BUFFALO — Ten days ago, as Andrej Sekera was preparing for warm-ups prior to the Sabres’ tilt against Carolina, the defenseman began feeling ill.
“Just came out of nowhere,” Sekera said Friday after practicing inside the First Niagara Center. “My stomach hurt before the game, and then it just hit me – fever, headaches.”
Sekera sat that game, and then hoped to play two nights later in Ottawa.
Instead, the Slovak’s condition “got worse and worse.” He was later diagnosed with pneumonia.
“I didn’t know what it is,” Sekera said. “Then I figured it out. I tossed it into my cell phone in Slovakian language and I understood what it is exactly.”
The illness left Sekera bedridden for five days and short of breath. Even going upstairs was tiring. Sekera lost several pounds, a number between “three or four and eight or 10,” he joked.
Finally, Sekera’s feeling well again and close to playing. Friday was his first full practice. He could skate tonight in Florida against the Panthers. He’ll see how he’s feeling this morning.
“I’m getting a little bit better every day,” Sekera said. “I felt pretty good today. … I will be back to normal in a couple of days.”
But which defenseman gets yanked if Sekera returns from his five-game absence?
With Tyler Myers only one game into a three-game suspension, Brayden McNabb’s still up from Rochester. Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said the rookie played “OK” in Wednesday’s 5-4 shootout loss to Colorado.
Newcomer Alexander Sulzer, a spare part before Sekera became ill, has turned heads subbing. He’s been skating more than 20 minutes a night beside Christian Ehrhoff. Sulzer also scored Wednesday.
Pulling him would be difficult.
Mike Weber, based on his wretched minus-20 rating this season, could be scratched.