Beaulieu, Gorges close to returning to practice

November 6, 2017

The Buffalo Sabres' banged-up blue line may be getting a couple of players back on the ice for practice later this week.

Sabres head coach Phil Housley gave an injury update on the status of multiple players this afternoon, saying that defensemen Nathan Beaulieu and Josh Gorges are close to returning to the ice for a team practice.

"Nate Beaulieu skated, and he'll probably join us in practice this week. That was encouraging," Housley said. "Josh Gorges has made some great strides. He's been skating, and he'll probably join us for practice this week."

Beaulieu has been sidelined since October 20 when he left the game against the Vancouver Canucks with a lower-body injury. Gorges has been out since October 19 with a lower-body injury of his own.

Elsewhere on the injury front, defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen was absent once again with an upper-body injury. He is day-to-day after missing out on Saturday night's game against the Dallas Stars. Defenseman Zach Bogosian is skating once again, and has skated for the past two or three days to test his lower-body injury. Housley said after practice that he's making progress, but remains day-to-day.

Up front, Justin Bailey also remains out of action, day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Evan Rodrigues also remains out day-to-day with his hand injury, but he has been on the ice skating for some time now.

One other injury note as center Jacob Josefson has yet to skate with his lower-body injury, and Housley is still considering him week-to-week.

Here is how lines looked at Monday's practice at HarborCenter:


Kane - Eichel - Pominville

Pouliot - O'Reilly - Okposo

Baptiste - Reinhart - Griffith

Girgensons - Larsson - Nolan


Scandella - Falk

McCabe - Fedun

Antipin - Tennyson

Matt Moulson was working in as an extra at forward and on defense.

As for Nick Baptiste, he got his first chance to work in on a regular line since he was called up last Wednesday. He skated on a line with Sam Reinhart and Seth Griffith, and is looking to bring his speed and tenacity that he's capable of bringing on a consistent basis.

"I try to play 200-feet, regardless of where I am," Baptiste said following practice in front of his makeshift locker stall. "Playing in Rochester, I'm going to play significantly more minutes to start off with. I might not play that 20 minutes a night when I'm called up here, so I have to be prepared to do the little things right. The most important thing for me when I get called up is to be trusted in my own end. If I can do those things, I think I'll be successful in terms of getting in the lineup and staying in the lineup."

"He's been doing really well at going to the net hard," Housley said of Baptiste. "He's been scoring goals and that's what we need more of. I just liked the pace that he brought today. I can only judge what I see with my own eyes and watching him on film, but I really like where he's scoring his goals. It's right around the paint, and that's where we need to be."

With Moulson working as the extra skater this morning, it seems like Baptiste is going to make his season debut on Tuesday against the Washington Capitals. However, Housley is not set yet on saying if he will play on Tuesday.

"It's a game-time decision right now, we're just trying to get a feel," Housley said. "He's been with our club, and we wanted to get him a good practice. It was his first solid practice he's had because we've been playing games and he came in late. It was good to see him, and I really liked that line and what they brought today."

"I'm excited to hopefully get in the lineup tomorrow night, and just work as hard as I can, be physical and help this team win," Baptiste said.

The Sabres will return to the ice Tuesday morning for the morning skate before taking on the Capitals at KeyBank Center at 7 p.m. Pre-game coverage starts at 6 p.m. with Schopp and the Bulldog from (716) Food and Sport.