By Jay Skurski
With Jordan Leopold sent to St. Louis on Saturday, the Buffalo Sabres have to replace more than 21 minutes of ice time.
In their first game without the veteran defenseman, the beneficiaries were Tyler Myers and rookie Mark Pysyk.
Myers skated a game-high 28 minutes, 13 seconds in the shootout loss, while Pysyk was on the ice for 13:52 – a game after being a healthy scratch in Florida.
"It felt good," Myers said of the extended work. "It's whatever the coaches are going to decide how to play us. I think all the 'D' has been doing a really good job of adjusting to what has been given to them."
Myers didn't learn of Leopold's trade until arriving at First Niagara Center for the game.
"It hasn't really processed yet," he said. "As soon as I found out I sent him a text wishing him all the best. He seemed excited and ready for a new start. I hope he does well.
"As soon as he came in he helped me out a lot. Me being 21 when he came in, he was a good person and player to look up to and try and learn from."
The recent trades of Leopold and fellow defenseman T.J. Brennan to Florida have eased the Sabres' logjam along the blue line. The team is carrying just six healthy defenseman, with Pysyk and Myers being joined by Christian Ehrhoff, Mike Weber, Robyn Regehr and Andrej Sekera.
Without anyone being called up, those six know they'll be in the lineup every night. Pysyk, though, isn't thinking like that.
"I could be here the rest of the year, could be going down anytime as well so I still gotta earn my time up here," he said. "Make it tough for them to send me down."
Pysyk, the Sabres' first-round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, played his seventh NHL game Sunday when the Sabres hosted the Bruins. That fact still hasn't sunk in.
"No absolutely not. Not with the lockout and shortened season," he said before the game when asked if he envisioned being a regular NHL defenseman this season. "No chance at all. It's a pleasant surprise to be up here for a bit, and like I said, now I'm just trying to make it last."
It's been a rapid rise for the 21-year-old, who as recently as late December was a healthy scratch when Rochester played a game in Buffalo.
"It was something different but I think it was good. It taught me how to refocus and [was] sort of a wakeup call," he said. "I need to be good every night and consistent."
Myers likewise has had his tribulations this year, but said it's not difficult to mentally prepare -- whether he's skating only a few shifts a period, or nearly half the game.
"You just kind of deal with it and try to take advantage of what's given to you," he said before playing the Bruins.
With the trade deadline set for Wednesday and the Sabres seemingly open for business, Myers realizes more changes could be in the works.
"I guess it's natural for any player to think about it when the deadline's approaching, but right now the main focus should be Boston," he said.
taggedAndrej Sekera | Christian Ehrhoff | Mark Pysyk | Robyn Regehr | Sabres | Trade deadline | Tyler Myers