BUFFALO – Struggling Sabres winger Chris Stewart has three goals in 27 games this season, skated less than 10 minutes in each of his last two appearances and recently had his coach accuse him of doing “pirouettes” on the ice.
Still, a seething Stewart called getting scratched for Tuesday’s 1-0 win against Los Angeles a “big surprise.”
“I’m not happy about it,” Stewart said today inside the First Niagara Center. “I don’t agree with being a healthy scratch. But you take it on the chin like a man. I’m happy the boys got the win. That was a big two points. I put the work boots on and get ready for the next time I’m in the lineup.”
Stewart, who ducked the media Tuesday, is clearly upset Sabres coach Ted Nolan accused him of “playing a soft game.” Stewart has fought heavyweights Brandon Prust and Milan Lucic this season.
“I don’t think I’m a soft player,” he said. “You can ask Prust, you can ask Lucic about how soft I am. I’m sure they’ll have a good answer for you.”
Nolan believes some have taken his “soft” comment too literally.
“When I said ‘soft’ the other day, sometimes, like that (Geico) commercial on TV, people take it literally, ‘I want a million bucks and a whole bunch of deer show up,’” he said. “So I didn’t mean he was soft. I meant we need him playing harder as a power forward.”
Nolan likes Stewart’s anger.
“He should be angry,” Nolan said. “Anybody who gets scratched should be disappointed, want to get back in there. He’s no different. So he’ll get back in eventually.”
Stewart still hasn’t spoken to Nolan.
“If the coach wants to talk to you, he brings you in, right?” Stewart said. “I don’t think there’s much to talk about. I got to elevate my play. I’m not happy with my play, either. I think you can talk about it, but at the end of the day you got to be better.”
Nolan said he will chat with Stewart soon.
The Sabres just beat the defending Stanley Cup champions. They play Calgary on Thursday. Will Stewart have to wait to return?
“Not necessarily,” Nolan said. “That’s the toughest part, we had 20 guys that played their hearts out last night, played hard, hard.”
In other news, Sabres winger Tyler Ennis had a maintenance day today. Defenseman Andrej Meszaros (possible concussion) has been cleared to play. Meanwhile, defenseman Tyson Strachan (lower body) is a little bit away, Nolan said.
Goalie Jhonas Enroth will start against the Flames.
Check back later for a full story on Stewart.