By Mike Harrington
The Sabres have a flu bug affecting several players, so we're going to have to wait until tonight's warmups to really know who is taking the ice against the Phoenix Coyotes in First Niagara Center. Interim coach Ted Nolan said 4-5 players called in this morning and said they would not be attending the morning skate. Here's what we do know:
1). Defenseman Mark Pysyk and forward Johan Larsson have been recalled from Rochester and Nolan said both will be in the lineup tonight. Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel has been returned to the Amerks while forward Kevin Porter, who was injured Saturday in Boston, has been placed on injured reserve. Nolan said Cody Hodgson remains out.
2). Look for Ryan Miller in goal tonight. Miller is 4-0 with an 0.99 GAA and .964 save percentage in four career starts against the Coyotes. He will be opposed by Coyotes workhorse Mike Smith, who will start his 31st game of the season, one off the NHL high. Smith (15-8-6, 2.87, .913) leads the NHL in shots against (968) and saves (884).
3). Who was missing this morning? Newcomer Linus Omark was the lone player Nolan confirmed was among the flu-stricken. Also not on the ice were Alexander Sulzer, Ville Leino, Henrik Tallinder and Mike Weber.
The Sabres could be a little thin for this game. They can put John Scott in the lineup but can't make any other recalls from Rochester because the Amerks left this morning for Switzerland to play in the Spengler Cup tournament that opens on Thursday.
"I kind of felt something was up with the team because we weren't as strong," Nolan said, referring to Saturday's loss in Boston. "We're not the strongest team but at least we're starting to battle for pucks but I thought we were knocked off them pretty easy. They didn't have that certain jump. We had it for certain periods of time but we didn't have it as consistently as we have the last three or four games. I kind of felt something was up."
4). The Coyotes, meanwhile, have a lineup that features South Buffalo native and former Sabre Tim Kennedy. He has one goal and five assists in 20 games but is playing big minutes on a line with Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal. Veteran Shane Doan remains out while battling Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Click below to hear Nolan's pregame session with the media:
taggedPhoenix Coyotes | Sabres game day