After getting home from Dallas in the early hours of the morning, the Buffalo sabres regrouped Tuesday afternoon for an optional practice at First Niagara Center. Only injured players Patrick Kaleta
, Zach Bogosian
and Cody McCormick
took the ice to work with some members of the coaching staff.
Kaleta, who has been out since Feb. 15 following a procedure to remove bone chips from his knee, and Bogosian, who has missed the past six games with a lower-body injury could be ready to return when the Sabres host the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.
Sabres coach Ted Nolan said the plan is to start Matt Hackett in goal.
Jerry D’Amigo, who took a high stick to the mouth on Saturday, is undergoing further evaluation and his status going forward is unclear. He missed Monday’s game against Dallas.
In that game, the Sabres held the lead three times against the Stars, but couldn’t hang on for the win. Dallas ended up scoring the eventual game winner with 3:14 remaining in regulation to go ahead 4-3.
Buffalo has been relying on players with limited NHL experience to fill some pretty big holes on the ice. Every situation can teach a new lesson and the learning curves and growing pains are things that the team has had to deal with and grow from. That’s unlikely to change over the course of the final nine games.
“You have enough just to get where we get to and not enough to get on the other side. That’s part of the process you have to go through when you’re in a situation that we are,” Nolan said. “We’re right there. If we had a [Tyler] Seguin on our side, maybe the game is switched.
“It’s just one of those things. You can’t be disappointed with the guys’ resolve. They just keep going and going and it’s frustrating. It’s very frustrating. But it is what it is and we’ve just got to keep mentally strong and keep fighting through it.”
One player making the most of his opportunity has been Johan Larsson. The 22-year-old center has worked his way up to the top line and onto the first power-play unit. He picked up an assist in Dallas and has seven points (3+4) in his past eight games.
“I know I try to be a strong two-way player and when you play with players like that, you know you’re going to get the chances and your opportunities,” he said. “We find each other better now and we’re talking on the bench – the small details and it’s progressing better and better.”
Larsson thought his effort against Dallas was better than against Nashville on Saturday. In addition to getting a point against the Stars, he was relied on heavily in the faceoff circle, winning 13 of 25 draws.
The Sabres have been getting chances despite going 0-3-0 in their past three and being outscored 10-4 over that stretch, including a shutout loss to the Predators. Cody Hodgson hasn’t been able to capitalize, but has been able to generate a few scoring chances in each game.
“I’ve been getting a lot of chances, especially in the Nashville game,” he said. “I just wish we’d get couple bounces or a couple posts-and-ins instead of posts-and-outs. But when the chances are coming, you know you’re playing well and you just need to keep doing that.”