Brendan Guhle was also recalled in January. ©2018, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres want Brendan Guhle to utilize speed during recall

BUFFALO – For a chunk of the season, Sabres defensemen Brendan Guhle and Casey Nelson formed a strong AHL tandem, showcasing their speed and slick puck-moving skills together.

Then the Sabres recalled Guhle, 20, in early January for two games. A week later, the Sabres summoned Nelson, 25, and he quickly earned a regular spot.

So the two haven’t played together for about two months. Tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Guhle, who was brought up Sunday, and Nelson will skate again as a pair.

Nelson said he expects they will “pick up where we left off” with the Rochester Americans.

“Absolutely,” Nelson said this morning inside KeyBank Center. “It might take a few shifts to get back into the swing of things but, yeah, I don’t think that stuff goes away. It probably takes a long time for the chemistry we had in Roch to go away.”

The Sabres recalled Guhle, their top defense prospect, because “he just earned his right to get back up here,” Housley said. His speed will help against the Leafs, one of the NHL’s quickest teams.

They also host the Calgary Flames, another fast team, Wednesday.

“He’s going to be a big part of our team moving forward, so we want to get him some games at the NHL level,” Housley said. “But I really like the speed he brought last time he was up here, whether it was leading a rush or joining the rush, he has the ability in his first two or three strides to separate himself from people.”

Housley, of course, knows how well Guhle and Nelson played together in Rochester.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Housley said. “I didn’t get to see a lot of games in Rochester, but just hearing about what they brought to that team down there, breaking down forechecks. They had some good chemistry, so that’s why they’re put back together tonight.”

Guhle, who has played five NHL games, said he wasn’t expecting to be recalled.

“But it was obviously a happy surprise,” he said. “I came to the rink (Sunday) and they told me I was going up.”

With so many raucous Leafs fans, tonight’s environment will be new for Guhle.

“It’s great, all these little experiences you can get from moving forward are just going to help him in his development,” Housley said.

Check back later for more on Guhle and center Kyle Criscuolo, who was also recalled Sunday for the Sabres’ first meeting with the Leafs.

Housley used these other lines and pairs from left to right this morning:

– Zemgus Girgensons, Ryan O’Reilly and Sam Reinhart

– Scott Wilson, Johan Larsson and Jason Pominville

– Benoit Pouliot, Criscuolo and Nick Baptiste

– Jordan Nolan, Jacob Josefson and Kyle Okposo

– Marco Scandella and Rasmus Ristolainen

– Nathan Beaulieu and Victor Antipin

Winger Seth Griffith and defensemen Justin Falk and Josh Gorges will be scratched. Chad Johnson will start in goal.

Johnson is 5-1-1 with a 1.99 goals-against average, a .932 save percentage and one shutout in seven career games against the Leafs.

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