By Mike Harrington
CHICAGO -- The Sabres had an optional pregame skate today at the United Center but there was no shortage of items to glean from it as they try to get their first win of the season tonight against the Stanley Cup champions. Ryan Miller will be in goal and will likely meet Corey Crawford, as Nikolai Khabibulin played here in last night's 3-2 win over the New York Islanders.
On defense, as we gleaned from practice on Friday, Alexander Sulzer is back in the lineup and Mike Weber and his NHL-worst minus-8 rating will be in the press box. The big surprise is that Mikhail Grigorenko gets back on the ice after a one-game benching and Kevin Porter will sit.
"It's not a guarantee to be in the lineup," coach Ron Rolston said of Grigorenko. "That gave him some perspective on watching. Now he gets to get back into the lineup and try to improve."
"The game I watched from the stands I learned a couple things," Grigorenko said. "... taking better care of the puck, try to make better passes so we can possess the puck more. If our team has more possessions, it can create some offense."
The Weber change was obviously self-explanatory and Rolston said sitting Porter was simply a commitment to Grigorenko and Johan Larsson and not any statement on Porter's play to date, although he's been pointless with a minus-3 rating thus far.
Sulzer, who was put on waivers at the end of training camp and spent a game in Rochester, was thrilled to get another chance with the Sabres.
"It's pretty much like Groundhog Day for me," Sulzer said. "I've been through it for the last five years. It's not that I'm not putting pressure on myself but I know how to handle it. It's part of the situation I'm in. I'm in the NHL. There's no reason to complain."
John Scott will be in for the suspended Patrick Kaleta, who has an NHL hearing Tuesday and will be out tonight and Monday against Minnesota -- and probably more games after that for his head shot to Columbus' Jack Johnson on Thursday.
"He's been through this before. He's got to be extra careful just because of his past history," Rolston said. "We'll see what happens here come Tuesday and go from there. He's going to have to deal with it.
"I wasn't even sure where the play was. We did have to go back and look at it. He plays a physical game. ... The league is putting a big emphasis on anything that has contact with the head. Once you saw it, you knew they were going to look at it right away and make a decision on it."
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