His face red and sweat pouring down, it was clear Robin Lehner had a tough workout. The goaltender was just happy the work came with all of his teammates.
For the first time since suffering a high-ankle sprain in Buffalo’s season opener, Lehner participated fully in practice. He faced plenty of shots and even took part in the session-ending shootout, showing he’s close to putting the injury behind him.
“I can pretty much do whatever, but I still have a little issue around my right post,” Lehner said Tuesday in First Niagara Center. “I’m pretty much 100 percent to practice. Game-wise, I’ve been out, I don’t even know, around three months. It’s going to take a few days to get back in the swing of things and get back in the tempo and get back reading the pucks. I’ll take it day by day.”
Bylsma said the Sabres will gauge Lehner’s progress in practice over the next five to seven days before determining when to put him in a game. The goaltender will get at least one rehab start in Rochester before rejoining the Sabres.
“I’ve been working almost 10 times a week with the gym guys, so it’s going to be a lot easier coming back with what’s been going on here,” Lehner said. “They gave me kind of six to 10 weeks right when it happened, more to the 10-week part because I’m a goalie and we need our feet and we need to bend them pretty well. I had a little setback around the eighth week. I felt like I was pretty much 100 percent, and I had a little setback.
“It’s been a mental part to this, too, but we stuck through it. All the medical staff has been really good and pushed me through it. It’s nice to be back.”
Chad Johnson and Linus Ullmark will continue to share the Sabres’ net until Lehner is ready for NHL action. Buffalo visits Washington on Wednesday.
“I’ve been very happy for them,” Lehner said of the goaltending tandem.