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Injuries shuffle Sabres on the blue line

The Buffalo Sabres defense is in a temporary makeshift mode.

With upper-body injuries to Jake McCabe, Casey Nelson and Marco Scandella, the Sabres aren’t necessarily scrambling to plug holes, but they’re cognizant of what needs to be done with fewer experienced blueliners.

“Guys are getting opportunity,” Housley said. “Rasmus Dahlin is getting more minutes, Risto (Rasmus Ristolainen) has done a terrific job in his game and right now, Lawrence Pilut is getting more of an opportunity, Beaulieu is playing more, so it’s a great opportunity for these guys to play some more meaningful minutes.

“We’re going to have to rely on them, with the situation on our back end.”

The Buffalo Sabres skated five defensemen and with Remi Elie as fill-in Thursday morning at HarborCenter.

McCabe, Nelson and Scandella are listed as day-to-day on the Sabres’ injury report, posted Thursday. Nelson was injured Tuesday against Toronto, while Scandella was placed on injured reserve Nov. 30.

McCabe was downgraded from day-to-day to week-to-week; McCabe sustained an unspecified injury Nov. 29 in a 5-4 loss at Tampa and has missed the last three games.

Matt Hunwick (neck) skated Thursday and has been upgraded to day-to-day.

Of Scandella, Housley said that he and his staff will re-evaluate his availability.

“It’s day-to-day,” Housley said. “We’ll know tomorrow.”

“We know we’ve had a few injuries, but we just keep going,” Dahlin said. “We have so much confidence in this group. It doesn’t place anything on us. We just keep going.”

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Housley said center Jack Eichel, goalie Carter Hutton and defenseman Zach Bogosian were all given maintenance days Thursday.

“If it’s a situation where practice isn’t going to help a situation, we like to give our guys an extra day,” Housley said. “Obviously, we’ve got four days off until we play Philly (Saturday) and we took a day off yesterday. Re-evaluate players today and we felt we’ll take advantage of the rest.”

Right wing Jason Pominville welcomed the day off Wednesday; the Sabres practice Friday at KeyBank Center and have their morning skate Saturday at KeyBank.

“Our schedule’s been pretty grueling,” Pominville said. “We’ve played a lot of games in a short amount of time and I think we’re making up for it now. We’ll get some rest, get some practice time and the rest is good, but you have to take advantage of the practice time.”

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Here’s a look at the Sabres’ lines and defensive pairings Thursday at HarborCenter. (It should be noted that with injuries and maintenance days, these are subject to change prior to the Sabres’ game at 1 p.m. Saturday against Philadelphia.)

Linus Ullmark was on the ice, as was Ryan Vinz, the Buffalo Beauts’ goalie and video coach who doubles as the Sabres’ emergency goalie.

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