BUFFALO, N.Y. — Sabres captain Jack Eichel went through practice with his teammates Thursday morning at Harborcenter and seemed to pronounce himself ready to go for Friday's game at Carolina.
"I felt good today, back to 100 percent. I'm excited for the game tomorrow," Eichel said.
However, head coach Phil Housley wouldn't commit to Eichel returning to the lineup for the Carolina game.
"I wouldn't declare him in the lineup," said Housley. "Obviously we'll see how he reacted to practice and we'll know more tomorrow."
The Sabres are at Carolina Friday night and home against Tampa Bay Saturday night. The Hurricanes and Lightning are two of the NHL's hottest teams. Tampa leads the NHL with 68 points. The Hurricanes have won five straight and play at Tampa Thursday night.
Sabres forward Jeff Skinner spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Hurricanes.
"There will be definitely be some emotions but its just part of the game part of life," Skinner said. "I think you just have to find a way to sort of channel it, I guess, and use some of it to your advantage, and other than that just focus on the game because we have a big job in front of us."
Housley, who spent the first part of his career with the Sabres before moving on has an idea what it might be like for Skinner as he returns to Carolina for the first time.
"You can prepare all you want for it but until you get there and you get on the ice facing your ex-teammates it gets a little emotional," Housley said. "He's going to have to manage that. We know the importance of this game for him so we're going to try to do everything possible to help him through it."
So far, Eichel is the Sabres' only All-Star. Skinner is part of the NHL's Last Man In vote, where fans choose the player they want to see in the game.
Voting ends Thursday night at 11:59 pm. Skinner is second to Alex Ovechkin in goals with 29.
Friday's game in Carolina is a 7:30 face-off.