Short Season Means Teams Will Need More NHL Bodies Than Usual

Mike Weber and new Sabre/Amerk Kevin Porter collide. - Bruce Bennett

With the intensity of the shortened schedule, all NHL teams, including the Sabres, will need to rely on a larger group of players this season than most.

Normally, the Buffalo Sabres play 82 games in approximately 210 days. This year, they (and every other NHL team) are playing 48 games in just about 97 days.

The compressed schedule caused by the lockout will lead to a few changes in the way teams operate this season. For one, there will likely be fewer practices and morning skates thanks to the Sabres playing more than 50% of their games under the "4 games in 7 days" timeline.

Injuries will also likely be a bigger area of concern this year; with the schedule compressed the way it is, there will be less time to recover from nagging soft tissue injuries, and more opportunities for hurt players to miss games.

Finally, the strain of a compacted playing schedule may be too much for some older players to handle, and teams may be looking to rest some of their more wily veterans during the course of the season, much the way the NBA did during their shortened season last year. The Sabres likely won't need to exercise this option as often as other teams thanks to their relative youth, but they do have players, such as Robyn Regehr or Jochen Hecht, that might require a day off or two simply to recover from the strenuous playing schedule.

That being said, each team will need more bodies this year to fill in for injuries or rest than they have in years past. The Sabres took a step in that direction by bringing back Jochen Hecht, and with Mikhail Grigorenko in camp they have five full forward lines to go along with their nine defenseman under contract. And that's not even mentioning AHL players who could com up in a pinch, such as Kevin Porter or Luke Adam.

The Sabres seem to be in decent shape heading into the season as far as NHL-caliber players are concerned, and the battles for the final spots will be fun to watch. As training camp gets going, it should be comforting to Sabres fans that the team isn't done acquiring talent and adding bodies for this intense, shortened season.

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