Drew Stafford will return to the lineup Monday night and Jhonas Enroth will start in goal as the Buffalo Sabres prepare to take on the Edmonton Oilers at 7 p.m. at First Niagara Center.
Linus Omark will be in the lineup against his former club as well, playing on a line with Stafford and Tyler Ennis. Buffalo acquired the 26-year-old forward from Edmonton for a conditional sixth-round pick in December.
The Sabres played another team with a talented crop of young forwards in the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday in Denver. After a 7-1 defeat, Buffalo is looking to come out with a better effort.
“Playing against Colorado the other night, [that was] one of the best forward performances that we’ve played against, I think,” Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers said after the Sabres’ morning skate. “With looking at [Edmonton’s] lineup and knowing some of the guys on the other side there, they’re young and have a lot of good team speed up front. I’m sure it’s a similar-type game that they’re going to bring and we’re going to have to be much more ready than we were the other night.”
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Stafford, who said he’s ready to go after missing four games with an upper-body injury, said that against Edmonton, it’s important to stay out of the penalty box.
“Against these guys, they probably feed off their offense and their power play if they get going,” he said. “Skilled players, they more chances you give them, the more opportunities they’re going to get and that’s something we’re going to try and control.”
Before re-aggravating an injury on Jan. 18 that had kept him out for four games earlier last month, Stafford had put up five points (3+2) in four games.
Ville Leino and Zenon Konopka will be scratched at forward.
“We have to make some changes. Things didn’t go so well last game so when that happens, change is evident,” Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said.
Leino has nine assists in 37 games this season, but has yet to find the back of the net.
“On his side, he had played in spurts. He hit a couple goal posts and he’s just missing here, just missing there,” Nolan said. “When those things just keep missing, you look at the overall picture, [it looks like] that he’s not playing very well at all. But truth is, he has played in spurts and he must didn’t click in.
“Drew, he comes back and boom, pucks go in for him. So if that happens with Ville one day, you never know what you have.”
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Chad Ruhwedel will be the team’s healthy scratch on defense. Nolan, however, said that he’s actually been impressed by Ruhwedel’s play of late.
“As I mentioned to Chad this morning. Don’t read into any of it,” Nolan said. “As I mentioned to the players, you just worry about your own play and let all the other outside factors, you don’t know why you’re not playing – but it has nothing to do with his lack of play. He’s played pretty well. So there’s other things behind it.”
Captain Steve Ott did not participate in the morning skate. Center Cody McCormick, who is on injured reserve, skated with the team and for the first time since sustaining his injury on Dec. 17, did not wear a red non-contact jersey.
17 Linus Omark – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
84 Phil Varone – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 65 Brian Flynn
32 John Scott – 37 Matt Ellis – 82 Marcus Foligno
10 Christian Ehrhoff – 52 Alexander Sulzer
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain
1 Jhonas Enroth
30 Ryan Miller