Fitzgerald returns to training with Sabres

Casey Fitzgerald Back to practice on the ice with the Sabres at the KeyBank Center on Wednesday, his first meeting with the team since Saturday’s preseason game against Pittsburgh.

Fitzgerald missed a practice and Tuesday’s meeting with Carolina due to injury.

“You’ve been dying to come back here all summer, and then a week, with just a little tweaking, but I’m feeling fine,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s more of a precaution. They want to make sure we’re on top and Take care of it and do what needs to be done. All is well now.”

Fitzgerald, 25, made his NHL debut last December after two full seasons in Rochester. He went on to play 36 games for Buffalo with six assists and built a reputation as a player who made opponents fear his physical confrontational play.

His rookie season consisted of four games, the first of which was on his debut against Pittsburgh.

“We’ve noticed bite and guts, but it’s important that someone wearing another team’s other jersey knows when Casey Fitzgerald On the ice,” Sabres coach Don Granato said.

“It’s very important. Even though he’s small, he can make a difference in the game. He’s holding the players accountable in a different way than the rest of our defenders, and that’s had an impact on us, a real positive impact.”

Here are some more notes from Wednesday’s practice.

1. Kyle Okposo Missed after suffering an upper-body injury in the Sabres’ preseason game against Carolina on Tuesday.

Granato said Okposo does have a chance to play in next Thursday’s regular-season opener.

“He needs a few days,” Granato said. “The issues he’s dealing with will be resolved. I mentioned yesterday that you might see him on the ice for a few days. I think that still holds true.”

2. Sabre assigned to striker Sean Malone Go to Rochester after practice. Malone missed the start of training camp while recovering from offseason surgery, but joined the team late last week.

3. Here’s how the Sabres line up in Oposo’s absence and Fitzgerald’s return:

October 5
53 Jeff Skinner 72 Taji Thompson 71 Victor Olofsson
twenty two Jack Quinn 37 Kathy Mittelstadt 89 Alex Tucci
19 Peyton Krebs twenty four Dylan Cozens 77 JJ Peterka
28 Zengers Gilgensen 74 Rasmus Asplund 29 Vinnie Inostrosa
8 Riley Sheehan 15 Anders Bjork
LD research and development G
twenty three Matthias Samuelson 26 Rasmus Darling 31 Eric Comrie
25 Owen Power 10 Henry Jokihaju 1 Uko-Pekka Lukonen
78 Jacob Bryson 46 Ilya Lyubshkin
20 lawrence aviator 45 Casey Fitzgerald
38 kale / 4 Jeremy Davis 33 Chase Priski

4. The Sabres have 11 defenders practicing on the ice. That number will be reduced to seven or eight once the deadline for the 23-man roster arrives next Monday.

Those numbers, Fitzgerald said, created aggressive competition.

“It’s always great to have competition anyway,” Fitzgerald said. “If you’re not competing, you can be in a pretty tough position as a team. It’s about being a professional hockey player. It’s nice that we have such good trust.

“It’s just that the atmosphere here is great. Me and all these people go out to dinner every night and we’re best friends, so that’s something we all know. Personally, we’re trying to build a team, but we’ll push Be the best of each other. At the end of the day, we’re all on the same team. We want to make each other better and get ready for the season.”

5. Alex Tuch had a special guest at the rink:

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: This place has been occupied by dogs!

That’s Tuch’s golden retriever, Teddy.

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