Matt Moulson is back in the lineup. Zach Bogosian is not.
After spending six games as a healthy scratch, Moulson returns to the Sabres lineup for Tuesday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in KeyBank Center, playing with Kyle Criscuolo and Zemgus Girgensons.
It's been the toughest stretch of his career for the 34-year-old forward, who scored 11 of his 14 goals last season on the power play.
"It’s not fun when you're not playing, not helping contribute in games," Moulson said Tuesday after the team's morning skate in KeyBank Center. "It's a tough position. You've got a couple of choices. You can sit and sulk or do something about it."
During his two weeks as a healthy scratch, Moulson was often the last player off the ice at practice and pregame skates, getting as much extra work in as possible.
The idea is to stick to his game, to simply play his game, and not force something out of a pressing desire to contribute, and stick in the lineup. Moulson has no points in 12 games this season and is a minus-8.
"I think-play my game, try to get around the net, get on rebounds and I think obviously scoring would help," Moulson said when asked how he wanted to approach Tuesday's game. "I think just get some confidence off a couple of good shifts out there."
Sabres coach Phil Housley wants to see the good, old hockey cliché, "compete," from Moulson along with the forward using his ability to create scoring opportunities, both for himself and for others.
"I just want to see a good compete level in his game and trying to bring some speed," Housley said. "Obviously he's going to get an opportunity on the power play tonight. Just do what Matt Moulson does well. He's a sniper. He can tip pucks. He can create offense. He can make the next play. I'd like to see that from him tonight."
The power play is where Moulson found his niche last year. Sixty-four of his 176 career goals have come on the power play, a unit that could use some help as the Sabres entered Tuesday's game with the second-worst power play in the NHL.
"We've got some good players on the power play with whatever units we come up with," Moulson said. "Maybe it's little things right now. You get a couple goals and all of a sudden the seams seem to open up and things get a lot easier. I think that just comes with hard work. I think everyone's been working extremely hard on it. Keep working. It can take those ugly goals to get the pretty goals."
Meanwhile Bogosian remains scratched as he works his way back from a lower-body injury he suffered during the presesaon. The defenseman has yet to play in the regular season, missing his 25th game on Tuesday.
"I really like the progress that he's been making," Housley said of Bogosian. "We wanted to be cautious with this injury. He looks really good out there, but I just feel with one practice and a pregame skate, he just needs more time.
"I think we have some quality practice time this week and obviously after the practice Monday, which was pretty up-pace in tempo, you could see his pivoting to that one side was not where it needs to be. But I think we can take advantage of this week and our practices."
The cautious approach is fine with Bogosian, who already suffered a setback in his rehabilitation from this injury.
"I’m feeling better and better every day," Bogosian said. "It's one of those things that just takes a little bit of time. It's not one of those things you can grit your teeth and kinda grind through. You've got to be smart about it. I think we've done a good job so far. No setbacks since I've been skating with the team."
He just started skating with the team last week, but Bogosian continued to be front and center with nearly every charitable or community function of the Sabres since the start of the season. Bogosian said his foundation, the Bogo Bunch, which helps families in need, will be announcing an event in the coming weeks. Last year, the Bogo Bunch Foundation raised $54,000 for local causes through Casino for a Cause.
"Around the holidays, the first thing you think of is family," Bogosian said. "You try to spend as much time with your family as you can around the holidays and unfortunately some people aren't allowed to do that because of the situations they've been handed in life. It's kind of tough to see people go through tough times like that through the holidays. You just try to make sure you're helping their day or week go by as smooth as possible. If that's putting a smile on their face or sending them a message, that means a lot to me."