By Mike Harrington
Ville Leino wasn't on the ice for Sabres practice today in First Niagara Center and media antennas understandably went up. A couple players said they didn't know anything (sometimes that's true) but coach Ron Rolston then confirmed suspicions: Leino is injured again and will not play in Friday's home opener against Ottawa.
And, in fact, the cracked rib Leino suffered in the first period Wednesday in Detroit is going to keep him out indefinitely.
"It happened in the first period, probably about 3-4 shifts in," Rolston said. "It was just sore and it seized up overnight and we had it checked."
Leino played 12:36 in the game, registering no shots on goal. He was even on the ice inside the final two minutes so there were no obvious signs of injury. So for those scoring at home, that means Leino has now played nine games since the end of the 2011-12 season; he was limited to eight last year due to hip and lung injuries.
The Leino injury means Johan Larsson will move into the lineup at center, likely with Tyler Ennis and Steve Ott. Ennis will go back to the wing. Larsson played one game for Minnesota last year and will make his Sabres debut in the home opener.
"He's going to get a good opportunity,' Rolston said. "I like everything about him. His attitude, the way he works, preparation. He's a good detail player. This will give him a good opportunity to play with some good players and show us what he can do. It's a good thing. He's ready."
After Wednesday's 0-for-7 clunker on the power play, the special teams got plenty of attention at today's practice.
"I thought we played slow on the power play," Rolston said. "I think at times I think we have to pass it in the net. We just played slow, didn't move it quick enough and once we got it out top we didn't get things down there."
Said Ennis: "We had golden opportunities there with 5-on-3 with clean ice. Those have to go in."
In other news, Marcus Foligno skated in a non-contact role and said he's targeting Tuesday's visit by Tampa Bay for his return. Zemgus Girgensons confirmed his parents had travel issues coming from Latvia and arrived in Detroit well after Wednesday's game ended, missing his first NHL goal. They were driving to Buffalo today so they could attend Friday's game.
Click below to hear Rolston's session with reporters, which opens with a salute to the Bills and includes plenty of talk about the power play Meltdown in Motown.
taggedRon Rolston | Ville Leino