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Bogosian practices following long recovery from hip surgery

Scandella, Johansson to be evaluated prior to Thursday's game

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Zach Bogosian issued a hard hit on fellow defenseman Henri Jokiharju along the KeyBank Center boards, then smiled as he made an announcement to the teammates in his vicinity. 

"I'm back!" 

Bogosian was smiling again later when asked about the play, following his first practice with the Sabres in nearly eight months.

"It just played out that way," he said. "It was just the way the drill was going. It was either that or he was going to go by me. That's probably six, seventh months of built-up excitement."

Video: SABRES IN :50

Bogosian was one of two defensemen to return to practice on Wednesday. Marco Scandella was also a full participant in the roughly 90-minute session, back from a lower-body injury he sustained in New York on Oct. 24. 

Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said there is potential for Scandella to return to the lineup against Carolina on Thursday, and Scandella said he felt ready to play as well. Bogosian remains week-to-week, though the road ahead should seem miniscule compared to what's in his rearview mirror. 

Bogosian last played in Montreal on March 23rd, then underwent surgery on his hip in the offseason. He had already gone through surgery on his other hip once before, in January 2018. 

The defenseman was emotional while describing the support he received from his family through the recovery process. 

"It's really been a learning experience," he said. "I found out a lot about myself. It's something … It's kind of tough to put into words how it feels to go through something like that unless you've been through it. To sit here and try to put it into words would probably give a disservice to everything I've been through and the people who have helped me out so much."

What happens next is essentially an in-season training camp from an on-ice standpoint. Krueger stressed that Bogosian has been present for all home meetings since the start of actual training camp, meaning he's caught up from a tactical standpoint. He's also been skating in Buffalo for roughly a month. 

The next step is putting it all together. 

"Bogo hasn't missed a meeting other than not being with us in Sweden because we felt it was best for him to stay here and train," Krueger said. "He's been involved the whole time, so he understands what we're looking at and what we're trying to do, and I think he'll be able to re-enter and be a candidate quite quickly."

A well-paced, physical session on Wednesday was a good first step. Krueger could see Bogosian's enthusiasm during an on-ice chat after practice had ended. Scandella could see it in the way his fellow defenseman was skating.

"Just being back in the group where it matters and where it counts really was exciting for him today," Krueger said. "That energy may drive him to the very best version of Zach Bogosian, and I think it's going to help a lot because he's been out. There's always a positive on the other side, and that will be the energy that he brings into the room."


Johansson to be evaluated Thursday

Video: AFTER PRACTICE: Krueger

Marcus Johansson did not practice and has been listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Krueger said Johansson's status for Thursday's game against the Hurricanes will be determined in the morning. 

 "We're going to take a look at him tomorrow morning and then make our decision in the morning," Krueger said. "We don't expect it to be long-term. It's really just something we're being careful about."

With Johansson's status in question and Vladimir Sobotka expected to miss four to six weeks as a result of the lower-body injury he sustained in Sweden, the Sabres recalled forward Curtis Lazar prior to practice on Wednesday morning. 

The Sabres signed Lazar, a first-round pick in 2013, to a one-year deal on July 1. He left a strong impression during training camp and, after being one of the last players sent to Rochester, went on to tally nine points in 11 AHL games. 

"I pride myself on coming to the rink and working, working on my game, on my craft," he said. "Especially in the American League, you're always hungry to get back here and I think for myself being able to build off a strong training camp, I know how close that I am. It's been motivation for me."

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Krueger said the decision to recall Lazar was made based on his ability to fill Sobotka's role.

"You look at Sobotka going out and the role that he had until now on the team and the stabilizing factor and the experience that he brings, we felt that that was more important.

"We really liked Curtis in training camp, the way he executed and the kind of role he seems to be able to give us. We'd like to test him in that situation, the physicality, the penalty kill, and so on, and the depth scoring that he can also bring."


Lines at practice

68 Victor Olofsson - 9 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 22 Johan Larsson - 21 Kyle Okposo
53 Jeff Skinner - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 43 Conor Sheary
13 Jimmy Vesey - 37 Casey Mittelstadt - 27 Curtis Lazar 

Defense: 4 Zach Bogosian, 6 Marco Scandella, 10 Henri Jokiharju, 19 Jake McCabe, 26 Rasmus Dahlin, 55 Rasmus Ristolainen, 58 John Gilmour, 62 Brandon Montour

40 Carter Hutton
35 Linus Ullmark

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