Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – None of the injured players the Buffalo Sabres have right now were back on the ice for practice on Monday. The list of injured players include forwards Victor Olofsson and Casey Mittelstadt, goalie Craig Anderson and defenseman Henri Jokiharju.
Dylan Cozens didn’t make it through practice, but head coach Don Granato said he’ll be fine to play Tuesday night in Pittsburgh against the Penguins.
Just in case, the Sabres called up forward Brett Murray from the Rochester Americans. He's played one game with the Sabres this season with no points. He's had five games with the Amerks, scoring two goals for two points.
Let’s go in-depth with the Sabres' injuries, starting with Anderson. His last game was back on Nov. 2 in a loss to the San Jose Sharks, so he’s missed five games.
“They’ve done some different things treatment wise, so the next report to me might be a little more positive," Granato said of his 40-year-old goaltender. "It doesn’t appear that it will be long-term, but it’s another delicate injury where there’s some grey [area] from guy-to-guy and situation to situation in the context of the injury.”
Granato gave a little more details in regards to the injury to Olofsson on Monday.
“He’s a shooter, and this affects his shooting," he explained. "He can do everything else, but when it comes to pulling the trigger, it’s affecting him. It’s just a little, little thing that just won’t stop nagging him.”
Granato also said Olofsson is doing conditioning skates, hoping this resolves itself over time.
"It’s the tedious nature of it," he said.
The winger last played back on Oct. 31 in Los Angeles against the Kings and has missed six games.
Jokiharju got hurt back on opening night and has missed 13 games this season. Granato says the young defenseman has skated and there shouldn't be any hiccups, but the team will not rush him back into the lineup until they feel the muscles around his injury are strong enough.
"It’s getting him enough reps to gradually get him back," Granato said.
As for Mittelstadt, he also got hurt on opening night against the Montreal Canadiens. Granato says his young center continues to make progress, but he has not progressed each day.
"He’s still progressing, so that might mean it’s less than a couple of weeks or around there if he continues to progress,” Granato said.
With Anderson out, Dustin Tokarski will likely get the call in Pittsburgh. Tokarski has played five of the last seven games and has been under siege, at times, facing an average of almost 34 shots per-game. He’s been hung out to dry in many of those games, going 1-3-1 with a 3.61 goals-against average and an .893 save percentage.
“You just try to stay super focused throughout the game," Tokarski said following Monday's practice. "I like to have intense focus and really try to stay dialed in."
Since the 2014-15 season, Tokarski had played just 9:47 in one game for the Anaheim Ducks. Before playing last season, he had not played a NHL game since Oct. 28, 2016. The journey was a tough one to get back to the NHL. He said making the Sabres roster this season out of training camp gives him more of an appreciation for what he’s living right now.
"I definitely don’t take a single day for granted," Tokarski said. "I come in, I enjoy my teammates and hang out with them and work hard on the ice.
“It’s the top league in the world, and I’m thrilled to be here and I’m thrilled to be part of a team that works hard every night. We’re competitive, and we enjoy being around each other.”
Overall, Tokarski is 2-3-2 this season with a 2.95 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage.
Sabres goalie prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was named AHL Player of the Week on Monday. The 22-year-old netminder was 2-1-0 this week, picking up his first career shutout on Saturday against the Cleveland Monsters.
In the three-game set, his goals-against average was 1.68 with a .957 save percentage.
Luukkonen struggled mightily in October, which is why he’s 4-4-0 overall with a 3.37 goals-against average and an .891 save percentage. In November, he’s settled in with a 1.77 goals-against average and a .949 save percentage.
Skinner – Thompson – Asplund
Girgensons – Eakin – Okposo
Bjork – Ruotsalainen – Hayden
Caggiula – Cozens – Hinostroza
Dahlin – Pysyk
Bryson – Miller
Butcher – Hagg