BUFFALO – Sabres center Johan Larsson “had a little bit of an issue in the morning skate” and is a game-time decision for tonight’s contest against the Florida Panthers, coach Dan Bylsma said.
What if Larsson, who has been recently been pivoting the third line well, can’t play? Well, the Sabres might recall a forward from the AHL, Bylsma said. They could also use seven defensemen, something Bylsma doesn’t like but has done about 30 times in his coaching career, he said.
If the Sabres dress an extra, he will also play some forward, Bylsma said.
Update: Larsson is out, so seven defensemen will play.
“It’s not a great rotation for the D,” Bylsma said about playing seven defensemen. “There’s only a certain amount of minutes in the game, and if you try to spread them between seven, it doesn’t work very well.”
Based on portions of the morning skate, defenseman Cody Franson, who has three points in the last 18 games, could be the odd man out if the Sabres only use six.
In other lineup news, winger Marcus Foligno (lower body) will return after a one-game absence. Winger Zemgus Girgensons (lower body) won’t play tonight.
Bylsma is afraid Girgensons’ injury could linger.
“It’s a matter of having strength in the injury,” he said. “Just don’t want to chance it with where he’s at.”
Goalie Robin Lehner will make his second straight start for the Sabres, who have lost two straight games but earned points in both. Remember, at 9-15-3, the Sabres have the NHL’s worst home record at the First Niagara Center.
The upstart Panthers will be without center Aleksander Barkov, who suffered an upper-body injury Monday in Detroit.