The Bills are done, the Winter Classic has passed, so it’s time to really sink our proverbial collective teeth into the hockey season.
Ottawa is in town tonight and both teams will have some lineup adjustments for the game.
Anton Volchenkov will be back for Ottawa. The shot-blocking machine has missed the last 15 games with a broken finger. That meant Christoph Schubert moving back to forward and Nick Foligno getting sent back down to the minors. If Volchenkov’s really back up to speed, whether it’s Martin Gerber or the flaky Ray Emery between the pipes, it will be tough for the already struggling Sabres offense to generate any chances.
And that’s why Lindy Ruff is mixing things up, too. After having Paul Gaustad center Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville during the outdoor game, he’s moved Derek Roy away from Thomas Vanek and onto that line.
Vanek and Kotalik, now back on the right wing where he’s been for most of his NHL career, were joined by Tim Connolly.
From The Buffalo News:
Gaustad skated Thursday with (Dan) Paille and Maxim Afinogenov, who was then replaced by Drew Stafford after tweaking a groin muscle and leaving the workout early. Ruff said Afinogenov is questionable for tonight but that Stafford could be cleared to return from a concussion to take the spot on that line.
Against the red-hot line of Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson, and Jason Spezza (5th, 7th, and 10th in league scoring, respectively), the Sabres are going to need all the help they can get.
Face off is at 7:30 from HSBC Arena.
In other news, Teppo Numminen is close to returning following his latest heart condition.
Quoth The News:
Defenseman Teppo Numminen was back on the ice Thursday after getting positive reviews from his heart checkup the day before at the Cleveland Clinic.
Numminen denied telling NBC’s Mike Emrick that he was 10 days away from returning to action; Emrick reported such a conversation took place during the network’s telecast Tuesday.
“Who said that? That was just a rumor,” Numminen said. “No, I didn’t say that. I don’t know where that came from.”
Numminen did say that he’s moving closer to a return but is still on a week-to-week schedule.
“We’re going in the right direction, working hard, no aches and pains,” he said. “Every week you feel a difference.”