By Mike Harrington
The Sabres are going nowhere of course, playing out the string of their last-place season with their final three games (Thursday at New York, Saturday at Boston and here Sunday against the Islanders). The Rochester Amerks, meanwhile, have six games left in their desperate playoff push in the AHL and the parent club is going to be giving them some help for this weekend's key three-games-in-three-days-stretch.
The Amerks have a one-point lead and a game in hand on Rockford for the final spot in the AHL's Western Conference. They have a one-point lead and two games in hand on Charlotte. They host Toronto Friday, play Saturday at Hamilton and Sunday at Lake Erie.
Here's the roster rundown on both ends of the Thruway in the wake of Thursday's practice in First Niagara Center:
1). Drew Stafford will play for the Sabres tomorrow night after missing the last four games with an undisclosed injury. Defenseman Henrik Tallinder (lower body) is a game-time decision after missing four straight and could also play. Sabres coach Ted Nolan has ruled Tyler Myers out for the final three games.
2). Forwards Johan Larsson and Nicolas Deslauriers were returned to Rochester today. Nolan said a defenseman should be heading to Rochester for the weekend as well, and that would likely be Mark Pysyk.
3). Nolan said Matt Hackett will start all three Buffalo games in goal and current Sabres backup Andrey Makarov will head to the AHL after backing up Hackett in New York. Amerks coach Chadd Cassidy told reporters in Rochester today "absolutely" when asked if Makarov could start all three weekend games.
4). Rasmus Ristolainen and Hackett both told me they expect to return to Rochester for the at least the final three games. Ristolainen told me he's just going day by day and isn't thinking past tomorrow in New York until he's told otherwise.
5). Nolan said the Sabres will have to get another backup for the final two games. He didn't know if the team would go outside the organization or flip current Amerks backup Connor Knapp to Buffalo.
Here's Nolan's audio from today with plenty of thoughts on the Amerks, Hackett, Jake McCabe and others.