Marcus Foligno and Christian Ehrhoff will play Tuesday night and they’ll be joined by some faces that may still be relatively new to Buffalo Sabres fans.
Chris Stewart, Torrey Mitchell and Jake McCabe will play their first game in front of the fans at First Niagara Center as the Sabres host the Detroit Red Wings at 7 p.m.
Matt Hackett will start in goal while defenseman Chad Ruhwedel, goaltender Nathan Lieuwen and forwards Ville Leino, Zenon Konopka and Drew Stafford will be among those not suiting up for Buffalo.
Leino and Konopka will be healthy scratches while Sabres coach Ted Nolan hopes Stafford will be recovered from injury in time for Buffalo’s game against the New York Rangers on Thursday.
It’s unlikely that either Ruhwedel or Lieuwen will be ready for any of Buffalo’s final four games of the season. They sustained concussions on separate plays in the third period of Buffalo’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.
The NHL Department of Player Safety announced on Monday that Zac Rinaldo has been suspended four games for his illegal check to the head of Ruhwedel.
Lieuwen was hit in the head by Flyers forward Jay Rosehill as Rosehill cut across the goal crease late in the game. Lieuwen was not feeling well after the game and Nolan announced Monday morning he had also been diagnosed with a concussion.
Both players have been instructed by doctors to stay home and get plenty of rest.
An explanation of Rinaldo’s suspension decision can be found here:
Nolan said he would’ve liked to have seen a longer sentence handed out.
“Those types of hits have to be out of our game. You’re not talking about injuries knocking a guy out for a week or two weeks. You can knock his career right off the tracks and we all see what concussions do to some of our athletes after the fact,” he said after the team's morning skate on Tuesday. “So it’s a very, very serious thing and I think we have to take it a lot more seriously than just four games.”
Mark Pysyk has been recalled from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League to take Ruhwedel’s place in the lineup.
Pysyk joins the Sabres for his second recall of the year and third stint in Buffalo this season after beginning the 2013-14 season with the team.
He has appeared in 42 games with the Sabres this season, recording six points (1+5). While playing with the Amerks in 2013-14, Pysyk has notched 12 points (1+11) through 27 games played. He recently missed about two weeks due to injury, but said he’s feeling fine now.
He’s going to look to keep things simple and continue to develop his game.
“I didn’t think I would get another look. I think the injuries, obviously, there’s been a ton up here and I got the call last night – definitely excited for the opportunity,” he said. “It’ll be fun to play here again. That’s what I’m going to do: just have fun and make the most of the exposure I’m going to get here.”
Nolan said he can tell the time in Rochester has helped Pysyk grow as a player. He also compared his development to the way the Red Wings try to keep their prospects in the minors until they’re ready for the NHL.
“I think with his development, he’s just getting more mature. We get back to the question about Detroit and how they develop. That’s how they develop,” Nolan said. “They put those kids on the farm team and let them mature, let them grow and that’s exactly what Mark is doing. And he’s going to be a great player for us down the road.”
With injuries to goaltenders Jhonas Enroth, Michal Neuvirth and Lieuwen, the Sabres called up Andrey Makarov from the Amerks as well.
Makarov will back up Hackett against Detroit and in New York when the Sabres play the Rangers on Thursday. However, Rochester plays on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so Makarov will rejoin the Amerks and general manager Tim Murray will have to find another backup goaltender.
“That’s where Tim has to work his magic,” Nolan said. “I’m not quite too sure what we’re going to do.”
After tonight’s game, Makarov will have dressed in games in the ECHL, AHL and NHL.He'll become the 45th player and eigth goaltender to dress in a game for the Sabres this season.
Stewart will play in his first game since March 6 when he sustained a lower-body injury after colliding with Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback. His injury was originally thought to be season-ending, but he’s worked hard with the training staff to get back on the ice ahead of schedule.
He’s set to play on a line with center Tyler Ennis and left wing Marcus Foligno, who is also returning from a lower-body injury that’s caused him to miss the past two games.
Nolan is looking forward to seeing what Stewart can bring to the lineup.
“I’m really excited about him. Last time he played with Marcus, that was probably Marcus’ best game he played for us since I’ve been here,” Nolan said. “He’s probably going to be a little bit rusty, but it’s good to get him back in the lineup for sure.”
The team acquired Stewart as part of the trade that sent Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues and at 6-foot-2, 231-pounds, he brings a big, physical element the Sabres don’t have in abundance.
“Stewart’s a power forward in the real sense of the word. He’s a big man,” Nolan said. “He can play any way you want to play so for us to get him in that trade deadline, it’s exactly what we need.”
Ehrhoff will be in the lineup after taking a puck to the ear late in the game on Sunday. His right ear was cut as a result and required approximately 40 stitches to repair it. Naturally, he’s been given some new nicknames by his teammates.
“It’s ‘Ear-off.’ That’s the most common one I think,” he said. “But I guess when I have a situation like that, the jokers, they always come out pretty quick, too.”
Ehrhoff said he experienced a similar situation when he was with the Vancouver Canucks. A dump-in caught him in the other ear. He said that wasn’t as serious an injury as the one he’s now recovering from.
As part of Fan Appreciation Month, there will be a guaranteed $30,000 50/50 pot during the game with a second chance lottery winner for $1,000 pulled at www.sabresraffles.org.
Fans attending the game will also be able to save 40 percent off at the Sabres Store Powered by Reebok and save on select concession stand items ($3 peanuts, $3 candy and $3 nachos). Also, 26 season-ticket holders will be randomly selected to win autographed Sabres jerseys throughout the game.
Fan Appreciation Night presented by ADPRO Sports is set for the season finale on Sunday. A Party in the Plaza presented by Tops Friendly Markets will be held from 2:30-4:30 p.m. outside First Niagara Center. The Sabres, along with their Gold Ring Partners, will present the annual team awards for MVP, Rookie of the Year and Unsung Hero as well as the 7th Man Award.
Fans attending that game will also be treated to a pregame handout, a 40 percent off discount at the Sabres Store, as well as discounted concession prices including hot dogs ($2), pizza slices ($4) and souvenir sodas ($3).
More information on Fan Appreciation Month can be found here.
82 Marcus Foligno – 63 Tyler Ennis – 80 Chris Stewart
19 Cody Hodgson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 17 Torrey Mitchell
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 22 Johan Larsson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
88 Cory Conacher – 37 Matt Ellis – 65 Brian Flynn
10 Christian Ehrhoff – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain
29 Jake McCabe – 3 Mark Pysyk
31 Matt Hackett
35 Andrey Makarov