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Sabres Notebook: Fedun recalled for insurance

He was the last player off the ice Friday morning. And while he didn't know the plan, Taylor Fedun had a pretty good guess that he would be the odd man out when the Buffalo Sabres hosted the Vancouver Canucks a few hours later in KeyBank Center.

Fedun was recalled from the Rochester Americans on Friday and was the only healthy extra skater on the Sabres roster.

The defenseman's presence was an insurance policy, particularly with back-to-back games Friday against Vancouver and Saturday in Boston against the Bruins.

However he got to Buffalo, he's in the NHL for now. And any step toward his goal is a good step.

"There hasn't been a ton of games for us down in Rochester," Fedun said in KeyBank Center on Friday. "We've only played three, so it's a pretty small sample size down there, but so far so good. It's always been my goal to get back here. It's one step in the right direction."

Fedun was one of the final cuts from Sabres training camp. In his seventh year of professional hockey, the 29-year-old has played in 39 NHL games – 27 of them coming with the Sabres last season.

He had a strong camp, was one of the last players assigned to Rochester, and was seen as a key piece of the Sabres depth.

And Buffalo already needs to use its depth.

Defenseman Josh Gorges (lower body) is listed as day-to-day while blue liners Justin Falk (undisclosed) and Zach Bogosian (lower body) are both on injured reserve. The forwards have taken a hit as well, with Zemgus Girgensons (lower body) day-to-day, Jacob Josefson placed on the disabled list with a lower body injury, and Evan Rodrigues still on the injured reserve with a wrist injury.

"We're pretty banged up. We've got to get some bodies up here in case something happens," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. Fedun "had a strong camp, and it's unfortunate he wasn't on our team, but he's been called up."

Fedun, who is an alternate captain for the Amerks, has one assist in three games as Rochester has started the season, 2-1.

"It's a completely different team with the energy in the locker room and, I think, with the way guys are getting along," said Fedun, who had 23 points in 29 games for Rochester last year.

"For me, it's the style that we're trying to play here. It's something that should be good for my game with the style that I try to play, in terms of trying to get back to pucks and move them up and jump into spots offensively. I think that's something where it's still early in the season, but it's something I hope will be a good fit for me."

***

Time sure flies. Especially in the National Hockey League.

Kyle Okposo remembers his first game vividly. That was 599 games ago. The Sabres forward will play in his 600th NHL game Friday night as Buffalo hosts the Vancouver Canucks in KeyBank Center.

"When you hear Patty Marleau's played 1,500, it doesn't mean a whole lot," Okposo joked Friday morning, referencing the Toronto Maple Leafs center who just reached that  milestone.

"Six hundred is pretty cool. Any time you hit one of the hundreds you kind of reflect a little bit. You think of the last hundred games or so and what you've done. You know, it's been a lot of ups and downs in my career, but hopefully trending in the right direction. I feel like I'm trending in the right direction the last number of years here."

The 29-year-old forward made his NHL debut with the New York Islanders on March 18, 2008. Three nights later he picked up his first goal and assist against the New Jersey Devils.

"It goes by fast. It goes by really fast," Okposo said. "I can remember my first game like it was yesterday -- in the Colosseum against Toronto. It doesn't feel that long ago and it was over 10 years ago. It's pretty neat when you kinda look back at it like that, but it does go by fast."

Last season, his first with Buffalo, Okposo had 19 goals and 26 assists in 65 games.

***

Old friend Thomas Vanek is back in Buffalo, this time as a member of the Canucks. He's been lighting things up.

Vanek has three goals in six games, including the last two. He scored during Thursday night's 6-3 loss in Boston, a setback that dropped the Canucks to 2-3-1.

"He's definitely a guy that we'll have to keep an eye on," said Sabres forward Jason Pominville, who played with Vanek for the Minnesota Wild from 2014-16. "He could put the puck in the back of the net and can make plays and can be a difference.

"I think things will work out pretty well for him there if he can be healthy and play the way we all know he's capable of playing."

The Canucks also have former Sabres goaltender Anders Nilsson. He is 1-1 with a .918 save percentage in two appearances.

***

The pregame video that plays before the Sabres take the ice has used the song "Courage" by The Tragically Hip this season. At the end, the screen faded to black with the words "Thank You Gord." Lead singer Gord Downey died this week from brain cancer.

The team also had a moment of silence for Buffalo police officer Craig Lehner who died during a diving training session this week.

 

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