“We’ll see about that,” coach Dan Bylsma said when asked if the Sabres’ longest-tenured player could return for Monday afternoon’s tilt against Dallas.
But strong signs point to Ennis, 27, playing his first game since Nov. 7. Ennis’ full practice today inside KeyBank Center included regular work beside top center Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo and some action on the second power-play unit.
“We’ll see how it goes today and tomorrow morning,” said Ennis, who suffered a season-ending concussion Dec. 30, 2015.
If Ennis returns against the Stars, it would only be his 36th appearance since the start of 2015-16. Of course, even after Ennis returns, he won’t be 100 percent for two or three weeks.
Still, Ennis, a three-time 20-goal scorer, offers dimensions the Sabres sorely need: offense and speed.
“I’ve just got to be a confident player,” Ennis said. “I think I’m at my best when I have the puck and I’m making plays and I’m confident in myself. I might have to do certain things, but I can make a mistake or two when I’m doing that but I’m also making more good plays and being creative and being confident.”
Check back later for more on Ennis.
With Ennis on a top line, Jack Eichel centered Marcus Foligno and Sam Reinhart, who has recently been playing center. Zemgus Girgensons, meanwhile, pivoted Evander Kane and Brian Gionta on the third line.
“There is more balance on there,” Bylsma said. “We’ve seen Tyler play a little bit with Jack and a little bit with Ryan, so we think the combination of Ryan and Kyle together and Tyler being along side them using his speed, his ability, his playmaking ability could be a nice fit. If he plays tomorrow, he will see time there.”
The fourth line consisted of wingers William Carrier, Nick Deslauriers and Matt Moulson. Bylsma said Deslauriers, a former defenseman, could see some time at center “perhaps for a couple shifts.” Eichel and O’Reilly could also move back there.
The Sabres could also recall a center, most likely Cal O’Reilly.
In other news, Robin Lehner practiced today after the flu sidelined him three games. Lehner also skated the last two days without his teammates.
In injury news, Bylsma said defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (back) has been skating on his own and “hopefully progressing.” Meanwhile, Bylsma said defenseman Josh Gorges (hip) should see a doctor in the next day or two.