EDMONTON – Nikita Zadorov was back at practice Wednesday afternoon at Rexall Place but he will face further consequences for not reporting to practice on time Monday following the All-Star Break.
He met the team in Calgary on Tuesday but did not play against the Flames. Sabres coach Ted Nolan said Wednesday after practice that Zadorov will also not play Thursday night against the Edmonton Oilers.
The 19-year-old Russian defenseman was on vacation during the break and had a flight scheduled back to Buffalo on Sunday. However, his flight was overbooked so he had to stay overnight, resulting in him missing Monday's practice and being suspended by the team.
“I know it’s kind of my fault because I shouldn’t do that. I should make the trip a day early and then you have a safe day, an extra day,” a contrite Zadorov said. “It’s kind of my mistake because I just shouldn’t do that. Next time I’m going to be safer and I’m going to do better.”
Sabres coach Ted Nolan sat down to talk with Zadorov sometime after Wednesday’s game.
“I just mentioned to him if I was 19 and I went somewhere, they told me to come back on Sunday, I’d probably come back on Sunday, too,” Nolan said. “I just didn’t have anyone to inform me at the time and say, ‘Hey, maybe you should come back on Saturday just in case flights get canceled.’ But that’s through maturity and experience.
“That’s what Nikita went through. Should he have come back earlier? [If] planes are on time, everything’s set, nobody knows. This is a good lesson he learned early. We had a good talk about that.”
Zadorov apologized to the team and Nolan feels like this is could turn into a positive for both Zadorov, the younger players on the club and the team as a whole as they continue to work to rebuild and bond together.
“For a young man who may be immature on some things but very mature on others, he had a nice conversation with the team,” Nolan said. “He spoke to the team. He apologized to the team. It wasn’t your standard, ‘Boys, I’m sorry.’ It was heartfelt.”
Zadorov suspected that he would not dress for the game on Thursday and Nolan confirmed those suspicions after practice. Wednesday also marked the first time Zadorov had skated with the team since Jan. 18, which factored into the decision.
“I’m learning every day, but all the same, it’s my mistake because I didn’t book the flight a day earlier. I feel sorry right now,” Zadorov said. “But still, it is what it is. It happened, we’ve got to move forward. I’m here. I’m ready to go and help my team do the best."
CHEMISTRY ON THE MAN ADVANTAGE
Buffalo’s power play will enter Thursday’s game with goals in each of their past three contests. The first unit consisting of Tyler Ennis, Zemgus Girgensons, Chris Stewart, Tyler Myers and Rasmus Ristolainen has produced all three goals.
“We’ve found chemistry in two units now and we’re keeping it simple. We’re trying to move pucks quick and get pucks to the net as quick as we can. Stewie’s doing a really job in front,” Ennis said.
On Buffalo’s goal against Calgary, Girgensons won the first faceoff of the man advantage and the Sabres worked the puck over to Ennis at the right point. Ennis fired a shot on net and Stewart tipped it in 13 seconds in. The goal was pretty similar to a power-play marker that Stewart tipped in against Detroit in their last game before the break.
“Z’s been doing a really great job on draws and then we kind of spread it and make things happen quickly,” Ennis said. “The last few games, we’ve been getting quick goals on the power play.”
26 Matt Moulson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 63 Tyler Ennis
65 Brian Flynn – 17 Torrey Mitchell – 12 Brian Gionta
21 Drew Stafford – 19 Cody Hodgson – 80 Chris Stewart
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 37 Matt Ellis – 36 Patrick Kaleta
4 Josh Gorges – 57 Tyler Myers
41 Andrej Meszaros – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Mike Weber – 24 Tyson Strachan
51 Nikita Zadorov – 61 Andre Benoit
1 Jhonas Enroth
31 Matt Hackett
Nolan said that Enroth will start against the Oilers.
The Tops Gamenight pregame show will begin at 9 p.m. EST on Thursday on MSG-B and Bell TV with faceoff scheduled for 9:30 p.m. EST. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.