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Beyond the Boards: Mar. 7

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
Beyond the Boards is written by the Buffalo Sabres Web Content Coordinator, Brian Wheeler. Joining the Sabres prior to the 2003-04 season, Wheeler is the main contact and content editor for He has worked in the NHL, NFL, AHL and NLL over the past 10 years. Click here to send him an email.

3.7.07, 11:52 p.m. :::: BUSY, BUSY, BUSY DAY

I'm going to be quick today because I'm super busy...

1) Ales Kotalik skated for the first time this morning. Things went well and you could potentially see him back in a week or so.

2) Jaroslav Spacek wore a black jersey and participated in the morning skate. It was a light workout, as all practices are on game days, and he's about a week away from returning also.

NOTE: If you're looking for more injury stuff, scan down. I went through all the guys a couple of days ago (March 5)

3) There's no doubt. Drury is in the lineup tonight and will resume his usual duties. No easy night for him.

3.6.07, 3:38 p.m. :::: YOUTUBE OF THE DAY

So I was cruising around YouTube and found this video, which has all the elements of a decent NHL Hits/Knockouts video.

1) Good soundtrack -- Drowning Pool, "Bodies"
2) Music is synced pretty well with the hits
3) Opens with two of my favorite Sabres moments from last season.

Some of the video quality is not the greatest, but it works.


Also solid... - Scott Stevens Greatest Hits
3.6.07, 12:57 p.m. :::: JOKING AROUND

I wasn't covering the locker room today so this is going to be my only post. I've still got a couple of things for you though.

First, it was pretty funny to watch Lindy chirp Danius Zubrus today. Following practice, a bunch of guys were lined up on the blueline in a one-on-one with Ty Conklin (today's guest on the podcast which is why I wasn't covering the room). Each skater would take a slapshot and then cut through the slot for a close-range opportunity.

Lindy took his slapper low, glove side and tried to do the Crosby leg lift on his second shot. He was stuffed both times.

Zubrus followed and Conklin was up to the challenge again.

When Zubrus got back to the blueline, Lindy shouts, "I think I looked better than you." Lindy loves to give out abuse in a joking manner.

One other little "did you know"... Daniel Briere numbers his sticks. There are two numbers right on the handle written on the tape. The top is his 48. The number right below that is the stick's number. The numbers I saw ranged between 39 and 50.

He uses those numbers to keep track of how much he uses each stick and to designate certain sticks for certain situations. It's not exactly the "Wonder Boy" bat in The Natural but it's close.

3.5.07, 3:40 p.m. :::: HE'S BACK... CONTINUED AGAIN

Zubrus made a comment about him and Drury sitting next to each other so they might as well get used to skating together. That got me wondering how many people actually know the locker room layout.

So here it is... We don't have an unlimited number of stalls; so injured players are replaced by call-ups. Each stall's previous occupant is in parentheses. These are all listed from left to right when you are looking at the lockers.

North wall -- Stereo | Big-screen TV | Dry erase board

South wall -- Stafford | Mair | Pominville | Spacek | Drury | Zubrus | Tallinder

East wall -- Numminen | Paetsch | Vanek | Briere | Lydman | Kalinin | Paille (Kotalik) | Campbell | Connolly

West wall -- Conklin | Miller | Peters | Kaleta (Afinogenov) | Roy | Hecht | MacArthur (Gaustad)

These move somewhat year to year, but they mostly stay the same. Goalies are always in those same two spots because they have a little more room. Folding chairs are set up if we get too many guys up from Rochester and the extra guys don't get stalls. No joke.

I remember where a few former players used to sit but that's actually pretty hard to recall all their positions. For example, Mike Grier was in Numminen's current position and Numminen was where Tallinder is during 2005-06. Curtis Brown sat where Kalinin or Kotalik are, I can't remember the exact position. Jay McKee was in Spacek's stall. Zhitnik was at the end where Numminen is now and Grier was last season.

Lindy Ruff and the training staff determine where everyone sits. If you'll notice, younger players always have a veteran close by.

This setup a bit different than in football where it's more split by position. The wide receivers lockers are all together, offensive linemen with each other, etc.

3.5.07, 2:16 p.m. :::: HE'S BACK... CONTINUED

The remainder of the charts for patients staying in the Sabres hospital wing looks a little something like this...

Andrew Peters -- No definite timeline on his upper-body injury, but he will miss Wednesday. It's doubtful that he will miss significant time though. If you are wondering when Peters got hurt, it was against Montreal. He and Kaleta combined to almost put Steve Begin through the end boards.

Jaroslav Spacek -- Cleared to start using his hand. How quickly he returns will be determined by how quickly his strength returns. Lindy said that it could put him about a week out. He's doubtful for the next three games.

Tim Connolly -- Doing better but still has some discomfort from that stress fracture so his workouts aren't full throttle yet.

