The Sabres haven’t been the same physically since Pat Kaleta went out with a foot injury on Feb. 1. Now, it looks like their X-Factor is ready to return.
We’ve seen an evolution in Kaleta’s game over the last three years. He went from a missile who would take himself out of position for a hit to a pest who wouldn’t fight to a solid defensive player with an edge. He’s still got some room to grow but he has turned himself into a bona fide hockey player.
He’ll work the corners, backcheck and has even found a way to contribute offensively. He’s scored a career-high eight goals in 41 games this season. It’s the 41 games, however, that have become a concern.
Kaleta still plays a reckless brand of hockey and it’s started to wear him down. He tends to invite players to take shots at him (some of those hits have been dirtier than others) because he’s willing to finish every check. Now the injury he suffered against Pittsburgh was a fluky injury — a puck off the foot — but adding them all up, you have to wonder how long Kaleta will hold up.
He hasn’t played in a playoff series yet, but I’m excited to see what he will bring to the table. He’s the type of guy who can go out change the momentum of a game with one shift. He wears his heart on his sleeve and you can tell he’s the local boy, skating around and living his dream. He’s the type of depth player that a team needs in the postseason. Hopefully he’ll be able to keep himself in the lineup.
— Another interesting note in that report from WGR: Both Lindy Ruff and Ryan Miller will make the trip from Vancouver to Pittsburgh. It doesn’t make sense, to me at least, to send Miller to the game unless they plan on starting him. I hope that’s not the case.
UPDATE: Thanks to Jonathan from Getting Caught From Behind for the heads up: Patrick Lalime will start for the Sabres in Pittsburgh. I still don’t know why they couldn’t call up Jhonas Enroth. Maybe they want Miller to get even angrier as soon as he sees Sidney Crosby’s stupid smiling face tomorrow.