Most members of the Buffalo Sabres will board a plane on Monday as the team departs for a five-game, 11-day road trip. Some injured players will be staying behind and there’s a chance at least one of those injured players could meet the team on the road.
Jhonas Enroth, who sustained a lower-body injury Sunday night against the Canadiens, will not go on the trip. Forwards Zemgus Girgensons (undisclosed), Chris Stewart (lower-body injury) and defenseman Alexander Sulzer (upper-body injury) aren’t going either.
Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said that defenseman Tyler Myers, who sustained an upper-body injury Thursday night, will not be with the team right away either.
“Tyler’s going to stay back. He’ll have better treatment here and better care here but he could join us on the road trip at some point also,” Nolan said.
Sabres goaltenders have had some bad luck recently when it comes to injuries. Michal Neuvirth is day-to-day with a lower-body injury that forced him to miss the game on Sunday against Montreal. So when Enroth went down late in the second period, emergency recall Nathan Lieuwen was called up to go in and make his NHL debut.
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While Enroth will not make the 7,000-plus-mile trip that sees the Sabres heading to (in order) Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Montreal and Nashville, he may not miss as much time as the team initially thought.
“It looks a little bit better but we’ll see. He’s going to get further evaluation,” Nolan said. “He’s going to stay behind but right now it looks a little bit better today than it did yesterday.”
Neuvirth said he may be ready to play if the team needs him Tuesday night. He skated on his own Monday morning but his status would depend on how he feels Tuesday morning.
Nolan didn’t rule out the possibility of traveling with a third goaltender (possibly Matt Hackett of the American Hockey League’s Rochester Americans), but if Neuvirth is unable to play, Lieuwen would be looking at making his first start in the NHL.
UPDATE: HACKETT RECALLED ON EMERGECNY BASIS
“For me, it’s just do my thing and whatever happens, happens,” Lieuwen said. “If I end up in the net again, I’ll play my best and I’ll do what I can and do what I can to earn more.”
Lieuwen, 22, is 6-foot-5, 186 pounds and had played three nights in a row. He started for Rochester on Friday and Saturday before being called upon on Sunday. He stopped 31 shots on Friday, 38 on Saturday and all 10 he faced on Sunday.
“Usually after three-in-three you’re a little more tired and sore, but I actually feel really good,” he said. “I feel like I have energy and I feel like the adrenaline’s starting to kind of ease off a little bit. I can get comfortable and do my thing.”
The Sabres have been battling so many injuries as of late that it may actually be easier to list the players that are healthy. One player that will look to make his return to the lineup is forward Torrey Mitchell.
“The last couple weeks with all the trades and injuries, it’s been a whirlwind for sure,” Mitchell said. “But these are opportunities for everyone to step up. There’s 14 games left and everyone’s trying to make an impression for next season. We’ve got to stick together. We’re going to be playing some good teams and try to play spoiler.”
Mitchell, whom the Sabres acquired at the NHL Trade Deadline on March 5 from the Minnesota Wild, has been out with a lower-body injury since blocking a shot against the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 6. He’ll be on the road with the team and expects to be ready by the team’s first game on Tuesday against the Calgary Flames.
WATCH: TORREY MITCHELL INTERVIEW
“He adds a fresh body. He has some moxie to his game, he has some speed to his game,” Nolan said. “He has some maturity. He’s played a lot of playoff games in this League so certainly he can add some experience to a very young team.”
The Sabres and Flames are set to faceoff at 9 p.m. EST from Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.