Dan Bylsma likes to use his opening-night lineup during the last preseason game. That won't happen this year. Far from it.
As the Sabres prepared for Friday's exhibition finale, they did so without some of the biggest names on their roster. Forwards Ryan O'Reilly (back and midsection spasms) and Kyle Okposo (bruised knee), and defensemen Zach Bogosian (groin) and Dmitry Kulikov (butt bruise) all sat out Thursday.
O'Reilly left Wednesday's preseason game, his first with Buffalo since returning from the World Cup.
"Ryan O’Reilly mostly left the game for precautionary reasons but had a spasm in his back and midsection, is still obviously off the ice with that," Byslma said in KeyBank Center. "Day-to-day, precautionary really at this point in time. He will not be playing tomorrow in the game, then we’ll have the 8th off, so he should have a few good days here of rest, treatment and rehab."
Okposo left practice Monday after taking a slap shot off the knee.
"Still recovering," Bylsma said. "He’s gotten better each day to this point in time, so it’s continuing to improve."
Bogosian suffered a groin strain during an exhibition last Thursday.
"Zach Bogosian skated today, be it by himself before our practice," the coach said. "He’s returned to the ice and hopefully progress over the next five days or so."
Kulikov got hurt Friday when he was hit into the door to Toronto's bench, which opened on contact.
Here was the reason for the Kulikov bruised butt ... https://t.co/N9G9GIeNcl
— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) October 6, 2016
"He’s progressing as well," Bylsma said. "I don’t think he was on the ice this morning, but I think we’ll see him do some rehab skating starting tomorrow."
Defenseman Tyson Strachan (ankle) is expected to join the Sabres on the ice Friday. There is no time table for forwards Dan Catenacci (hamstring) and Nicholas Baptiste (back).
Buffalo closes its seven-game preseason Friday in Ottawa.
"We may have a good majority of the team looking to be in spots where they might be in the opening-night roster," Bylsma said.
Unsigned Rasmus Ristolainen continues to practice but can't play. Bylsma believes the defenseman and the team will come to terms on a contract before the season opens next Thursday against Montreal.
"We all believe we’d be better with Risto in the lineup and Rasmus on our team," Bylsma said. "I don’t give too much thought or concern to ‘if not, if what and when.’ I think it will get done, and I think we’ll have him in the lineup on the 13th."