The Buffalo Sabres were missing nine regulars from their lineup on Saturday, and still managed to handily defeat an uninterested Washington Capitals squad by a 5-1 count. Three of the walking wounded – Drew Stafford
, Patrick Kaleta
and Robyn Regehr
– are expected back in the Sabres lineup tonight when they host the New York Islanders at First Niagara Center.
For the second day in a row, Stafford skated on a line with Luke Adam
and Ville Leino
, while Kaleta played the right side with Paul Gaustad
and Matt Ellis
. Regehr and rookie Brayden McNabb
will be together on the blueline to form one of the most imposing defensive pairings in recent Sabres history. In his first NHL game on Saturday, McNabb had a game-high six hits.
Regehr was experiencing some headaches following an innocent play during Friday’s game in Columbus, but has since been cleared by the doctors to return to game action.
He describes what happened on the play.
“The puck just kinda bounced off the boards in the neutral zone. I went to play it, and I’m not even sure who it was, but when they came in they finished their check from the side and I hit my head from an angle. I just didn’t feel great after that; kinda got my bell rung a little bit.
“It felt good the next day, but just as a precaution the training staff thought it would be better to take a little time. With those injuries you never know sometimes, they don’t pronounce themselves right away and they come back to haunt you. They were careful, and I feel good now, ready to roll.”
In addition to the two other lines: Jochen Hecht
will center Thomas Vanek
and Jason Pominville
; and rookie Zack Kassian
will ride shotgun with Nathan Gerbe
on a line with center Derek Roy
Ruff said that Cody McCormick
(upper body) has taken the next step in his recovery process, and has begun the on-ice portion of his conditioning … Mike Weber
(upper body) has been skating in a non-contact role, but Ruff says he is still “a ways away.”
The Islanders come into tonight's game having scored just 41 goals for in 21 games, averaging a league-low 1.95 goals/game. They have also been shutout a league-high six times, and have scored just 14 goals in eight road games. As a comparison: Boston is the only team to play fewer road games (7) than the Islanders, but they have scored 23 goals.