Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – The Buffalo Sabres were short players at practice on Friday, because they sent some guys down to the Rochester Americans so they can play that night. Buffalo’s next game isn’t until Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, so Brett Murray, Ethan Prow and Ryan MacInnis were sent down to get two games in.
Buffalo did get a pair of defensemen back, as Robert Hagg returned from injury and Jacob Bryson is back from the NHL's COVID-19 protocols.
Bryson said he was quarantining with Casey Mittelstadt, who also had COVID-19. He did say he suffered from symptoms.
“I had symptoms for the first few days that slowly went away, but my tests kept coming back positive I think for eight to nine days," Bryson said following Friday's practice. "It was tough to sit out that long.”
Sabres head coach Don Granato feels Bryson has a good chance to be back on Tuesday.
Sitting out also gave Bryson a chance to analyze his game. He thinks he needs to get back to what was successful for him in the beginning of the season.
“I watched video over break of past games, and I just think if I can just get back to where I was," Bryson said. "I think the first 10-to-15 games I was playing my best hockey. I think I was super confident with and without the puck, and I just need to get back to that level.”
Mittelstadt is doing well rehabbing after surgery. Granato says he had a chance to talk to his center before Friday's practice.
“He’s pretty excited," he said. "The medical team was talking about a date and Casey said, ‘Nope. I’ll be back sooner than that.’ So he’s feeling very good.”
Granato said Mittelstadt is still weeks away from a return, but he’s closer than first expected.
Hagg is also a possibility to return to the lineup Tuesday night. The defenseman was trying to play through injury, but he just couldn’t do it anymore.
“It’s been an ongoing thing through the season, and I tried to deal with it. But at one point, I didn’t feel it was fair to me or the team to keep pushing it," Hagg said following Friday's session. "I’ve been in rehab for close to three weeks, so the way I feel out there right now I haven’t felt for the whole season. That’s a good thing.”
Many players would just keep plowing through it, but Hagg was thinking of the team.
“When you get to the point where you feel like you can’t do what you want to do out there, that’s the point of, ‘What am I doing here? I can’t even move out on the ice,’" Hagg explained. "It was best to step back and do a full rehab.”
The Sabres have Saturday off, and maybe will have some of their COVID-19 protocol guys back for Sunday's practice.
Skinner – Thompson – Girgensons
Asplund – Cozens – Hinostroza
Olofsson – Eakin – Hayden
Caggiula – Jankowski
Dahlin – Jokiharju
Butcher – Pysyk
Bryson – Hagg – Miller