BUFFALO, NY- When the Sabres face off against the New York Islanders Sunday afternoon at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo John Tavares won't be in the lineup for the Islanders. The team says he's "week to week" with a lower body injury. Tavares was injured Friday night in the Islanders 2-to-1 win over the Devils.
The Sabres will be without forward Kyle Okposo. Coach Dan Bylsma said after Saturday's practice at the Harborcenter "Kyle is sick and ill right now and hasn’t really recovered from it at this point in time."
The Sabres will have defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen in the lineup. His three game suspension for hitting Pittsburgh's Jake Guentzel is over. Ristolainen said "I got a good rest. I worked out well, picked up practices and I'm ready go to. It felt like a month. I don't like resting. Obviously I can't say it didn't feel good. I got some good sleep, a couple of days off. So I feel really fresh right now."
Coach Dan Bylsma said forward C.J. Smith will make his NHL debut. Bylsma said he noticed Smith's tenacity in practice. "He’s not a big guy. He’s not going to be fooling anyone out there with his size. I’ve liked the way in practices he’s competed on pucks and been tenacious on pucks.”
Smith, decided to skip his senior year at U-Mass Lowell to sign with the Sabres. He was asked how he plans to overcome the nervousness that comes with making his NHL debut. " Just go out there, just take it a shift at time. I think you can't think too far in the future just go out there, get the legs under you for the first shift and then go from there."
Face off is scheduled for 3-pm Sunday afternoon.