BUFFALO – So, Sabres defenseman Nikita Zadorov, how did it feel to hear coach Ted Nolan say you have earned a roster spot?
“Did he say that?” Zadorov said this morning inside the First Niagara Center. “I didn’t know that.”
Assuming the game is played, the 19-year-old will make his ninth appearance tonight. His contract kicks in with a 10th.
Nolan said Monday he was “more than positive he’s earned his keep,” meaning Zadorov has a place on the team.
“That’s great,” Zadorov said. “Kind of like I play my best games and I show what I can. They gave me a lot of ice time, a lot of trust on the ice from coaches, and I think it’s great. I just keep going. If I’m going to stay here whole year, I got to play whole year like I play these games, be better, better, better.”
Zadorov has impressed since Nolan dressed him Nov. 2, playing big minutes some nights.
“I got in the lineup and I show my best game,” he said. “Now it’s like nothing behind me and just to go forward and play my best game, because I have nothing to lose.”
Right now, the game is still on. A massive snowstorm is battering the area south of Buffalo. The Sabres held an optional skate with nine players this morning.
The Sabres probably hope this one gets played. They’ve beaten the Sharks seven straight times.
“They’ve had our number,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “We’ve always had trouble with them, whether it’s home or road. There aren’t any excuses for that, whether it’s travel or anything like that. They’ve just had our number.”
Former Sabres tough guy John Scott, a healthy scratch tonight with the Sharks, said teams sometimes “get geared up” for good clubs like San Jose.
“It’s one of those things it’s unexplainable almost,” Scott said. “It’s just strange.”
Check back later for a full story on Scott, who played two seasons with the Sabres.
The winger’s disappointed he’s sitting.
“I wish I was playing tonight,” Scott said. “I could get into a fight, show them what they’re missing.”
Another update: Nolan said only one player, winger Patrick Kaleta, won’t make it to the rink tonight. Kaleta, who was going to be scratched before the storm, lives in the Southtowns.
“We have to ensure safety first,” Nolan said.
Nolan also said some medical staff can’t make it. Assistants will take over.
Nolan’s interested to see what kind of crowd shows up.
“It’s going to be really interesting to see who really plays just to play, whether it’s 20,000 people in the rink or there’s 20 people in the rink,” he said. “To me, 20 people are just as important to play in front of.”
Update: Tonight’s game will be played as scheduled, the Sabres announced this afternoon. Fans can exchange unused tickets to tonight’s game for tickets to a future game listed below:
Wed Nov. 26 7:00pm Winnipeg
Tue Dec. 2 7:30pm Tampa Bay
Tue Dec. 9 7:30pm Los Angeles
Thu Dec. 11 7:00pm Calgary
Thu Jan. 15 7:00pm Minnesota
Thu Feb. 5 7:00pm St. Louis
Tue Feb. 10 7:00pm Ottawa
Sun Feb. 22 6:00pm Nashville
Thu Feb. 26 7:00pm Vancouver
Mon March 16 7:00pm Washington
Thu March 26 7:00pm Arizona