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Mittelstadt, Jokiharju to miss time with injuries

Cozens to center top line with Skinner, Hinostroza

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Casey Mittelstadt and Henri Jokiharju will miss "at least a couple of weeks" with injuries, Sabres coach Don Granato announced Friday.

Mittelstadt sustained an upper-body injury during the second period of Buffalo's opener against Montreal on Thursday and did not return. Jokiharju finished the game after sustaining his lower-body injury during the first period. 

"I'm bummed for those two guys because they came into the season prepared and in shape and they had a good training camp," Granato said. "And right in game one, this happens."

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'Time to play' | Sabres look ahead to home opener vs. Canadiens

Notes from Wednesday's practice at KeyBank Center

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Don Granato has the Buffalo Sabres embracing a single motto this season: "Earn it."

It applies to individual ice times and special teams roles. It encompasses gaining the respect of the league and the admiration of fans in Buffalo. 

"You should be damn proud to be a hockey player," Granato said. "This is a privilege and an honor and play with that passion."

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Girgensons, Okposo to serve as alternate captains this season

Notes from Tuesday's practice at KeyBank Center

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Zemgus Girgensons and Kyle Okposo will serve as co-alternate captains for the Buffalo Sabres this season, coach Don Granato announced Tuesday. 

Girgensons, 27, is entering his 10th season with the franchise and is the longest-tenured member of the Sabres. Okposo, 33, has been a member of the team's leadership group since joining the franchise in 2016.

"Two of our veteran guys that have a passion and love for not only the Sabres, but Buffalo," Granato said. "They have homes here. They enjoy their time here. They spend a lot of their offseason here and they do a great job in that locker room as well as on the ice. 

"We're excited to have those guys. I'm excited to have those guys in our locker room and on the bench and on the ice with us. So, they're great leaders. They'll fill that role very well for us."

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Cozens, Ruotsalainen settling back in at center

Young forwards primarily played the wing during their 1st NHL seasons last year

by Griffin Della Penna @GriffinDP_ /

Buffalo Sabres head coach Don Granato utilized Saturday's training camp practice sessions at LECOM Harborcenter to work on the fundamentals before Monday's preseason home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

Aggressive puck battling in front of the net and attention to detail in the defensive zone were main points of emphasis. 

Arttu Ruotsalainen and Dylan Cozens appreciated the importance of the instructional nature of practice. The tandem is embracing the challenge of the center position. They both spent time on the wing during their rookie seasons last year, but have been primarily playing center throughout training camp..

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Ullmark to miss season finale in Pittsburgh

News and notes following Friday's practice

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Linus Ullmark will miss the Buffalo Sabres' final game of the season against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, interim head coach Don Granato announced. 

Ullmark has missed the last 13 games with a lower-body injury. He returned to practice ahead of schedule on Monday and had not been ruled out for a return to game action prior to Friday. 

Ullmark concludes his injury-shortened season with a 9-6-3 record and a .917 save percentage in 20 games. His .937 save percentage at 5-on-5 ranks sixth in the NHL (minimum 500 minutes played), according to Natural Stat Trick. 

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Samuelsson attributes mature game to NHL upbringing

Notes following Friday's practice in Boston

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Mattias Samuelsson still gets a call from his father, Kjell, after games with pointers on how he played. It's a unique perspective considering Kjell's resume, which includes nearly 1,000 NHL games between the regular season and playoffs along with two decades of professional coaching. 

Sabres interim coach Don Granato believes it's contributed to the mature game exhibited by the 21-year-old defenseman. 

"He has a calm to him that's way beyond his years, but if you knew his father you would understand why," Granato said. "He's a player that benefitted from having a father that was a very good NHL player. Also has stayed in the business, he's a scout for Philadelphia currently. I know that helps. 

"He's been around the game since he was a kid. He's been in elite-level conversations since he was a kid. This is, you can see, it's pretty second nature for him because he does have a really nice calm to him in the context of a pretty competitive environment."

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Cozens sought to provide spark on otherwise off night vs. Rangers

Reinhart excelling at center; Luukkonen to start Thursday

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Dylan Cozens only fought once during his junior career with Lethbridge, in part due to a mandate from the coaching staff to keep its top player out of the penalty box. 

It has taken less than a full season for Cozens to double that total in the NHL. So far, interim head coach Don Granato has had no qualms with the rookie's decision making. 

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Luukkonen acclimating to Sabres with debut approaching

Goaltender spent his 1st game on an NHL bench Tuesday

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen spent his first game on an NHL bench Tuesday, watching while his countryman Tuukka Rask posted a 32-save shutout against the Sabres. 

Luukkonen paid close attention to the intricacies of the game - the pace, the habits of both Rask and Sabres goaltender Dustin Tokarski - knowing he might find himself in the crease sooner rather than later. His NHL debut could come as soon as Thursday, though no plan has been announced.

"As long as I'm skating with the team and in the lineup and all that, I have to be ready," Luukkonen said. 

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Borgen skates with Sabres, could play Thursday

Defenseman had surgery to repair a fractured arm in February

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

William Borgen skated with the Sabres on Tuesday and could return to the lineup against the Boston Bruins on Thursday, interim head coach Don Granato said. 

Borgen has missed the last 31 games after having surgery to repair a fracture in his right arm. The injury occurred while blocking a shot on the penalty kill against New Jersey on Feb. 22. 

The defenseman managed to finish the game, skating a career-high 19:14.

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Ullmark week-to-week with lower-body injury

Notes from Friday's practice at KeyBank Center

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Linus Ullmark is considered week-to-week after sustaining a lower-body injury on Tuesday, Sabres interim head coach Don Granato announced Friday. 

Ullmark previously missed 15 games with a lower-body injury in February and March. The Sabres have 13 games remaining this season, which concludes May 8. 

"Right now, it's week-to-week and we don't have many weeks left," Granato said. "So, that one's a little touchy."

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