Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) -- The Buffalo Sabres got back to practice on Saturday morning at Bud Bakewell Ice Rink after having Friday off, and Alexander Sulzer joined the team after being recalled from the AHL earlier that morning. The veteran was with a familiar face on the blue line as he and Christian Ehrhoff worked together during paired drills.
The two German born players have been matched up with the blue and gold in the past. Ehrhoff had instant chemistry with Sulzer after he was acquired at the 2012 trading deadline. Head coach Ted Nolan has not been around the team for that long, but admitted that it is one of the reasons for the call up. He had a chance to see Sulzer in action last night against the Utica Comets. The bench boss wanted to see "what kind of influence he has with the young players down there [in Rochester] and see what kind of guy he really is." He added that from what he has been told, and what he saw Sulzer passed those two tests.
At twenty-nine-years-old Sulzer becomes the third oldest Sabre on the blue line. Just Henrik Tallinder and Ehrhoff are older, and that is one thing Nolan likes about Sulzer, adding "he's a veteran guy, and like we said, we've got a lot of young, young talent here. And we've gotta make sure that they mature at the right pace...he can have some stability back there for us." He also thinks that he can help settle the backend down, which has been "running around in our defensive zone a little too much."
The Ehrhoff and Sulzer pairing is not the only one being reunited ahead of tomorrow's game against the Detroit Red Wings. Nolan paired Mark Pysyk with Brayden McNabb during five-man unit drills, in addition to being linked during power play drills. The two former Rochester American linemates worked with Ville Leino, Steve Ott, and Drew Stafford on the second PP unit. That is one indication that Pysyk will be back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch on Thursday.
Pysyk admitted that being benched on Thursday was a wakeup call. But after watching from the press box he does not want to experience that again soon. He believes that being paired with McNabb will be good with the chemistry that already exists, adding that "a familiar face, a familiar player...we played last year together a lot in the American Hockey League. So, I am excited to get back with him." Pysyk recorded 18 points (4G, 14A) in 57 games for the Amerks last season, to go along with his plus-8 rating.
Based on the line combinations during the skate, Mike Weber and Jamie McBain appear to be the extra defensemen for Buffalo. Tallinder and Tyler Myers were paired, in addition to the groupings of Ehrhoff and Sulzer, and Pysyk and McNabb.
Offensively, the fourth line included Corey Tropp, Brian Flynn, Marcus Foligno, and John Scott. Scott worked his way into drills at various times, and looked like the extra forward at practice. Matt Moulson, Cody Hodgson, and Stafford were matched up offensively, in addition to Ott-Leino-Tyler Ennis, and Zemgus Girgensons-Mikhail Grigorenko-Luke Adam.
Nolan also said that Cody McCormick is expected to miss at least a week with an upper body injury. The forward suffered the injury against the Philadelphia Flyers, and was placed on injured reserve to make room for Sulzer.
The Sabres host the Detroit Red Wings at five o'clock on Sunday afternoon. You can hear all of the action on the flagship home of the Buffalo Sabres Radio Network - WGR Sports Radio 550, starting 4 p.m. with pregame coverage hosted by Brian Koziol.