BUFFALO – After a puck “broke a bunch of things” in Patrick Kaleta’s face Sept. 28, doctors cut through the bottom part of his eyelid to repair him, the Sabres winger said.
“They have to cut through all those muscles, so it’s almost like my muscles get tired out a bit,” Kaleta said prior to Friday’s 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers inside the First Niagara Center.
So the oft-injured agitator has been experiencing vision problems on the ice. He still hasn’t been cleared to play.
“I can’t squint that good or protect my eye against the light, so it’s sensitive to light,” Kaleta said. “So I’m trying a whole bunch of things.”
Kaleta has experimented with eye black under a full face shield, a tinted shield and “a bunch of other different things just to see what’s going to be best so I can see the best out there.”
He wore a visor with a special jaw protector Friday morning.
The tinted shield didn’t work.
“I think the trainer said it wasn’t dark enough, but I gave it a shot,” Kaleta said.
The 28-year-old also practiced with a shield tinted like a windshield.
“The top part is tinted,” he said. “It kind of deferred the light to there, rather than to my eye. I don’t know what I’m going to use or what the best solution is, so I’m just trying to see what works best.”
Eventually, Kaleta’s problem should heal.
“I’m able to do some treatment before on those muscles, where before I wasn’t, because I had to heal,” he said. “I’m still healing, but it’s at a point where I can start using my skin and stuff just like a regular muscle.”
Still, Kaleta’s clearly losing his patience. A year after getting banished to the minors early last season and tearing his ACL in November, he had earned a roster spot out of training camp. Then a slap shot hit him in the face during a preseason game in Toronto.
Kaleta, who hasn’t played an NHL game since Oct. 10, 2013, broke a couple of sticks in practice Thursday. While cordial with a reporter, he appeared frustrated before talking.
“I don’t like sitting in practice,” Kaleta said. “It’s been a long time just basically moving pucks around and doing that stuff. So I’m getting to the point where obviously I want to play, try to help contribute, at least have the possibility of contributing, moving forward. That’s about it.
“I think if you’re a competitive athlete, normal athlete, you should get frustrated, because you want to go out there and help the team. That’s just the type of person I am. I’ll be here and do whatever I can. I’m at a point now I just want to play.”
The Sabres made one lineup change Friday, inserting defenseman Andre Benoit, a healthy scratch the last two games, for Tyson Strachan.
Benoit had zero points and minus-9 rating in 12 games.
“He’s got some offensive flair to get game,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “I thought early he took too many chances offensively. I think he was trying too hard. So now he has a chance to sit back and reflect on that a little bit.
“But he’s a very gifted offensive player that can make that first pass and send guys off on breakaways, and that’s exactly what the next stage of our game is. We have to … (spring) guys in the neutral zone.”
Benoit added: “I just got to be really reliable and play better, I think.”
Meanwhile, winger Marcus Foligno skated Friday morning but missed his third straight game. Foligno said his left shoulder got jammed into the boards trying to dump a puck in Saturday in Pittsburgh. It’s not the shoulder he hurt last season.
Foligno could play tonight.
The Sabres also scratched defenseman Mike Weber.