BUFFALO – On Wednesday, the same night the Sabres honored Jake McCabe as their Unsung Hero, coach Dan Bylsma scratched the defenseman because of some recent gaffes.
McCabe has morphed into a top contributor this season, skating almost 21 minutes a night, sometimes on the first pair. So getting benched, even after a poor stretch, was a bit surprising.
“I’m not going to lose sleep over it,” a curt McCabe said this morning inside HarborCenter. “It is what it is. It’s a game. We got two points.”
So, will McCabe, 23, return for Saturday’s road tilt against the Florida Panthers? The Sabres close the season this weekend with a two-game Florida trip.
“He’s coming on the trip,” coach Dan Bylsma said following the Sabres’ last practice this season.
McCabe could be out again based on today’s defense pairs.
Bylsma said McCabe understands why he was scratched.
“He knew exactly the last couple games where he’s been at and where he’s been playing at,” he said. “There’s no shying away from that.”
McCabe added: “There’s a certain expectation of how I’m going to play and what my role is on this team. That’s what I try to bring every single day. On the flip side of that, I haven’t been bringing it, so I’m not in the lineup.”
Did McCabe notice anything watching the Sabres’ 2-1 win against Montreal.
“I’ve played enough games,” he said. “There’s nothing eye-opening. It was just on of those times where I had a little bit of a confidence issue. I wasn’t performing.”
In other news, Bylsma said winger Marcus Foligno (bruised right knee) is out this weekend. Bylsma said he needs about a week or 10 days to recover.
The Sabres will end a disappointing season with winger Kyle Okposo, 28, hospitalized at Buffalo General Hospital in the Neuro Surgical ICU, according to WGR and The Buffalo News.
Everyone around the Sabres has been tight-lipped about Okposo. Bylsma offered no update today.
Still, the team is obviously concerned.
“It’s a difficult situation and … we want to do everything we can to be with him and help him through the time he’s in right now,” Bylsma said. “It’s certainly a cloud. It’s something we’re all playing with right now.”
McCabe added: “It’s been scary. Fortunately, you guys know about as much as I do. It’s one of those things he’d do anything for you and we feel the same way.”
In AHL news, the Sabres assigned top defense prospect Brendan Guhle, 19, to the Rochester Americans today. Guhle’s junior season recently ended.
Update: The Sabres have recalled goalie Linus Ullmark. Backup Anders Nilsson, who missed last game, practiced today.