As a snowstorm batters Buffalo and the surrounding areas, the Sabres are awaiting word whether they’ll play the Chicago Blackhawks tonight.
Coach Don Granato said every player made it to KeyBank Center this morning for the Sabres’ pregame skate. Instead of going home for the afternoon, players have rooms at a downtown hotel.
“So we’re sitting and waiting to see really what’s going to transpire,” Granato said on a Zoom call. “But we’re planning on playing. We don’t have a choice.”
Update: The NHL has postponed tonight’s game until 7 p.m. Thursday.
Right now, Key Bank Center falls within Buffalo’s driving ban, so good luck getting to the rink. Tonight is a nationally televised game on TNT, so postponing it might be more difficult than another contest.
Granato said it felt like a COVID game from the 2020-21 season as the Sabres prepared this morning.
“It feels like one of those days you’re waiting for the league and city officials to make a decision, and our job is to be ready for tonight’s game until otherwise notified by the league and the city,” he said. “… We’re going to go about our business like we would, best we can without being distracted. But I can tell you it is a completely different feeling than a normal game day. It does feel like one of those COVID days again.”
Granato said prior to the skate, the coaching staff planned to show 15 to 20 short video clips to players before deciding against it.
“I just didn’t think we’d have the focus and concentration right now,” he said. “The skate was the priority today, that physical activity. So we kind of put those clips aside. There’s something that’s real easy to pick up when we know definitively that we’re playing.”
Following a scheduled day off, Granato extended the morning skate about 10 minutes.
“We did skate a little bit more than normal after having yesterday off,” said Granato, whose team was forced to take Sunday off because of a snowstorm. “And you know how I feel, it’s a challenge to get the body going again after a day off.”
In other news, Granato had no update on defenseman Mattias Samuelsson, who hasn’t played since entering concussion protocol in Saturday afternoon’s 1-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Granato said Samuelsson, 23, is day to day.
“We’re hoping for different positive signs each day with him, and we should see that along the progression,” he said.