BUFFALO – Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju will return tonight from a lower-body injury that has sidelined him the last six games, coach Don Granato said.
To make room, Granato said the Sabres will scratch defenseman Mark Pysyk against the Vegas Golden Knights.
When the Sabres had a surfeit of defensemen last month, they began rotating one in and out each game. Right now, however, Granato wants the team’s young defenders keep playing.
Granato plans to utilize Jokiharju, Jacob Bryson, Rasmus Dahlin, Casey Fitzgerald, Mattias Samuelsson. That leaves room for one veteran.
“The young guys are playing great,” Granato said this morning inside KeyBank Center. “I mean … those are the guys you would want in the lineup, but those are the guys that are like really effective. They’re in the lineup, maybe they’d be in the lineup just because they’re young and the situation we’re in. But we don’t even have to get into it that, they’re actually playing well enough to stay in the lineup, and every game they’re getting better and better.”
In other news, Granato said winger Zemgus Girgensons (lower body) and defensemen Will Butcher (lower body) and Colin Miller (upper body) will likely accompany the Sabres on their road trip to western Canada next week.
“Before that is a question mark and not tonight,” Granato said.
The Sabres, of course, play the Heritage Classic outdoor game Sunday afternoon in Hamilton, Ont., against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I’m not so certain on throwing guys back in on different ice conditions in an outdoor game,” Granato said. “But they’re still not there anyway.”
In other news, Granato said goalie Craig Anderson will start tonight, his second crack at earning his 300th NHL win.
Goalie Laurent Brossoit will oppose Anderson. Vegas coach Pete DeBoer said ex-Sabres goalie Robin Lehner has been sent home after suffering a lower-body injury.