BUFFALO – After participating fully in this morning’s skate, Sabres forward Cody McCormick left the ice and spoke to reporters about his recovery from a possible concussion.
It was assumed McCormick, out since Eric Fehr’s skate hit him in the head Nov. 22 in Washington, would return tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning inside the First Niagara Center.
But McCormick will miss his fourth straight game. With winger Drew Stafford out (lower body), the Sabres only have 11 healthy forwards.
They could play seven defensemen – Josh Gorges will return tonight – or recall someone from Rochester, Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. Andre Benoit is the seventh defenseman.
Update: The Sabres have recalled center Tim Schaller.
“He was going in,” Nolan said about McCormick. “We had to look at it. He’s still a little bit away.”
Meanwhile, Gorges, out since hurting his knee Nov. 11 in St. Louis, is relieved to be back following a seven-game absence.
“I’ve been in this situation before,” Gorges said. “Any time you’re out and you haven’t played in a while, it doesn’t matter how old you get or how many games you’ve played, it’s calming the nerves.”
Nolan knows he must throw Gorges, who will play with regular partner Tyler Myers, right into the fire.
Gorges is back much sooner than many expected.
“When he first got hurt, we didn’t think he was going to touch the ice for at least two weeks,” Nolan said. “Four days later he’s on the ice.”
Gorges plans to do “nothing crazy and spectacular.”
“I think my job, and it’s always the same, is to make simple plays,” he said.
Tyson Strachan, Myers’ partner recently, will move beside Mike Weber.
In other news, Sabres forward prospects J.T. Compher and Hudson Fasching have earned invites to Team USA’s world junior camp. Sabres prospects Justin Bailey, a high-scoring forward from Williamsville, and Anthony Florentino, a hard-hitting defenseman, were left off the roster.
Update: The NHL has announced Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons is the leading voter-getter two weeks into balloting for the NHL All-Star Game. Girgensons has a whopping 399,356 votes! Montreal star P.K. Subban, the No. 2 vote-getter, has 240,362.