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Sabres return to practice with deadline looming

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

While there were no surprise absences at practice for the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday morning, there was undoubtedly a hint of uncertainty. The 3 p.m. traded deadline is quickly approaching, leaving the question as to whether or not all of the players on the ice would still be in Buffalo come Thursday.

"A little of that lingers with the impending three o'clock deadline," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "But you treat the situation and the players like they're going to be there tomorrow and going forward." 

It's an especially uncomfortable time for players set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season, of which the Sabres have four: Anders Nilsson, Brian Gionta, Cody Franson and Dmitry Kulikov. 

"For guys like myself there's definitely a little more stress to it and things like that," Franson said. "As a player you can only control certain things and being moved or being kept is something that's not really in our hands. All we can do is focus on our play and what we're doing on the ice and you hope for the best on the other side of things."

Franson has been traded once before - from Toronto to Nashville during the 2014-15 season - but a new wrinkle has been added to his situation at this deadline. The defenseman is a father now, a factor he hadn't had to deal with the first time he was dealt.

"When kids come into the equation, it makes things a little different but having that experience definitely does help keep the stress level down a little bit," he said.

Moving forward with the mindset that the team on the ice would still be there when the Sabres host the Coyotes on Thursday, Dan Bylsma shuffled his lines in an effort to snap the team's four-game losing streak. 

"It hasn't worked," Bylsma said. "It hasn't been very good, frankly. We have minuses and goals against so I think it'd be sill to stay with the status quo and hope for a different change."

Here's how the full lineup looked at practice on Wednesday:

26 Matt Moulson - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
82 Marcus Foligno - 15 Jack Eichel - 12 Brian Gionta
9 Evander Kane - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 23 Sam Reinhart 
63 Tyler Ennis - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 56 Justin Bailey

Defensemen: 55 Rasmus Ristolainen, 29 Jake McCabe, 4 Josh Gorges, 6 Cody Franson, 77 Dmitry Kulikov, 47 Zach Bogosian, 41 Justin Falk (Nicolas Deslauriers also skated reps on defense)

40 Robin Lehner
31 Anders Nilsson


Update on Will Carrier

Bylsma said that Carrier, who has been out since Feb. 4 with a bone bruise, has not progressed as the team had hoped and remains off the ice. 

"I probably don't have the exact medical terminology, but that's what it is," Bylsma said when asked if the injury was still being classified as a bone bruise. "He's, right now, staying off his leg and not putting any weight on it."

Carrier has six points (4+2) in 35 games this season, his first in the NHL.

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