By Mike Harrington
The Sabres have one point and are already dead last in the NHL's overall standing. They lead the league with four regulation losses and join the New Jersey Devils, who play tonight in Calgary, as the only teams without a win.
They're coming off easily their worst performance in the five games, Thursday's dreary 4-1 sleepwalk against Columbus. But there's no time for a reset to a training camp mentality. There are five games in the next eight nights, starting with Saturday's visit to Chicago to meet the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks.
"I think playing is going to add to the experience," coach Ron Rolston said today in First Niagara Center. "It allows guys to get back at it in game situations and tomorrow will be a big challenge for us on the road. You don't have to sit around for four days and let it stew. They can get right back out there and play better."
Tyler Myers (who is minus-7 on the season) and Mike Weber (who is minus-8) are tops on the list of guys who need a quick turnaround. Weber, who was minus-4 against Columbus, may not get that chance because he was paired with rookie Nikita Zadorov in practice Friday while Myers worked with Alexander Sulzer.
Asked if Sulzer was going into the lineup, Rolston smirked and said, "We'll see. He's practiced real well. He's one of the best puck movers and passers we have. Quite possibly."
Said Myers: "We're in a tough spot to start the season. To go into the defending champs' home arena to try to get our first win is a great opportunity for us to start some real momentum. It's going to take hard work. It's not going to come easy. Especially against those guys, we're going to have to compete."
On the injury front, Rolston had these updates:
---Henrik Tallinder (upper body) is progressing but won't play Saturday. The target for his return is Monday against Minnesota.
---Cody Hodgson sat out his second straight practice for maintenance of an undisclosed ailment but played a regular shift last night and is expected to be fine for tomorrow.
---Kaleta did not practice Friday because he needed some dental work in the wake of his fight with Columbus' Jared Boll. Kaleta returned to the game wearing a full face shield.
Click below to hear Rolston's session with reporters today, including his thoughts on Myers, the looming Kaleta suspension and the challenges presented by the Stanley Cup champions.