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by Brian Wheeler / Buffalo Sabres
Jaroslav Spacek (photo: Getty Images)
Injury news from the Amherst Pepsi Center wasn't exactly encouraging for the Buffalo Sabres.

Half of the Sabres top defensive pairing this season - Jaroslav Spacek - missed practice on Friday after leaving Thursday night's 3-2 shootout loss to Ottawa due to back spasms.

Head coach Lindy Ruff said Spacek was scheduled to meet with team doctors and would most likely miss a couple of days work.

"It doesn't look like he'll play tomorrow," said Ruff regarding Buffalo's Saturday night match-up with the New Jersey Devils.  "It flared up after the first period [Thursday].  I was aware of it.  He thought he'd give it a try.

"I think you saw the results in the second period.  He was probably half speed and couldn't shoot."

According to Ruff, Spacek's back was even "tighter and stiffer" in the morning.  Spacek finished Thursday night with a minus-one rating in less than 15 minutes of ice time.

How difficult will his absense make a meeting with the Atlantic-Division leading Devils?

"I've told the guys, 'No Excuses' and I believed that in Ottawa," said Ruff of his hobbled roster.  "I thought the work we did with the lineup we had in the last two games was a very good effort."


The Sabres trio of injured forwards - Maxim Afinogenov (groin), Tim Connolly (groin), and Derek Roy (shoulder) - skated prior to practice and when the active roster entered the ice,  Afinogenov and Connolly each stayed to participate in organized drills.

Afinogenov wore a red jersey signifying "non-contact" while Connolly skated on a line with Adam Mair and Thomas Vanek.

Ruff said the Afinogenov "isn't ready to play" but Connolly "is in a situation where it's possible."

Roy will not be ready for Saturday.


Tussling with Chris Neil and playing more than 19 minutes of physical hockey against the Eastern-Conference leading Senators warranted a day off for Paul Gaustad. 

The six-foot-four, 229-pound center is one of only six Sabres to appear in all 42 games.  Brian Campbell, Jochen Hecht, Toni Lydman, Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek are the others.

Ruff seemed confident that number would remain at half a dozen come the weekend.

"He's just a little banged up and needed some rest," said Ruff.  "We're anticipating that he'll be able to go [Saturday]."
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