Justin Bailey expects 20 family members and upwards of 100 friends in the stands of First Niagara Center Friday night when he dresses for his second NHL game as the Buffalo Sabres host Montreal.
Bailey, a native of Williamsville, made quite an impression in his NHL debut in Philadelphia on Thursday, collecting seven shots including a cluster of good scoring chances in the first period.
"I would love to see him duplicate exactly how he played last night," Sabre coach Dan Bylsma. "What you saw last night is how he has been playing. Speed up the wing, forcing teams with that speed and size and I think the biggest thing in his game is his ability to play down low -- be a big body, protect the puck and get to the net, get to the blue paint and that’s exactly what he showed last night."
For Bailey remembers the first time he played in First Niagara Center.
"I was eight or nine and and it was pretty cool getting on the ice," Bailey said. "The coolest thing was how loud the board were when you’d bang into them so we guys trying to hit guys to make the noise off the boards."
Bailey has made noise lately, having a five point weekend in Rochester to earn the call-up. But the 2013 Sabres draft pick hasn't rushed his moment to the big leagues.
"If you look at the way my hockey career has gone I haven’t haven’t rushed anything," Bailey said. "When I was 16 instead of going to junior I took a year off and really worked on developing myself as a player and then going to junior, stayed there for three years and really worked on some of the flaws I had in my game. Then even in Rochester, I struggled a bit early, had to adjust then I got hot and that brings me here. Try not to have that beginning period wehre I’ve got to adjust too much and I dind’t feel like I had too much of an adjustment last night."
McCabe stays: Defenseman Jack McCabe will be in the lineup tonight. He received an instigator penalty in the final five minutes in Philadelphia, immediately going after Radko Gudas who leveled Daniel Catenacci with a hit to the head. NHL rules state that an instigator penalty in the final five minutes includes an automatic one-game suspension pending league review. The league reviewed and McCabe's suspension was rescinded.
"When you look around this room I think anyone would do the same thing I did in that situation," McCabe said. "We have a tight group here and we’ve got each other’s back."
No hearing for Gudas: NHL Player Safety will not have a hearing for Gudas regarding the hit on Catenacci. "It's the league's decision," McCabe said.
"I haven’t looked at the replay again," Bylsma said. "I have it in my brain pretty good but the way I see it Dan has got a guy right on him and engaged with that guy and Gudas steps up into that hit without any possibility other than to hit his head first. That’s the way I saw it in my mind’s eye last night in the game. I know the league looks at every one of them. I don’t know if they have or have not or made a ruling or decided on hit."
Catenacci update: "Dan’s doing OK," Bylsma said. "Obviously he was woozy going off the ice last night. I’m sure you saw him stumble by our bench but he’s doing OK today. He’s still dealing with the side effects of the hit but he’s doing OK today."
Lineup: Expect the Sabres to call up a forward before the game. Bylsma said Carlo Colaiacovo will be one of the six defensemen but did not say who would sit. Chad Johnson will start in goal.
Looking for urgency: The Sabres are winless in their last four games and have given up 12 goals in their last two losses. Johnson, who came in to relieve Robin Lehner in the 7-4 loss to Florida on Tuesday then watched as the Sabres went down, 5-1 in Philadelphia on Thursday, said urgency and leadership are the keys to finding a way out of the latest doldrums.
"I think just watching from the bench it’s that urgency in our game," Johnson said. "Other teams we’re playing right now, they have that urgency to start the game and seem a little more prepared and ready to start and I think it carries through the game. For us we need to make sure we match that or exceed that urgency.
"It can come in different ways," Johnson said. "You can have one guy who leads the way and sort of puts the team on his back. ... You know we’re human beings so we’re followers. That’s the thing. If you have one guy or a collective line or whoever it is, they can get a team out of it and lead the way. It just comes down to the urgency and playing our systems and doing what we know leads to success."