By John Vogl
The Sabres sent Adam Pardy to the minors at the start of the year after designating him as their ninth-best defenseman. He'll be in the top four Saturday when Buffalo hosts Philadelphia.
Trades and injuries, including today's announcement that Tyler Myers is done for the year after breaking a bone in his leg, have decimated a defense that was once considered a team strong point.
Only two of the six players who started on opening day are still available to play, Christian Ehrhoff and Andrej Sekera. Myers and Alexander Sulzer are out with injuries, and the team traded Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr. Mike Weber, a season-opening scratch, remains, while T.J. Brennan, who also started the season in the press box, was dealt to Florida for a fifth-round pick.
"Obviously, we lose two big guys to trade and then you lose another good young defenseman to a trade again in T.J., but it’s just kind of the hand we’ve been dealt," Weber said today in First Niagara Center. "You can sit and worry about it, but we’ve got to play a game tomorrow. Again, it’s a must-win."
The Sabres had five defensemen at practice today, with rookie Mark Pysyk skating alongside Ehrhoff, Sekera, Weber and Pardy. Interim coach Ron Rolston said the team would discuss this afternoon what it will do regarding a sixth defenseman.
Forward John Scott, a healthy scratch Thursday, has NHL experience on the blue line, but he did no practice work at defense. Candidates to come up from Rochester include Alex Biega, Nick Crawford, Drew Schiestel and Jerome Gauthier-Leduc.
None can fill all the holes left by Myers, even though he's struggled this year. He's out after blocking a shot during a five-on-three penalty kill against Montreal. Rolston said the injury will not require surgery.
"It makes things a lot tougher on us, that’s for sure," Pardy said. "Injuries are never easy, and when a guy like Mysie goes down, he logs a lot of minutes, PP, PK. He does everything out there.
"It’s tough to lose a guy like that, but at the same time it’s going to open the door for somebody else. Somebody’s going to come in here and going to have to play. It’s opportunity. Injuries create opportunity for somebody, so somebody’s going to step up."
taggedAdam Pardy | Mike Weber | Tyler Myers