Sabres have good news about Okposo, Mittelstadt

Kyle Okposo doesn't have a concussion, while Mittelstadt is very close to returning
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Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – The Buffalo Sabres released a very long injury report on Thursday that includes good news for Kyle Okposo and Casey Mittelstadt.

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Sabres head coach Don Granato confirmed that Okposo does not have a concussion, which is great news considering his past history. Granato did say the winger will plow through this pretty quickly, as he’s dealing with "bumps and bruises" from Tuesday night's game against the Ottawa Senators that need to be worked out.

As for Mittelstadt, he joined the team for practice on Thursday for the first time in a while. Thursday will mark the 15th game Mittelstadt has missed due to injury that led to surgery, but Granato says he will be back soon.

“He is day-to-day," he said following Thursday's morning skate. "The big thing is to get him integrated into practice, where he’ll get another one tomorrow and we’ll see where he’s at. ... No timetable yet for the next game, but he’s going to be back within the next couple, is my guess based on where he’s at.”

Two players have had surgery and are out for the long-term.

Granato said defenseman Colin Miller is out for a minimum of six weeks, while goalie Malcolm Subban is done for the season.

Since Miller is on an expiring contract, which would make him an unrestricted free agent this summer, the Sabres are hoping to trade him by the March 21 deadline.

Vinnie Hinostroza is listed as week-to-week.

“The soonest I would expect him would be three weeks," Granato said. "We’ll have to gauge that injury as it moves along."

Both Jacob Bryson and Zemgus Girgensons are short-term injuries and should be back soon.

Jack Quinn is up from the Rochester Americans and will take Okposo’s spot in the lineup. Quinn has five goals in his last two games with the Amerks, and has nine points in his last four games.

Quinn has only gone four games without recording a point in Rochester. His 18 goals lead the AHL, while his 35 points are fourth in the league. The winger has played either six or seven fewer games than the three players ahead of him.

Aaron Dell gets the call in goal for the Sabres on Thursday. He’s 1-6-1 this season with a 3.75 goals-against average and an .892 save percentage. He has an excellent .933 save percentage in his last three starts.

Cody Eakin spent five seasons in Dallas to start his career. In his best season with the Stars, Eakin had 19 goals and 21 assists for 40 points under the tutelage of Lindy Ruff.

Eakin learned the league as a young player in Dallas.

“We had 12 or 13 guys that came right up from Austin (home of the AHL's Texas Stars) and we all had this really, really tight bond," Eakin said following Thursday's morning skate. "We battled, we had fun, and it was fun to grow up and learn through that.”

Eakin and the young players played with a great leader in captain Jamie Benn. The 30-year-old center says he learned a lot from him.

“He was a young guy, and right away he got the captaincy and just grew into the role model, the leader and the worker," Eakin said. "He was able to spend some time with us (the young players), as well as lead and push us in the right direction.”

In Eakin’s second season, Ruff became the team’s head coach. Eakin says there were things he liked about Ruff’s style.

“He liked hard work, he liked playing fast and that was it," he said about the former Sabres head coach. "You showed up every day, you did your job, you worked as hard as you can and he rewarded you with ice-time or days off.”

Dallas holds down sixth place in the Central Division, two points back of the Winnipeg Jets.

Since Nov. 20, this has been a real streaky team. They first won seven games in a row, then lost five-straight. That was followed by five wins in six games, and now they’ve lost three in a row and four out of five.

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Braden Holtby gets the call in goal for the Stars. He played 11:23 on Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens after missing three games due to injury. Holtby is 6-8-1 this year with a 2.53 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.

At 37-years-old, Joe Pavelski is still a point per-game scorer in the NHL. In 36 games, he has 16 goals and 22 assists for 38 points. Pavelski has seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points in his last 10 games.

Jason Robertson has 32 points in 28 games, but he’s missed the last two games and is questionable for this game.

Tyler Seguin continues to be a disappointment for the Stars with just 10 goals and five assists for 15 points in 36 games.

Join Schopp and the Bulldog for pregame coverage on WGR starting at 6 p.m. EST when they’ll be joined by Granato, Mittelstadt and Eakin.

Photo credit Losi and Gangi