when he moved to wing. He’s become more comfortable in his new position during this, his first full NHL season, but is glad he can be relied on in a pinch to help out on defense as well.

“Just compared the beginning of the season, I feel way better on the wing,” Deslauriers said. “It’s just like last game, when there’s something going on on the back end, I’m always ready to fill up a spot. Playing as many games as I can builds my confidence and with the coaching staff that’s been supporting me, it’s been a fun year.”

The Sabres have battled a lot of injuries this season, but if recalls have to be made, Weber sees it as another way for young players to try to make a name for themselves and impress the organization.

“It’s tough. So it’s a lot more added ice time for some guys and for other guys, it is an opportunity,” he said. “It’s an honor to play in this League. I’ve always said that I believe it. When you get opportunities to do something maybe a little out of your comfort zone or get more responsibility, it’s a time to show people that you can handle it.

“Obviously, we’re in a tough situation right here now. You’ve just got to find the positives.”


‘THE HOT HAND GOES’
Anders Lindback came into the game in relief on Saturday after Matt Hackett was pulled in the second period of Buffalo’s 6-1 loss in Washington.

“The hot hand goes,” Nolan said without naming a starter for the next game. “We’ll see how it goes.”


SENDING A MESSAGE
To close out the practice, Nolan put the team through some tough skating drills. Buffalo will try to avoid a fifth-straight loss Wednesday in Toronto.

“We can’t have any periods off. We can’t have any shifts off. We have to be the hardest-working team on a game-to-game basis to give ourselves a chance,” Nolan said. “That’s the message here today.”


MONDAY’S PRACTICE
26 Matt Moulson – 22 Johan Larsson – 63 Tyler Ennis
82 Marcus Foligno – 84 Philip Varone – 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 59 Tim Schaller – 19 Cody Hodgson
49 Jerry D’Amigo – 37 Matt Ellis – 20 Zac Dalpe

Defensemen: 6 Mike Weber, 24 Tyson Strachan, 51 Nikita Zadorov, 55 Rasmus Ristolainen, 61 Andre Benoit

35 Anders Lindback
31 Matt Hackett

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