CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. - Zach Bogosian is expected to return to the lineup for the Sabres in one of their next two games, coach Ralph Krueger announced Saturday. The team's road trip continues against the Florida Panthers Sunday and concludes in Tampa on Monday.
Bogosian missed all of training camp as he recovered from offseason hip surgery. He skated for roughly a month prior to joining the team for practice on Nov. 13.
"It's nice to be around the group," Bogosian said following practice on Saturday. "I spent a lot of time at home. I love my family, but it was time to get back to work. It's been fun."
The Sabres practiced with eight defensemen Saturday after assigning John Gilmour to Rochester. Bogosian skated on a pair with Rasmus Dahlin, though Krueger affirmed that the pairs might not necessarily reflect what we see against the Panthers on Sunday.
"We're expecting to bring him in this weekend," Krueger said. "We just played with some looks today in practice, but we'll make the final decision after assessing today's practice and make that call tomorrow."
At full health, Buffalo's current depth on defense means two players are being scratched on a nightly basis. Colin Miller sat against the Bruins on Thursday; Marco Scandella was out the game prior.
Krueger said players were prepared for these scenarios in conversations during camp and stressed the need for all eight defensemen moving forward as the Sabres navigate a condensed schedule. Their game in Florida opens a stretch of five contests in seven days.
"It's part of being a team is that you're not always going to like the role you have, the ice time you get, or if you're scratched," Krueger said. "But how do you react to that? How do you still support your teammates?
"So far, we've seen nothing but support from players who haven't been called to play in a game and are watching from the outside. They're the first guys in the room to greet the guys coming off the ice at the end of the game. We need to continue with that spirit."
Granato to return to the bench in Florida
With assistant coach Don Granato ready to resume his role on the Buffalo bench Sunday, Chris Taylor has returned to Rochester and will continue as head coach of the Amerks next week.
Taylor worked as an assistant on Krueger's staff while Granato recovered from a bout with severe pneumonia that hospitalized him in early October.
"I mean, Chris is just an outstanding coach and friend now," Krueger said. "Just really filled into a difficult situation here so strongly. Boy, does it ever help us moving forward to have that connection with Chris now that he's in Rochester and we're interacting regularly.
"I was able to learn a lot from him having him at my side. I love having coaches there that challenge you, that ask hard questions, that speak the truth and he does nothing but that. We enjoyed every minute together and we're connected still, just in different roles in the organization."
Granato, meanwhile, offered perspective on how the experience changed him. He was told by doctors at Buffalo General Hospital he would have minutes to live unless they sedated him, then woke up two days later and began a long road to recovery.
"It enhances your perspective," Granato said. "It gives you more clarity on, for me, more clarity on doing what I love every day. I'm not doing a nine to five job that I look forward to having my weekend at home. When you aren't at the rink and you cannot go to the rink and work with players and even watch video, you realize how much you like and miss it. So, it's a great perspective on that."
In the meantime, Granato offered insights from afar. He credited Krueger and general manager Jason Botterill with still finding ways to keep him involved while not pushing to expedite his return.
"That process was really great for me to feel like I still mattered and I still could contribute something," he said. "But, for those two guys, at your own pace. I never felt pushed and even when I felt that I was comfortable to come back, it was me pushing. I am one hundred percent, I am ready to go."
The Sabres held an up-tempo, high energy session in the wake of their 3-2 loss in Boston. Krueger said after that game that he was pleased with how the team played in that game despite the result, a message he reiterated on Saturday.
"The way the group is processing pain is remarkable," he said. "I mean, we were extremely disappointed with how the result played out in Boston, but what you can see is the guys understand that we don't need to be disappointed with the process that was shown there and that we need to stick with that. You could feel that energy here today."
Marcus Johansson remained absent with his upper-body injury. Here's how the lines and pairs looked:
13 Jimmy Vesey - 9 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
53 Jeff Skinner - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 43 Conor Sheary
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 22 Johan Larsson - 27 Curtis Lazar
37 Casey Mittelstadt - 74 Rasmus Asplund - 68 Victor Olofsson
19 Jake McCabe - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
26 Rasmus Dahlin - 4 Zach Bogosian
33 Colin Miller - 62 Brandon Montour
6 Marco Scandella - 10 Henri Jokiharju
40 Carter Hutton
35 Linus Ullmark