Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan is looking for a calming influence on his blue line. After attending the Rochester Americans home game Friday night with president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine, the decision to call up defenseman Alexander Sulzer was made.
He’ll be in the lineup Sunday evening when Buffalo hosts the Detroit Red Wings at 5 p.m. at First Niagara Center.
Sulzer re-joins the Sabres for his second call-up of the season. He last played on Oct. 12 in Chicago, where he logged 19:20 of ice time. With the Amerks this season, Sulzer has appeared in 10 games and has recorded two goals and five assists.
“One of the reasons we went down is we wanted to see him play,” Nolan said after practice at Bud Bakewell Arena at Riverside Park on Saturday. “He’s a veteran guy and we’ve got a lot of young talent here. We need to make sure they mature at the right pace. This guy’s a veteran guy that’s been around for a while and he can have some stability back there for us.”
GREAT SEATS STILL AVAILABLE FOR SUNDAY AGAINST DETROIT
Sulzer skated with the team Saturday morning and was paired with Christian Ehrhoff. The two have played a lot of hockey together since the Sabres acquired Suzler from Vancouver at the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline. They were a pair last season before a knee injury ended Suzler’s season 17 games in.
“We had pretty good chemistry last year when we played together and I hope we can continue that,” Sulzer said.
Sulzer, 29, is a veteran of 107 NHL games and hopes to provide some stability to the defense. He and Nolan had a good chat about that on the ice after practice.
“I’m an older guy even if I don’t want to admit it. I am now and he just wants me to be as calm as I usually play and just try to be solid,” Sulzer said. “It’s just when it gets scrambly a little bit that not everybody starts running around, that we just play in the zone like Teddy wants us to play and just don’t freak out if one mistake happens. If one happens, everybody else makes up for it and then we’re going to be fine.”
It looks like rookie Mark Pysyk will be back in the lineup as well. He skated with Brayden McNabb during practice and the duo worked together on the team’s second power-play unit. There is some familiarity between the two as they were paired together in Rochester last year.
Pysyk was a healthy scratch on Thursday in Philadelphia and said he was able to see what adjustments he needs to make in his game by watching the action from up in the press box.
“For myself, I need to be a little more patient in the defensive zone and a lot more assertive, stronger on the puck,” he said.
Cody McCormick was absent from practice after missing the third period on Thursday with what the team called an upper-body injury. Nolan said after practice Saturday that McCormick will be out at least a week.
WATCH: TED NOLAN'S PRESS CONFERENCE
With McCormick injured, the fourth line had a different look. Brian Flynn skated at center with Marcus Foligno on the left wing and Corey Tropp on the right. Nolan said he’s going to give Flynn an opportunity to play down the middle against Detroit.
“One thing you notice about him is that he’s a very intelligent player. He said he played eight games at center ice last year [with Rochester],” Nolan said. “With the fourth line position, we have to make sure we have reliable guys there to eat up some good minutes and give our top guys some rest. He seems like a very reliable young man.”
26 Matt Moulson – 19 Cody Hodgson – 21 Drew Stafford
63 Tyler Ennis – 23 Ville Leino – 9 Steve Ott
72 Luke Adam – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
82 Marcus Foligno – 65 Brian Flynn – 78 Corey Tropp
32 John Scott
10 Christian Ehrhoff – 52 Alexander Sulzer
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
44 Brayden McNabb – 3 Mark Pysyk
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain
30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth
Power Play 1
Moulson – Hodgson – Ennis
Myers – Ehrhoff
Power Play 2
Stafford – Ott – Leino
Pysyk – McNabb