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SABRES PREPARE FOR AVS ON SATURDAY

by Chris Ryndak / Buffalo Sabres

 FRIDAY VIDEO
The Buffalo Sabres are 8-1-0 in their past nine games at First Niagara Center with wins in their past four at home. They’ll look to keep that going when the Colorado Avalanche visit Saturday night.

After the game, the Sabres will travel to Boston for a game Sunday night and then head to Detroit for a contest on Tuesday.

Overall, Buffalo is 10-4-0 in their past 14 games.

“I think our efforts on the road as of late have been just as good as they are it home,” defenseman Tyler Myers said after practice Friday at HARBORCENTER. “It looks good because we have more home games and we’re winning more. We’re going to have more road games coming up and we’re going to have to bring the same effort.”

Buffalo will likely start Jhonas Enroth against the Avalanche. In his last 11 games, he’s 9-2-0 with a .935 save percentage and a 2.20 goals-against average. In shootouts this season, he’s 4-0 and has stopped 17 or 18 shooters (.944 percent).

“He’s played well almost every game he’s been in. Even games that he let in four, he didn’t let that fifth one in to beat us or the fourth one to beat us,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “When we see them tie it up, he’s shut the door for us – particularly in the shootouts. He’s been really, really good and giving us a chance to get points. So no complaints as far as his play whatsoever.”


BACK AT IT
Mike Weber skated with the team for the first time since undergoing minor knee surgery on Dec. 12. While he likely won’t be ready for this weekend’s pair of games, there’s a chance he could play Tuesday in Detroit. The initial prognosis had him out until after Christmas.

“He’s a quick healer so he’s feeling good,” Nolan said. “He even had aspirations of playing this Saturday, but we’ll slow him down a little bit. He’s more enthusiastic than ready, but it was a good sign.”

For the second-straight day, Tyson Strachan did not skate with the team. He had missed four games with a lower-body injury before playing in the previous two games. Nolan said they’ll determine his status for the game against Colorado based on how he feels on Saturday.

Josh Gorges is slated to return to the lineup after missing the past two games with a finger injury. After another full practice on Friday, Nolan said Gorges will probably be back in against Colorado.


THE BIG UNIT
Buffalo’s first power-play unit logged a majority of the Sabres’ time on the man advantage against Winnipeg on Tuesday. Of their 5:53 on the power play, Myers, Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis and Matt Moulson each logged over five minutes.

While the second unit scored their one power-play goal, that first unit was able to create a lot of movement and momentum. Myers thought it was the team’s best effort on special teams yet this season.

“I think a lot of it is quick puck movement and not dusting it off too much. Getting the puck moving around and really taking what’s given to you,” he said. “Take the simple play, whether it’s a shot from the halfwall, a shot from the point. We create the most havoc when we get the puck to the net.”


FRIDAY’S PRACTICE
26 Matt Moulson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 63 Tyler Ennis
21 Drew Stafford – 65 Brian Flynn – 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 82 Marcus Foligno – 36 Patrick Kaleta
80 Chris Stewart – 19 Cody Hodgson

4 Josh Gorges – 57 Tyler Myers
51 Nikita Zadorov – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
61 Andre Benoit – 41 Andrej Meszaros
6 Mike Weber

1 Jhonas Enroth
34 Michal Neuvirth

Did Not Skate: 8 Cody McCormick (lower-body injury), 17 Torrey Mitchell (lower-body injury), 24 Tyson Strachan (lower-body injury)

Goaltender Matt Hackett skated on his own once again after practice.

POWER PLAY
First Unit
Moulson-Girgensons-Ennis
Stafford-Myers

Second Unit
Foligno-Flynn-Gionta
Ristolainen-Zadorov


FORWARD PROGRESS
With McCormick and Mitchell each at least away from returning, the Sabres will likely have to call up a forward from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League. The Amerks host Adirondack on Friday and play Milwaukee on Saturday at The Blue Cross Arena.

In Mitchell’s absence Brian Flynn, a third-year pro at age 26, moved back to center for practice on Thursday and remained there on Friday, between Drew Stafford – on his off-wing – and captain Brian Gionta.

Nolan has seen Flynn’s role on the team really grow in the time he’s been with the team.

“It’s evolving, no question about that. Some players take a little bit of time,” Nolan said. “You don’t pigeonhole someone when they’re 22, 23 and some people take a little bit longer. He seems like he’s just starting to come into his own.

“He has tremendous insight to the game. He has good vision. He studies the game. He’s very strong positionally and now he’s even getting some power-play time so he’s really coming into his own.”

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