A few new wrinkles to the Buffalo Sabres’ power-play units will hopefully spring the man advantage back to life.
The team used the second half of their practice Monday morning at First Niagara Center to focus on special teams. Drew Stafford moved to the point on the first power-play unit and Marcus Foligno found himself parked in front of the net on the second unit.
Buffalo’s power play is currently last in the League at 6.6 percent (5-for-76). They’re 1 for their past 19 opportunities although they have a record of 5-3-0 over that span.
“We just have to do simple things. Sometimes we try to saucer pass from side to side versus just going up the wall to the point, get some traffic in front of the net,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said.
“Simplicity is the best way to do it. Just try to get those things going, get everybody in sync. We had it going for a little while and then all of a sudden it falls back, off again.”
Buffalo had a chance late in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to tie the game on the power play but was unable to generate much offense.
POWER PLAY UNITS
Matt Moulson - Zemgus Girgensons - Tyler Ennis
Drew Stafford - Tyler Myers
Marcus Foligno - Cody Hodgson - Brian Gionta
Rasmus Ristolainen - Nikita Zadorov
UP TOP AND IN FRONT
Stafford played a little bit on the point last season and is looking forward to helping out in a different way once again. He’d missed the past three games due to a lower-body injury but scored Saturday night in his return against Florida.
“We’re trying new things. We’re trying new options and see if that can click,” he said. “I’m going to try to make some plays up top there, get a little more shots on net, whether it’s just a wrister. Getting it on net doesn’t hurt. You look at some of the top power plays in the League, it’s usually one or two passes and then a shot.”
Foligno played 12:43 against Florida and Nolan has, for the most part, liked his game over the past few contests.
“He played really strong two of the last three games and in Tampa, we didn’t play very well. But in Florida, I thought he banged the bodies well. That’s the type of player he is,” Nolan said.
“He has to play a powerful game and he certainly did that last week. He’s still a young guy. We’ve got to build up his minutes and getting him in front of that net on the power play could add.”
Toward the end of practice, defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen left the ice with an apparent injury. Nolan didn’t think it’s too serious.
“It’s one of those freaky things,” Nolan said. “His stick got caught in a rut and kind of came up in his facial area. He should be OK.”
LOOKING TO RETURN
Tyson Strachan, who missed the last game due to an injury, skated for a few minutes at the beginning of practice before leaving the ice. Mike Weber did not skate as he was being checked out by the team’s medical staff.
Nolan said it’s very possible both could play Tuesday night.
THE NEXT TEST
The Sabres will host the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday and Buffalo knows it will be a tough contest. The Kings are 6-3-1 in their past 10 games and are coming off a 2-1 loss at home to the Flyers on Saturday.
“We’re using a lot of these games lately as tests, see where we’re at,” Sabres center Cody Hodgson said. “I thought we played really well against Montreal and some of the top teams in the League so this is just another good test for us.”
WORLD JUNIOR ROSTER UPDATE
Courtesy of SabresProspects.com’s Kris Baker:
MODO winger Victor Olofsson and Brynas IF goaltender Jonas Johansson have been named to Sweden's preliminary roster for the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, which takes place Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Toronto and Montreal.
The Swedes join Nikita Zadorov (RUS), J.T. Compher, Hudson Fasching (USA), Vaclav Karabacek (CZE), Sam Reinhart and Nick Baptiste (CAN) as other Sabres prospects to earn a World Junior camp invite.
The 19-year-old Olofsson has put together a solid first half in the SHL, placing second on MODO with nine goals while leading all U20 players in the league with 17 points. He scored one goal in four games for Sweden at the United States National Junior Evaluation Camp in August.
Johansson, who was on Sweden's roster at the 2014 World Junior tourney, looked to be atop the goaltending pecking order heading into the season. He was the leading man for Sweden at the NJEC, but a bacterial infection hindered his start to the season. He has played in just seven games all year between Brynas' SHL club and J20 entry.
TUX AND PUCKS RETURNS
The Sabres have announced the return of ‘Tux and Pucks’ for the team’s home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 31.
Click here for more information on ticket packages and tuxedo rental options.
26 Matt Moulson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 63 Tyler Ennis
65 Brian Flynn – 17 Torrey Mitchell – 12 Brian Gionta
82 Marcus Foligno – 19 Cody Hodgson – 21 Drew Stafford
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 8 Cody McCormick – 80 Chris Stewart – 36 Patrick Kaleta
Defensemen: 4 Josh Gorges, 24 Tyson Strachan (left early), 41 Andrej Meszaros (non-contact jersey), 51 Nikita Zadorov, 55 Rasmus Ristolainen, 57 Tyler Myers, 61 Andre Benoit
1 Jhonas Enroth
34 Michal Neuvirth
Did Not Skate: 6 Mike Weber