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Monday, 12.23.2013 / 12:47 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE
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In addition to their opponents on the ice, the Buffalo Sabres are battling the flu.

Four or five members of the Buffalo Sabres are ill according to interim coach Ted Nolan, including recently acquired forward Linus Omark.

Nolan wouldn’t confirm who else might be sick. Omark, Marcus Foligno, Ville Leino, Alexander Sulzer and Henrik Tallinder were among the players absent from the team’s optional morning skate, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the ones under the weather.

The Sabres are scheduled to host the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday at 7 p.m. at First Niagara Center and it’s possible that some of the sick players could miss the game. It could take some real feats of strength for the sick players to be well enough to play.

“We’re hoping that they’re ready to go. Four or five of them called in this morning, couldn’t make it out of bed,” Nolan said. “So we’re hoping by gametime they’ll feel a little bit better.”


Nolan said he noticed the team seemed a little sluggish in their 4-1 loss to the Bruins on Saturday. By Sunday, it was apparent that the flu was spreading.

“I kind of felt something was up with the team because we weren’t as strong. We’re not the strongest team, but at least we’re battling for the pucks. But I thought we were knocked off them pretty easy,” Nolan said. “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. Yesterday was an indicator of that for sure.”

Ryan Miller is expected to start in goal for Buffalo.

Defenseman Mark Pysyk and center Johan Larsson are back up with the Sabres and Nolan confirmed that both will play Monday night.

Pysyk re-joins the Sabres after being assigned to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League on Dec. 17. He played in three games for the Amerks during his time in Rochester, recording one assist.

Larsson returns to Buffalo after being assigned to Rochester on Nov. 20. He played in 13 games for the Amerks, notching nine points (2+7). He started the season with the Sabres and had one assist in 17 games.

Larsson did not participate in the morning skate, but Pysyk did take the ice.


Both players said they tried to remain optimistic when they were told they were being sent down.

“I played a lot, so that’s the most important [thing] for me. It’s been a little up and down playing, but I feel good,” Larsson said. “You always want to be here. But sometimes it’s good to get your confidence back, go down there and play a lot and in every situation.”

Nolan looks for Larsson to bring a solid work ethic with him to the Sabres lineup.

“We talked to the coach down in Rochester and one thing we heard and one of the reasons we brought him up is he’s competing hard,” Nolan said. “We all know his skills set. Skill is something, but if you don’t work, if skill doesn’t work, it’s no good. He’s working. He’s competing a little harder so that was a good sign.”


Pysyk has averaged 19:55 of ice time in 31 NHL games this season. He’s been on the top pairing and has also found himself as a healthy scratch. He said he spent his brief time in Rochester to work on bringing more consistency to his game.

“I don’t think you can ever be surprised. Obviously I’m in a position here where I can be down or up at any moment,” he said. “I just took the opportunity. It was fun to get down there, see all the guys from last year again. Played three games down there. They challenged us to be the best guys down there and that’s how we all took it. Just went down there and did the best we could.”

Buffalo sent defenseman Chad Ruhwedel back to Rochester.

Kevin Porter was placed on injured reserve after sustaining an injury Saturday. Nolan did not provide a timetable for how long Porter may be out.

He joins forward Cody McCormick on IR. McCormick is expected to miss several weeks with an upper-body injury.


Nolan said Cody Hodgson, who is out with an upper-body injury, is still “a ways away” from returning. None of them were on the ice with the team Monday morning.

Morning Skate Participants

Forwards: Matt Moulson, Tyler Ennis, Zemgus Girgensons, Brian Flynn, Matt D'Agostini, Steve Ott, Drew Stafford, Matt Ellis.

Defensemen: Christian Ehrhoff, Tyler Myers, Mike Weber, Jamie McBain, Mark Pysyk, John Scott.

Goaltenders: Ryan Miller, Jhonas Enroth.

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