After 15 days, the Buffalo Sabres’ season is set to resume. Their last game took place on January 31 against the New Jersey Devils. Over the course of the 15 day period, nine players and Head Coach Ralph Kruger were placed into the NHL’s Covid-19 protocol. The Sabres will resume play February 15 against the New York Islanders. This will be the first of nine games to be played over the next 14 days. With several players having admitted to being Covid positive, all eyes will be on this long waited return.
The Islanders are coming off of a win against the Boston Bruins. In addition, the Islanders sit in third place in the East Division. This will be a crucial test back for the well rested Buffalo Sabres.
Line Up Adjustments
There is much uncertainty regarding who will be dressed come game time for the Buffalo Sabres. Sam Reinhart continues to be absent from practice since his injury occurred in January. Question marks also surround the Sabres defensively. Many key members of the defensive core took part in Covid protocol and are just beginning to return. Rasmus Dahlin returned to practice February 14 and is expected to play in the first game back. Other names include Jake McCabe and Brandon Montour who returned to practice on February 15. These two as well as Tobias Rieder were all Covid positive, and will be game time decisions for the tilt against the Isles.
In addition to Covid related line shuffling, the Sabres have other issues to address. Goaltending continues tp haunt to Sabres as their season is set to resume. In addition to Linus Ullmakr and Carter Hutton, Dustin Tokarski has been assigned to the Sabres taxi squad. Tokarski, 31, has 10 wins in 27 starts throughout his NHL career.
Fans Hopeful To Re-Enter Stadium
In off ice related news, the New York State Governor will allow the reopening of Key Bank Center to limited fans starting February 23. The Sabres organization has already jumped into action to create a plan. As part of that plan, the organization sent a questionnaire to all season ticket holders. The questionnaire contained a slue of basic questions to gauge the interest of attending games. Furthermore, the message hinted at the idea of splitting game between different groups of fans. An example of this would be having the same fans at consecutive games, followed by a different group of fans for the following to games. The different groups would then switch on and off to allow for more obtainable contact tracing information.
Fans inside of Key Bank Center would give the Sabres a great boost as they look to make noise throughout the remainder of the season. In addition to a well rested roster, fans may add another much needed element to the Sabres success.
“From Our Haus to Yours“