Things haven’t necessarily gone as planned for the Buffalo Sabres to start this season, the team coming into tonight with a 14-14-2 record thus far, tying them with the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens for the bottom three positions in the Atlantic Division. There are some bright spots, such as the further breakouts of Tage Thompson and Rasmus Dahlin, or that record being partially influencex by an eight game losing streak that came with zero points, and there are reasons for the struggles, such as poor goaltending and a myriad of injury issues. Those injury issues continue to persist, but with injuries does come injury updates and the Sabres were able to provide a few of those today.
Forwards Jeff Skinner, who was suspended, and Kyle Okposo, will both rejoin the lineup tonight, reports Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News. Okposo had only missed one game, Thursday at the Colorado Avalanche, but has dealt with his share of injuries this season. Harrington adds that defensemen Owen Power and Jacob Bryson, who both missed Thursday’s game will not play this evening. Fortunately for Power, he’s only considered day-to-day, however Bryson has been shutdown for the remainder of the road trip and will be re-evaluated when the team gets home. Their road trip concludes Monday in Vegas. Lastly, per Harrington, defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin, who is currently on IR and hasn’t played since November 28th, is still not ready to return.
- The Vancouver Canucks could be down a pair of star forwards this evening, with both Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser under the weather according to Sportsnet’s Brendan Batchelor, who spoke with head coach Bruce Boudreau. Boeser also missed Wednesday’s game with an illness and while Pettersson did not, recall that he had actually been sent home from practice on Sunday after showing up sick. Even with the turmoil surrounding Boeser and the likelihood that he ends up being dealt this season, Vancouver will need both players in the lineup with the hope that they can produce and get their season back on track going forward. Boeser has 16 points in 22 games thus far, while Pettersson appears to be taking the next step with 34 points in 29 games to date.
- Carolina Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho, who has been out of the lineup since December 6th with a lower-body injury will not play tonight against the Dallas Stars or tomorrow afternoon against the Pittsburgh Penguins, says Hurricanes team reporter Walt Ruff, who spoke with head coach Rod Brind’Amour prior to tonight’s game. On a positive note, Brind’Amour added that Aho was on the ice earlier today, indicating a return could be sooner rather than later. Interestingly, Carolina has done just fine without Aho in the lineup, going 3-0-0 in the process, including back-to-back shutouts of the New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings. Obviously, the team would still prefer to get one of the NHL’s very best centers back into their lineup as soon as possible, especially considering schedule doesn’t get any easier after tomorrow, facing the New Jersey Devils and the Penguins again this week.
- Washington Capitals forward Nic Dowd will miss tonight’s game with a lower-body injury, reports The Athletics Tarik El-Bashir. It’s unclear what exactly is ailing Dowd or how serious the injury might be, however he did leave Thursday’s game a touch early, playing just 9:39 in the game, down from his season average of 13:03. Also of note, goaltender Hunter Shepard has been ruled out of tonight’s game with an upper-body injury, which would explain the team’s earlier recall of netminder Zachary Fucale.