BUFFALO – Linus Omark smiled today when a reporter asked him if he was looking forward to facing Edmonton, his old team.
“I would be lying if I said no,” the winger said inside the First Niagara Center after the Sabres prepared for the Oilers, Monday’s opponent. “Of course, it’s going to be a fun game. I know a lot of guys on the team.”
Omark, a healthy scratch the last three games, will return against the Oilers, who he played 66 games with over parts of three seasons. They dealt him to the Sabres for a conditional sixth-round pick Dec. 19.
Interim Sabres coach Ted Nolan might award Omark, who has two assists in 11 games, a nice opportunity Monday. He skated the Swede on the left wing beside center Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford today. Nolan, however, wouldn’t say if Omark would play on the top line.
“It looks like that, but I don’t know,” Omark said about playing on the No. 1 line. “We’ll see tomorrow. If that’s the thing, I’m going to try to play good.”
Omark has been a healthy scratch seven times already. What does Nolan want to see from him?
“We want to see what everybody thought he was capable of doing when he came into this league,” Nolan said. “He’s a highly skilled player. But as we know, skill can only get you so far. It’s the will and determination that’s going to push you further. So we want to see him play with a little more grit combined with that skill set.”
Playing Omark on the fourth line hasn’t worked out well, one reason Nolan has him back beside skill players.
“I think you have to put him with skill people,” Nolan said. “We did it a couple times so far, and so far it hasn’t worked out so well. But maybe this time it will.”
In other news, Stafford, out the last four games (upper body), will return Monday, he said.
The Sabres switched up some lines today, putting rookie Zemgus Girgensons at center. Phil Varone, a regular center, switched to left wing. Brian Flynn skated on the right.
“Zemgus, he’s almost like a natural center ice man,” Nolan said. “He likes to skate. With our injury count right now, it’s a great time to test him in that he’s very comfortable in that position. That’s where he grew up playing. We’ll probably put him in that position, see how he does.”