The Sabres' Mittelstadt is back practicing.
Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) – The Sabres play host to the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, but maybe more importantly, Casey Mittelstadt joined the team for the morning skate marking it the first time he’s been on the ice with his teammates since opening night. Mittelstadt has been gone for almost six weeks and Don Granato said he needs to get some practice time in, “The biggest challenge is our limited practice times, so he was on today in a non-contact way and we need to get him involved in contact, but we don’t have a lot of practice time because we have game days here, so we’re going to read it day-by-day to see how he feels, but he does need to go through at least a couple of practices with some good contact before we feel comfortable even assessing where he’s at.”
Originally it was thought that Mittelstadt would only miss around three weeks. He said, “It’s been long, but I haven’t really had any setbacks. I think more than anything it’s just a tricky injury and it’s just been slower than expected and something you can’t really mess with too much.”
Mittelstadt is a big part of this team and they need him in the lineup if they’re going to be successful. He said, “That’s been the hardest part for me, especially seeing the opportunity in front of me and it was hard at first seeing the guys get off to such a good start and not being part of it was really tough for me and now we’ve been struggling a little bit and it’s only gotten harder.”
Mittelstadt said he doesn’t know exactly how the injury happened. It was on the rush up ice with Vinnie Hinostroza and it happened when he turned away from the play.
Arttu Ruotsalainen will be returning to the lineup and will also be returning to the wing where he excelled last season both in Buffalo and Rochester. He has just two goals and two assists for four points in 15 games playing center.
Aaron Dell gets the call in goal. Dustin Tokarski has given up nine goals in his last two starts playing only 60:55 and being pulled in both. Granato said he senses a loss in confidence with Tokarski and feels Dell is the hotter goalie. Dell played 58:30 in relief of Tokarski and gave up just one goal in those two games. He did start a game in between and lost 5-4 to the New York Rangers. Dell is 0-3-0 with a 3.72 goals against and .874 save percentage.
Boston hasn’t gotten great goaltending either. Both Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman have a poor save percentage of .908.
Brad Marchand is Boston’s leading scorer with eight goals and 12 assists for 20 points in 15 games. Buffalo lost to Ullmark and the Bruins here on Oct. 22, 4-1. That was a combination of Ullmark playing his best game of the season and the Sabres having absolutely no answer for the line of Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.
At 9-6-0 Boston is fifth in the Atlantic Division, but they have five games in hand on both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings.
Boston has won three out of four games with all three wins identical 5-2 scores. Like the Sabres, the Bruins were shutout at home by the Calgary Flames 4-0.
Join Schopp and the Bulldog for the pregame starting at 6:00 when they’ll be joined by Granato, Mittelstadt and Robert Hagg.