By Mike Harrington
SUNRISE, Fla. -- You hear "three up, three down" a lot in these parts during spring training. Prior to tonight's game against the Florida Panthers, Ted Nolan gave us "out goes three, in comes three" to describe the Sabres' injury situation.
Zemgus Girgensons, Chris Stewart and Torrey Mitchell are all out with lower body injuries suffered last night in Tampa. Nicolas Deslauriers (making his NHL debut) and Luke Adam are up from Rochester on emergency recall and Zenon Konopka will return to the lineup.
No one really knows what happened to Girgensons, who played just one shift in the second period. Stewart was injured in the third period when he was drilled by goalie Anders LIndback chasing a loose puck. Mitchell stopped a shot with his foot in the second period and finished the game but couldn't go tonight.
With just 20 games left, Nolan said a couple of the injuries could be season-ending. He wouldn't say who but my money is on Stewart for one.
Said Nolan: "That was a big two points but it cost us quite a bit."
Michal Neuvirth will make his Buffalo debut in goal tonight -- and Roberto Luongo will be doing the same in his second stint for Florida after getting reacquired from Vancouver.
Cory Conacher will not play. The ex-Canisius College star had flight issues in Buffalo but still has immigration issues as well. He will need to go back across the border Saturday to finalize them and Nolan and GM Tim Murray both said they expect Conacher to play Sunday against Chicago. Pretty tough spot for a debut.
Deslauriers got the call to make his NHL debut last night after 11 p.m. He was nervous enough about today's morning skate in Rochester, where he was to make his Amerks debut. Now he gets to show his wares in the NHL.
"I never thought i was going to get traded," Deslauriers said. "I had a good meeting with (LA GM) Dean Lombardi a couple weeks ago. I was just sitting on my couch watching TSN and it popped up. I'm pretty happy about it though. A fresh start would be good for my situation playing forward this year. I'm happy."
"Deslauriers came from a real good organization and in LA they don't give you games until they make you good enough and you're ready to go," Nolan said. " He was pretty close I imagine to getting the call. He's a big body. I've watched him play with my son in Manchester. I like the way he plays. He plays with a little spirt and jam and that's exactly what this organization needs."