BUFFALO – The Sabres, down a whopping four defensemen, plan to recall two from the Rochester Americans for Monday’s road tilt in Detroit, coach Dan Bylsma said.
They practiced with only four healthy defenders this morning inside HarborCenter.
Not exactly ideal, huh?
Defensemen Taylor Fedun (foot) and Cody Franson (unspecified) were injured in Friday’s 2-1 shootout win in Anaheim. Justin Falk (bruised calf, two games) and Dmitry Kulikov (upper body, seven games) are also hurt.
“It doesn’t look like there’s a chance any of them can play tomorrow,” said Bylsma, whose Sabres close a four-game road trip against the Red Wings.
All four players are day-to-day, Bylsma said.
The Amerks are returning from a two-game road trip to Newfoundland and land in Toronto at 4 pm, Bylsma said.
The most likely recall candidates? Well, rookie Erik Burgdoerfer, who played his first two NHL games earlier this year, hasn’t played since March 3. Rookie Casey Nelson will likely be summoned. The other is unclear. The Sabres recently defenseman acquired Mat Bodie from the New York Rangers in the Dan Catenacci trade.
They only have two other defensemen in pro hockey – Brady Austin and former third-round pick Brycen Martin, who’s in the ECHL – under NHL contracts.
The Sabres endured a big rash of defense injuries earlier this season and are experiencing a second wave now. At one point Friday, they were down to three defensemen.
“We’ve had our fair share of them happening,” Bylsma said. “I think this is the first time in my playing and coaching career that I’ve been down to three.”
He added: “We got taxed pretty thin in that game. We’re stretching it thin.”
Despite an 11-game point drought, Bylsma promoted struggling winger Tyler Ennis to the No. 1 line beside center Jack Eichel and Ryan O’Reilly on Friday. Ennis accumulated his highest ice time since opening night, 17 minutes, 17 seconds.
Why is Ennis, who’s enduring a career-worst stretch, playing with the team’s best playmakers?
“I saw some work, I saw some compete, I saw some tenacity on the puck – and that’s what he needs to keep doing here with the time he gets,” Bylsma said.
Ennis has struggled since returning from a groin injury that sidelined him more than two months, scoring only three goals and six points in 29 games.
He practiced on the top line again today.