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Scandella returns, focused on being ready for Sabres' opener

The only date Marco Scandella is concerned with is Oct. 5. He wants to be ready when the Sabres open the regular season.

As for the days between now and then? If he can get on the ice, great. If not, that's fine, too.

"I don't want to be that guy coming in and then being out right away again," Scandella said  in HarborCenter. "Once I get back in there, I just want to keep playing."

The defenseman returned to practice Friday after sitting out the previous two days. He had offseason hip surgery, and he's easing back.

"It's good to be out with the boys, but some days is not going to be as good as others," Scandella said. "I'm just coming off surgery, so I'm just getting back to playing at the NHL level, practicing hard. We're just taking our time with it so I don’t get reinjured."

Scandella has taken three maintenance days so far. There will certainly be more before Montreal comes to town for the opener. Buffalo has four preseason games left, and it's possible Scandella misses them all.

"Being ready is a mentality," he said. "I definitely feel that getting a game helps – it can't hurt you to get a game – but right now the most important thing is getting back to being me, playing at the high level that I play at and not trying to rush things."

Scandella and coach Phil Housley are both in their first season with Buffalo, so the missed days hinder the defenseman's knowledge of the system. He's been asking extra questions to make sure he gets it.

"I played the same system for about seven years, so just coming here and learning new things, it's never a bad question to ask about how he wants things done," said the former Minnesota Wild blue-liner. "I'm programmed now in a different system, and I just want to make sure I figure out and ask as many questions as I can.

"It's a little bit tough just seeing my teammates go out there and battling every day. You want to be part of that, especially in training camp. You kind of get that edge and you get ready for the season, so missing days isn't ideal. But at this point, it's better to be smart about it."

Forward Alex Nylander, meanwhile, has yet to take the ice. He suffered a lower-body injury during the Sabres' Prospects Challenge. He's been watching practices in street clothes.

"He's doing well," Housley said. "He's making strides every day. It's something that we're going to be slow with, but he is making improvements. I don't know when he will be on the ice, but I would say it's going to be in the near future."

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