For the first time this training camp, Rasmus Ristolainen took the ice on Monday with his Buffalo Sabres teammates.
The defenseman who missed the first 10 days of training camp with an upper body injury returned to practice at HarborCenter. It’s a good bet he will be on the ice Tuesday when the Sabres host the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7 p.m. in First Niagara Center.
“His upper body injury didn’t preclude him from skating,” Bylsma said. “He hasn’t had the contact and the physical contact until two days ago and today. He should have done quite a bit of skating, he’s got some conditioning in. You want to see him play somewhere in that 18-20 minute range for this game. Plan on getting him in another two of the next three.”
Ristolainen felt comfortable physically on the ice at HarborCenter since he’s been skating on his own. The difficulty came as practice centered on special teams and he is still learning the new system.
“I expect to be better,” Ristolainen said. “I feel pretty good but like the power play stuff, I try to learn where the guys are. I want to be better. … Maybe a couple of practices. First practice and the power play right away. I think a couple more practices and I know where the guys are.”
In other Sabres injury news:
Defensmen Josh Gorges and Zach Bogosian are both out with lower body injuries which Bylsma characterized as “week to week” which could put them in danger of missing the season opener on Oct. 8.
Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel is a lower body day-to-day injury while forward Patrick Kaleta is close to returning. “He skated this morning on his own and it should be a situation where we see him return to practice hopefully,” Bylsma said of Kaleta on Tuesday. “He hopefully will be able to get back on the ice then possibly by the weekend get into games.”
Jake McCabe missed practice with an upper body injury. “We’re kinda waiting to see where he’s at with that,” Bylsma said. “It happened very late in the game in Ottawa. He was better yesterday and better today. Some good news we just don’t know quite yet on him.”
Forward Jamie McGinn missed practice with illness.
Bylsma said the top four line combinations used in Monday’s practice would likely take the ice for Tuesday’s preseason game. Expect tinkering with lines until the final preseason game on Friday when that lineup should more closely resemble the regular season.
Monday’s combinations were:
Evander Kane-Ryan O’Reilly-Tyler Ennis
Matt Moulson – Jack Eichel – Brian Gionta
Nicolas Deslauriers – David Legwand – Marcus Foligno
Evan Rodrigues – Johan Larsson – Sam Reinhart
Matt Ellis – Zemgus Girgensons/Tim Schaller – Jason Akeson
The Sabres announced that Mike Weber will donate tickets to soldiers as part of the “Tickets for Troops” program and Matt Moulson will again work with the Wounded Warrior Project to provide a pair of seats to every game.