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by Erin Pollina / Buffalo Sabres
Maxim Afinogenov (Photo: Getty Images)
Maxim Afinogenov is one step closer to finding his way back to the Sabres lineup.

The winger practiced with the team today for the first time since injuring his groin.

“I am not coming back yet, but we will see how it goes,” Afinogenov said.

Afinogenov has not played since Jan. 3, missing five games since being placed on the injured reserve list - something that does not agree with the forward.

“It is definitely frustrating. You want to be there and you want to help the team,” Afinogenov said. “I’m just wishing I can but there is nothing I can do right now. I just want to heal as fast as possible and go out there.”

The stretch is the longest Afinogenov has been out since suffering a shoulder injury last season that took him out for 21 games.

He will practice again tomorrow, but Lindy Ruff said it is doubtful he will be ready in time for Wednesday’s game against the New York Rangers.

“I don’t believe so,” Ruff said of Afinogenov’s readiness for Wednesday. “Max was at a guarded pace today in practice. Without really practicing full for a couple of days, I just don’t think those players will be able to match the pace that the other guys have played at. That effort [against New Jersey Saturday], I said, may have been our best effort. I think with not being able to get the conditioning type of stuff in, he won’t be able to play.”

As several other players were absent from practice Monday, Ruff addressed the status of their injuries as well:

“In the case of [Toni] Lydman, [Thomas] Vanek, and Paul Gaustad, we are right now approaching that those players will practice tomorrow and be ready to play,” Ruff said.

Tim Connolly:

“He’s getting better. We just decided an extra day, he had treatment and everything yesterday, would be good for him… With his groin it’s kind of at a stalemate. It’s not bad but it’s not good enough to play,” Ruff said.

Derek Roy skated after practice with assistant coach James Patrick.  Roy hasn't played since suffering a shoulder injury Jan. 6.
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