Justin Falk has a fresh cut under his right eye. Other than that, Buffalo’s defensemen are healthy.
That’s a rarity.
The Sabres have had their full complement of defensemen just eight times this season. It hasn’t happened since Nov. 1, but it is possible coach Dan Bylsma will have everyone at his disposal Friday when the New York Islanders visit KeyBank Center. Eight blue-liners practiced Thursday, which will give Bylsma choices on which six to dress.
“As a team, it’s great,” defenseman Taylor Fedun said in HarborCenter. “We’ve had some key injuries back there. It’s definitely a good problem for us to have going forward here.”
Fedun (upper body) and Zach Bogosian (knee) practiced with the team for the first time since suffering their injuries. They joined Rasmus Ristolainen, Jake McCabe, Dmitry Kulikov, Josh Gorges, Cody Franson and Falk.
Bogosian and Fedun were going to talk with the medical staff to determine their return dates. If Bogosian is ready, it’s possible Falk or Fedun will return to Rochester. The other could stay as the seventh defenseman.
“We haven’t been in that situation the whole year long, so frankly it’s a new situation for us here at the 29-game mark,” Bylsma said. “Each defenseman that’s stepped up and played for us has brought a little bit different element.”
Falk has been a stay-at-home defenseman who has one assist and a plus-1 rating in 15 games. Fedun has helped the offense, recording four assists in eight games before suffering a strained muscle in his chest Dec. 3.
“To be able to get back out there and get in the mix is a great feeling,” Fedun said. “I’ll get back into things here and hopefully pick up where I left off.”
Falk had a gash on his face after a drill in which groups of Sabres competed to clear the puck or keep it in the zone.
“I’m not even quite sure whose stick it was,” Falk said. “We’re in some battle drills and we’re all competing out there, which is good. It gets us ready for the games.”