DETROIT — At one point in his career, Luke Adam would be frustrated.
He’s gone up to the NHL. He’s gone back down to the American Hockey League.
But after four years in the Buffalo Sabres’ organization, he understands the drill. And on Friday when he appeared in his 86th NHL game, he was focused on making the most of his latest opportunity.
Adam joined the Sabres on Friday night in Detroit, where Buffalo lost to the Red Wings, 3-2.
For a moment, it looked as if the emergency call-up might need an emergency call up of his own. Just 10:34 into the game, Adam took a puck to his face, leaving a trail of blood on the ice as he skated off to the dressing room.
Adam was working for position in front of the net when Jamie McBain let go a slap shot from the blue line. The knuckleball shot then deflected off Red Wings defenseman Brian Lashoff and hit Adam in the face.
“The way things have been going, I couldn’t look at it,” Nolan said. “I didn’t want to see it. I didn’t want to see the replay. When we came in the dressing room they said he was going to be ready to go. It just looked like a little cut on his jaw. It looked like it was going to be a major cut on his jaw, but thankfully it wasn’t that serious.”
Adam returned for the second period, playing on a line with Johan Larsson and Nicolas Deslauriers and was excited for his third call-up of the season.
“No I don’t think so,” Adam said when asked if the transit between the AHL and the NHL has been frustrating. “I think I’m past that point now. Maybe when I was a little younger it was a little frustrating, but I’m not even focused on it. It comes more often and in better circumstances when you’re not focused on it. It’s been a good season and I’m looking forward to tonight.”
He has 27 goals with 47 points in 53 games for the Amerks this season.
The numbers are impressive and coach Ted Nolan wants to see Adam make that transition to the NHL. “Luke’s been playing really well down in the American league … Now we’ve just got to figure out how to get him to do that at this level,” Nolan said. “It’s another shot for Luke. … It’s a whole fresh regime coming in right how and you get a fresh pair of eyes put on you and expectations are a little bit different.”
Those fresh eyes and expectations not only bring new opportunities for players to make impressions. Apparently they also will be making some changes to the offseason condition for the Sabres organization.
There are 10 players on the injured list, including latest casualties Drew Stafford, Henrik Tallinder and Marcus Foligno. Foligno was injured in his first shift Thursday in St. Louis while Stafford was “banged up” Tuesday against New Jersey and did not play against the Blues.
Nolan said that Foligno’s injury may not keep him out for the rest of the season.
“Foligno surprisingly is not as bad as we originally thought,” Nolan said. “He was walking around pretty good today, which is a good sign but we’ll keep our fingers crossed with that. Drew, he was walking worse today than he was yesterday. So we’ll see with him also.”
But one thing is clear from Nolan – the injuries that have plagued the team late in the season has him ready to address summer training. “You look at the number of injuries that we have, if you’re well conditioned and take care of yourself in the summer, that’s the foundation you need during the wintertime,” Nolan said. “We’ll reassess that and get doing some things differently and maybe have a different result.”
Referee Don Van Massenhoven officiated his final NHL game Friday night. He closed the books on a career that included 1,278 regular-season games, 87 Stanley Cup playoff games, six Stanley Cup finals and the 2006 Olympics.