TAMPA, Fla. -- Chris Butler's father is on the Sabres' Florida road trip, part of the team's annual version of "bring your dad to work week." As a bonus, he'll get to see Chris play against Tampa Bay.
The defenseman will be in the lineup tonight for the first time since Jan. 8 and only the second time since Dec. 18. Butler is replacing Steve Montador, who will miss his first game of the season with an upper-body injury.
"I enjoy playing, and I’m excited to play tonight," said Butler, who received a brief chat and a tap on the pads from coach Lindy Ruff during the morning skate. "He just said, "Play hard. It’s a good opportunity.’ There wasn’t a ton to it other than play hard, work hard. That’s kind of the way I’ll approach it."
Butler has played 127 NHL games, so it's nothing new to enter the lineup, but he admits it is different after sitting for such a long stretch.
"It’s different," Butler said. "It’s really tough to simulate game situations in practice, but at least you know what to expect. It’s a very skilled, very fast team tonight, and I’m looking forward to it."
Right wing Patrick Kaleta, who got the cast off his broken left hand last weekend, won't play against the Lightning but is likely to return Thursday against the Florida Panthers.