Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – The Buffalo Sabres have desperately needed goalie Craig Anderson back in the crease, but the injury news from Friday wasn’t encouraging.
Anderson has been out since Nov. 4 with an upper-body injury, and the Sabres still list him as week-to-week.
“Because of our initial report and based on where we’re at, it is a concern," said Sabres head coach Don Granato following Friday's morning skate. "We didn’t feel he would be out this long and it has lingered.”
A big part of the reason the Sabres have won just two of their last 12 games has been goaltending. Dustin Tokarski and Aaron Dell have not been able to make key saves when the team has needed them.
Tokarski had a great start to the season in his first three games, but in the eight games since has a goals-against average of 3.89 with an .892 save percentage.
Dell’s numbers have been even uglier. He’s 0-4-0 with a 4.56 goals-against average and an .862 save percentage. Tokarski likely gets the call Friday against the Montreal Canadiens.
Casey Mittelstadt is still listed as week-to-week, and he didn’t skate with the team on Friday morning.
“He skated earlier. We felt that would be a better skate for him," Granato said of his young center. "We’re pressed with time on these pregame skates, so we wanted to get him more time on the ice.”
Drake Caggiula had been trying to play through an upper-body injury and is now listed as week-to-week. He was placed on Injured Reserve on Friday and replaced on the roster by Brett Murray, who was called up from the Rochester Americans.
The Sabres opened the season with a complete 60-minute effort against the Habs, which produced a 5-1 win on Oct. 14. Montreal has only won two of its last 10 games, but Granato knows his team has to be a lot better themselves.
“They have a lot of speed, and that’s something we will have to handle," Granato said of the visiting Canadiens this season. "I’ve challenged our group that the last few games, where there’s just an inkling of doubt creeping in, there can be no doubt. I don’t care what just happened, because when you have doubt, it looks like you don’t work hard anymore. You start hesitating, and we cannot have that. So I think for tonight, we do have tremendous respect for Montreal. Their speed and their skill is evident, but we do have to get back to playing our game consistently with confidence.
“We’ve had these lapses of confidence, and we’ve talked about segments within games where one negative has happened and then it spirals, because we can’t kick back into a confident mode. Before you know it, you’ve given up a couple of more, so that has to change. To battle Montreal, that’s our focus.”
Sam Montembeault played the first game against the Sabres, and is back in net for the Canadiens in this one. He’s 1-3-1 this season with a 3.58 goals-against average and an .897 save percentage.
Nick Suzuki is Montreal’s leading scorer with four goals and 11 assists for 15 points in 21 games.
Join Schopp and the Bulldog for pregame coverage on WGR starting at 6 p.m. EST when they’ll be joined by Granato, Zemgus Girgensons and Arttu Ruotsalainen.