As the Sabres and Panthers prepared Tuesday morning for their impending matchup, two topics came up often in First Niagara Center: injuries and a trade.
Buffalo and Florida are both banged up heading into Tuesday night’s game. The Sabres are definitely without forward Zemgus Girgensons, while center Johan Larsson left the morning skate early after getting injured.
“Lars had a little bit of an issue in the morning skate. He’s a game-time decision,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “We would have to entertain the possibility of calling someone up to fill that void.”
In order to call up a player from Rochester, the Sabres would need to place a player on injured reserve because they are already at the roster limit of 23. Buffalo’s other option is to dress seven defensemen and 11 forwards.
“It’s not a great rotation for the D,” Bylsma said. “There’s only a certain amount of minutes in the game, and if you try to spread them between seven it doesn’t work very well. It’s a better fit if you have specialty players, meaning a power-play guy or a penalty-kill guy that is in that role. It works a little better then.
“If it happens tonight where we use seven D, the D will probably play some forward. It’ll be a little bit different than just playing seven D.”
The Panthers, meanwhile, will be without Aleksander Barkov. Florida’s top center was hit in the head by Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader on Monday night.
“I still don’t like it,” said Panthers coach Gerard Gallant, whose team is hoping for supplemental discipline for Abdelkader. “It’s going to be interesting to see what comes out of it. I don’t know if anything’s coming out of it. The player’s injured and not going to play tonight. It’s one of those borderline hits where if it’s against your team you’re not happy. They’ll definitely look at it and argue about it, but I don’t like it.”
Robin Lehner will start in goal for the Sabres, and he was chattering in the dressing room about a huge trade featuring his former team. The Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs pulled off a nine-player deal, with Dion Phaneuf heading to Ottawa.
“Wow,” said Lehner, who brought up the trade to nearly every teammate who walked by.