Sabres’ Johan Larsson replaces struggling Mikhail Grigorenko; Henrik Tallinder hopeful of weekend returnBill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
BUFFALO – As expected, the Sabres scratched struggling center Mikhail Grigorenko for Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets inside the First Niagara Center.
Rookie Johan Larsson, a scratch Tuesday, pivoted Zemgus Girgensons and Brian Flynn in Grigorenko’s place.
The 19-year-old Grigorenko hasn’t showcased the competitiveness Sabres coach Ron Rolston wants to see.
“He’s got to continue consistency of his compete and his details away from the puck and then, offensively, some confidence there,” Rolston said.
Grigorenko’s ice time dipped in each of his four appearances.
Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder (upper body) skated with his teammates Thursday morning in a non-contact role. The Swede missed his third straight game.
Tallinder hopes he can play Saturday or Monday. He said an Ottawa player hit him “right into the boards” Friday.
“It didn’t feel good,” Tallinder said. “I felt it right away.”
In other injury news, wingers Joel Armia (broken hand) and Corey Tropp (broken jaw) now have “stalls” – black plastic chairs – beside defenseman Nikita Zadorov in the team’s dressing room.
Armia’s a “ways away,” Rolston said. Tropp just started skating after breaking his jaw in a Sept. 22 fight. Zadorov (finger) has been practicing regularly.
The Sabres scratched tough guy John Scott and defenseman Alexander Sulzer (both healthy). Sulzer hasn’t played yet this season. Cody McCormick replaced Scott on the left wing beside Kevin Porter and Patrick Kaleta.
As Kaleta fought Jared Boll early, McCormick scrapped with Dalton Prout, landing a couple big blows.
Kaleta later left the game and returned wearing a full shield.