BUFFALO, N.Y. – After a slew of recent roster moves, the Wild will roll out a different lineup to face the Sabres Tuesday in Buffalo that could include defenseman Anthony Bitetto making his team debut.
Coach Bruce Boudreau told Bitetto to be ready to play since he’ll draw in Tuesday or Thursday at home vs. the Oilers.
“I’m really excited,” Bitetto said. “I haven’t played in a little while here, so I’m looking forward to getting back out here. New team, fresh start and these are big games coming up and these are the fun times to play in. So I’m really excited.”
Bitetto, who hasn’t played since Jan.4, was claimed off waivers from the Predators Jan.25. His first appearance comes on the heels of the Wild assigning defenseman Nate Prosser to the minors, along with winger J.T. Brown. The Wild also recalled forwards Luke Kunin and Kyle Rau from Iowa of the American Hockey League.
“A guy that’s going to create offense when it’s there,” Bitetto said when asked about his style on the blue line. “Be physical at all times and defend hard. I like to compete. I like to win, so whatever it takes to win.”
When Bitetto slots in, he’ll play on the left side – taking Nick Seeler’s spot on the third pairing.
“He hasn’t had a rest,” Boudreau said of Seeler. “He plays awful hard. He hasn’t played a lot of minutes lately, but sometimes we always tell the young guys that sometimes it doesn’t hurt to watch a game.”
This is the start of a four-game week, with three of those games on the road. After returning home to host Edmonton, the Wild will play a back-to-back against the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders.
“It sets the tone for the week, especially everybody that we play at this stage is hungry for points,” Boudreau said. “So you’re getting the best efforts. It’s not like Game 4 of the year. So you’re getting everybody’s best efforts.”
Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Mikael Granlund
Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Charlie Coyle
Jordan Greenway-Victor Rask-Luke Kunin
Kyle Rau-Eric Fehr-Marcus Foligno
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Greg Pateryn
Anthony Bitetto-Brad Hunt
6: Wins for the Wild during its last nine road games.
5: Consecutive victories for the team in Buffalo.
113: Saves over the last 120 shots goalie Devan Dubnyk has faced.
.930: Save percentage for Dubnyk in his career vs. the Sabres.
4: Assists for winger Mikael Granlund in his last three games.
About the Sabres:
Buffalo is in the midst of a seven-game homestand that’s tied for the longest in franchise history. The team has dropped two in a row, getting outscored 8-3 in those games. Overall, the Sabres are 14-7-3 at home. Captain Jack Eichel leads the team in points with 54, while winger Jeff Skinner paces the pack in goals with 31. Goalie Linus Ullmark is 10-5-3 with a .914 save percentage and 2.89 goals-against average.