Ryan Miller is expected to be back between the pipes for the Buffalo Sabres when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday at First Niagara Center at 7 p.m.
Miller has not played in the past two games due to a minor lower-body injury. However, he’s been practicing with the team since Tuesday and will be ready to go against Columbus. He was the first goalie off the ice Thursday after the morning skate.
Rookie center Mikhail Grigorenko will be a healthy scratch. Another rookie, Johan Larsson, will suit up instead. Grigorenko’s ice time has decreased in each of the four games he’s played this season. He skated 8:07 on Tuesday against Tampa Bay.
“I think for [Grigorenko], we go back to the impact that he has on a game and right now, he needs to pick up his urgency in his game,” Sabres coach Ron Rolston said after practice. “There hasn’t been a lot of urgency to it. At times there has been, but not consistently enough.”
Larsson has been a healthy scratch for two games this season. He did not play in the season opener at Detroit or against the Lightning. Larsson played 9:09 in his last game – against Pittsburgh on Saturday – and registered one shot on goal.
“I felt more confident that game even if the ice time wasn’t that much,” he said. “I felt better, had the puck more and wanted to do something with the puck, don’t just give it way. So I felt more and more comfortable.”
Rolston said he’s been impressed with Larsson so far and that having the 21-year-old center match-up against other team’s scoring lines will be an ongoing learning experience. Being consistent will be another challenge.
“I think it’s difficult in the sense he’s going to be playing against top players and it’s part of the experience for him right now,” Rolston said. “But I like his competitive nature and what he brings. He’ll battle and he’s a smart player. He’s in good position all the time so I think he’s going to continue to make those adjustments.”
Henrik Tallinder skated with the team for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury on Friday against Ottawa. He practiced while wearing a red non-contact jersey and took reps as an extra defenseman with Alexander Sulzer.
Rolston said Tallinder could be ready for the team’s game in Chicago on Saturday. Tallinder is currently on injured reserve and Buffalo would have to activate him from that list before he would be able to play.
Rookie defenseman Nikita Zadorov was on the ice, but in a limited capacity. The Sabres have the option of returning him to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.
Corey Tropp and Joel Armia have been skating as well, but not with the team. Rolston said this is the first week Tropp has been able to exercise since breaking his jaw in a fight during Buffalo’s preseason game on Sept. 22 agains Toronto. Armia has been able to work out, but is limited in his on-ice routines. Armia broke his hand in an exhibition game on Sept. 25.
Rolston said both players are still “a ways away.”
26 Thomas Vanek – 19 Cody Hodgson – 9 Steve Ott
82 Marcus Foligno – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 22 Johan Larsson – 65 Brian Flynn
8 Cody McCormick – 12 Kevin Porter – 36 Patrick Kaleta
Scratched: 25 Mikhail Grigorenko, 32 John Scott, 52 Alexander Sulzer, 61 Nikita Zadorov
Injured: 20 Henrik Tallinder (upper body)
Did Not Participate: 23 Ville Leino (cracked rib), 78 Corey Tropp (broken jaw), 33 Joel Armia (broken hand) .
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