Not So Much Ado…

by Ryan

Sabres Edge had a bit more on the status of Pat Kaleta, who is still nursing a leg injury and doesn’t appear to be playing tonight against Toronto. It will be the fifth straight game he has missed, and despite being “nearly recovered” as per Vogl, it looks like the roster will remain the same for the weekend.

Obviously Pat Kaleta brings a lot to the lineup, but I really think giving him some time to fully recover is for the best. The Sabres could certainly use him causing trouble against the Leafs, especially with their league-worst 69.7% penalty kill. Getting a few extra power plays against that would be great, but Kaleta has struggled with injuries all season and I think being careful with him is for the best.

Kaleta is having a strong season, already tying a career high in points (9) and averaging a minute more of ice time compared to last season. However injuries have plagued him all year, with neck and head injuries causing a number of missed games. It’s a product of the way he plays and he is bound to get hurt, but the way the team has played without him doesn’t mean they are desperate for his presence in the lineup.

In fact, I’ve really liked the fourth line over the past few games. Mair and Ellis have done a great job in the offensive zone with the forecheck and controlling play. On Wednesday there were times I thought they were downright dangerous, and with the help of some awful defense from Tampa Bay they had a number of good rushes.

Mair is merely a bit player on this team these days, and being waived made that very clear. However, since coming back I think he has played well enough to warrant the roster spot he’s taking up with Kaleta on the shelf. Kaleta remains the best physical weapon the Sabres have, but right now I can’t see putting him in the lineup at less than 100%. As much as I want him out there, I can’t find a reason to not take it slow.

A seven point lead at the halfway mark may not be much, but at some point the Sabres need to start looking long term. There’s not much to argue here: a Leafs game and a non-conference game on back to back nights is far less important than a healthy Kaleta come April. The playoffs might not even be on the radar for Lindy at this point, but I think they should be.