Michael Houser enters NHL's COVID-19 protocols

The team is hoping Craig Anderson and/or Dustin Tokarski will be ready to come back and play
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Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – The news from the Buffalo Sabres on Friday was absolutely unbelievable.

With Aaron Dell suspended by the NHL and four other goalies injured, the Sabres found out that Michael Houser has gone into the NHL's COVID-19 protocols.

You might be thinking that leaves the Sabres with no goalies under contract that can play, but wait - both Craig Anderson and Dustin Tokarski practiced fully again on Friday.

Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams told reporters that if Anderson gets through Friday without a setback, indications are he’d be ready to play. That was before the news on Houser had gotten to him, because at that point, Houser was on the ice at practice.

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Tokarski went very hard on Friday and spent over 30 minutes taking shots after practice ended.

“I’ve been taking it day-by-day and progressing and working hard,” he said following Friday's session.

Sabres head coach Don Granato said when Anderson and Tokarski tell him that they’re ready, they’ll be cleared by the doctors and be in net. Tokarski, who has been suffering from the aftermath of COVID-19, says he agrees with that.

“It’s not a normal thing, to be honest," Tokarski said. "I’d have to be up here quite a while talking about things we don’t even know about, but it’s getting there and getting close. I’m looking forward to progressing and getting back to it soon.”

I asked if Tokarski even thinks it’s possible he could be ready to play on the team's upcoming three-game trip.

“I think it’s possible, but I don’t know," he said. "I wish I could give you more, but that’s the honest truth of it, because some days you feel good and some days you don’t.”

I can’t even imagine how frustrating this is for Tokarski, because it’s not like there’s a cure or a rehab he can do. He, of course, feels the frustration.

“There’s been some times where I’d think I was close and there was some setbacks, so we’d try something new, and then something else pops up," Tokarski explained. "So there’s been a lot of question marks in the last eight weeks now, but the trainers have been good in helping me.”

“Both Tokarski and Anderson are in the same situation that the medical team will clear them to go when they feel that they’re comfortable," Granato said. "The hope is they both feel comfortable, more comfortable after going through the last two days of pretty good practice intensity.”

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Zemgus Girgensons has re-aggravated the injury that kept him out of five games and won’t play again until after the All-Star Break. He did play on Tuesday night in Ottawa against the Senators.

“With Zemgus, we just made a decision to shut him down until after the break to give him more days to heal," Granato said of the reasoning. "We feel confident that should resolve it.

“It’s an aggravated area where he had his previous injury, so there’s concern just about him to make sure that we’re in the clear here. We just think playing games will produce more wear and tear, so he looked great yesterday skating, but it was bothering him.”

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Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar announced on Friday his star, Nate MacKinnon, will be out at least three games with a facial fracture and a concussion. That means he won’t play on Sunday against the Sabres.

Friday’s Lines:

Forwards:
Skinner – Thompson – Tuch
Krebs – Mittelstadt – Bjork
Asplund – Cozens – Olofsson
Jankowski – Eakin – Okposo

Defense:
Dahlin – Jokiharju
Hagg – Pysyk
Samuelsson – Bryson
Butcher – Fitzgerald

Photo credit Losi and Gangi