Signs are pointing towards Nathan Gerbe returning to the Buffalo Sabres lineup tonight.
The fan-favorite participated in a full practice yesterday, skating on a line with Mikhail Grigorenko and Steve Ott. Gerbe is spark-plug who excels at agitating the opposition, and would add even more grit to a lineup already featuring pests Patrick Kaleta and Ott, the punishing Marcus Foligno, and NHL heavyweight fighter John Scott.
I could also foresee Gerbe’s style of play complimenting the rookie Grigorenko much more than that of Jochen Hecht. I am willing to bet that the combo of ‘Gerbs and Grigs’ will get the Russian rookie his first points of the season tonight against the struggling Carolina Hurricanes. Team doctors still need to clear Gerbe before he can play. The 25-year old required spinal cord surgery 6 months ago.
If Gerbe does play, expect to see the tenacity of both Gerbe and Ott to open up some room on the ice for Grigorenko to maneuver. In his initial 2 games, Grigorenko has seemed tentative, mostly moving the puck along whenever he touches it. Despite not generating offense yet, he has played soundly, particularly being defensively responsible. The time is coming for him to become more comfortable, and display his scoring prowess.
Gerbe will also be a welcome offensive addition to a team that has relied solely on one line for its scoring thus far. Gerbe has appeared in 146 NHL games, all with Buffalo, accumulating 62 points.