BUFFALO – Struggling center Cody Hodgson, who has one goal and three points in 28 games this season, will be a healthy scratch for the first time in his Sabres career tonight against the Calgary Flames.
“Maybe a game watching will get him out of that funk,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said this morning inside the First Niagara Center.
Winger Chris Stewart, a scratch last game, will return, Nolan said.
Hodgson has been a colossal disappointment in the second season of a six-year, $25.5 million contract.
He ended a 17-game point drought Saturday. He had 20 goals and a team-high 44 points in 72 games last season and 15 goals and 34 points in 48 contests in 2012-13.
“At the end of the day, it’s a results-oriented game,” Hodgson said. “You can try your hardest every shift and work, but at the end of the day, it’s what you do out there.”
The 24-year-old’s scoring at a stunning three-goal, nine-point pace.
“Sometimes you overwork, too, and you overthink,” Nolan said. “Cody’s a real good player. He’s got some really good hands. He can score some goals, but unfortunately they’re not happening right now. Sometimes it’s good to sit back and look it from a different perspective.”
Is Hodgson surprised he will be scratched?
“I wish I was playing, let’s just say that,” he said.
Hodgson’s benching could be a brief one.
“We’ll get him back in shortly,” Nolan said.
Hodgson’s work ethic doesn’t worry Nolan. He was out late on the ice today with assistant coach Bryan Trottier.
“The one thing we never complain about Cody Hodgson is his work,” Nolan said. “He works at it, and he’s trying. But sometimes the more you try, the less you do.”
Hodgson said he hasn’t been scratched since early in his career with Vancouver.
Stewart, meanwhile, will skate on the right wing beside Marcus Foligno, who will be shifted to center, and Drew Stafford, who will move from right to left wing.
Nolan said he had a “good talk” with Stewart about the power forward’s style of play.
With an extra forward, Nolan has options for his lineup.
“We’re in a very competitive sport,” he said. “We’re also in the National Hockey League, so it’s probably the most competitive league in the world. So you have to be competitive in order to get one of those jobs, and there’s only 720 of them. To have competition from within, yeah, I think it’s healthy.”
The Sabres held an optional skate this morning because the snow forced several players to stay home.