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by Kevin Snow / Buffalo Sabres

WINNIPEG – The fourth and final stop on Buffalo’s western road swing is Winnipeg, and the Sabres arrived in Manitoba’s capital city this afternoon. They face a huge task on Monday against the Jets, the team that went into Sunday occupying eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 70 points. (The Washington Capitals are in 10th with 69 points, and they host Philadelphia tonight.) Buffalo sits in 11th spot in the East just two points behind Winnipeg at 68 points and have a game in hand. Tomorrow’s game wraps up an eight-game homestand for the Jets, and they are 4-1-2 through the first seven games.

Rather than leave Vancouver right after last night’s 5-3 win over the Canucks, the Sabres spent the night and took an early morning flight that got them to the MTS Centre around 2:30 p.m. local time. The team was given the remainder of the afternoon off following a quick stretch at the rink. Head coach Lindy Ruff says it’s imperative in this busy month of March to keep the players fresh and prepared for the stretch run, or as he calls it – “our playoffs.”

“You look at the schedule, and the fact this going to be four games in six (days), and the travel today being late afternoon. I was weighing whether we should go on or just a team stretch to loosen up,” Ruff explained. “With a day off in between San Jose and Vancouver, we had good energy to start the game. With the number of games we have to play this month, we might have to take a little different approach. In the end we decided to have nobody going on.”

One player did skate today, and that was injured defenseman Robyn Regehr. He was run through some drills by assistant coaches James Patrick and Kevyn Adams to test his “mid-to-lower, lower body” injury. Ruff said that Regehr is better, and joked that if he could outskate Adams during the drills he’d have a chance to play on Monday.

Marcus Foligno was returned to Rochester today after being recalled on an emergency basis. With the Regehr injury forcing newcomer Alexander Sulzer into the lineup, the Sabres were out of extra bodies. Foligno arrived in Vancouver yesterday morning as a precaution for last night’s game.

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