Ales Kotalik -- Hasn't tested the knee injury on ice yet, but is losing his limp. He's probably a week or two away. Said Lindy, "it gets to a point where it comes pretty fast now." Meaning, Kotalik will feel better progressively each day.

Max Afinogenov -- Skating but can't use his wrist. Don't expect him back until the end of March, early April. That's inline with the six to eight week range he was first given. He could be back for the last couple of games, which Max himself said he preferred rather than jumping straight into playoff hockey.

Daniel Paille -- Doing well and could be back in a week to 10 days.

Paul Gaustad -- No change. Still out for season.

3.5.07, 1:57 p.m. :::: HE'S BACK...

Finally, the team is starting to heal. After missing three games, Chris Drury will be back in the lineup Wednesday night against his former team. Drury shed his black "no-contact" jersey and skated the full practice on Monday, centering Dainius Zubrus and Mike Ryan.

Drury said that in some ways it's felt like months since he's played. The revolving door that has been Drury's line continues. To date, he's skated with Drew Stafford, Ales Kotalik, Jiri Novotny, Daniel Paille, Jochen Hecht, Derek Roy, Thomas Vanek and Paul Gaustad. I could have missed somebody (Adam Mair ?) but you get the idea. Now you can add Ryan and Zubrus to that list. People always say the great players can play alongside anyone. In case you didn't know, Drury already has a career high 33 goals and is on pace to break 67 points, his other high set last season.

Lines from today... injury update coming later...

Hecht -- Briere -- Pominville
Ryan -- Drury -- Zubrus
Vanek -- Roy -- Stafford
Kaleta -- MacArthur -- Mair

3.2.07, 2:21 p.m. ::: LINE 'EM UP

Quick hits for today...

1. Drury's out. He skated with a black jersey. Looked good, but won't be ready.
2. Tallinder's in. His sore throat is better.
3. Zubrus looks to be skating with Mike Ryan and Adam Mair in his first game, if you trust the lines from yesterday.
4. I'm not expecting to see Ty Conklin make his Sabres debut tonight.

Thanks to everybody who submitted their lines from yesterday. Here are just a few of the entries (five to be specific) that I selected. Sorry, you don't win any prize except seeing your name on the site for getting your lines online.

Please for the sake of entertainment, don't get too picky on whether or not someone put these in the proper order (by position). I just pasted them in as is.

I'll put my personal guess (and a guess is all it is) at the bottom...

Jonathan Titterington, from Goshen, IN
Briere - Pominville - Hecht
Drury - Kotalik - Connelly
Roy - Afinogenov - Vanek
Zubrus - Mair - Paille

Ben Leitch from MN
Vanek- Drury - Zubris
Afinogenov - Briere - Pominville
Kotalik - Roy - Hecht
Paille - Mair - Ryan

Mario Ferrentino from Hamburg, NY

Roy - Drury - Kotalik
Hecht - Briere - Pommer
Vanek - Zubrus - Max
Paille - Connolly - Stafford

Adam Pensel from Queensbury, NY
Hecht - Briere - Pominville
Roy - Drury - Kotalik
Vanek - Zubrus - Afinogenov
Stafford - Connolly - MacArthur

Pete Elbert from Allegany, NY

My lines are below. And by the way, how tough is this to figure out? Man, there is a lot of talent on this team when it's healthy.

The numbering below means nothing. It was just easier notation for the explanations.

1. Hecht - Briere - Pominville
2. Kotalik - Drury - Stafford
3. Vanek - Roy - Afinogenov
4. Zubrus - Connolly - Paille

1) Been together all year. I fear change.
2) This is a 1+1+1=3 situation. I kicked around the idea of moving Roy to this line because of his success during last season's playoffs with Drury, but it was killing me to breakup Max-Derek-Thomas. Plus, I honestly don't think Lindy will separate those three.
3) See reason 1).
4) Zubrus is an unknown (he hasn't even played a game for us yet). Connolly can play alongside anybody if he's 100%. I like Paille's upside.

That's it... thanks for reading...

YouTube bonus: Battle of the little guys: Daniel Briere vs. Mike Comrie

3.1.07, 4:38 p.m. ::: POST PRACTICE CONTINUED

Ok, so things got a little out of hand and I didn't get on here as much as I wanted today. Here's a quick piece from a notebook that I'm writing for tonight. I like to put this type of info in the blog but thought it was too interesting not to put in the piece for non-Insiders as well.

But you guys are getting the first crack at it because I like you more.

Dainius Zubrus made a big splash in his second practice with the Sabres. Always looking for ways to build team unity, head coach Lindy Ruff put Zubrus in the hot seat and the right-winger delivered.

Zubrus was challenged by Ruff to score with a slapshot from center ice. If he hit the net, practice was over. Miss and the entire team had to skate sprints. It's a common tactic that the longest-tenured coach in the league has used over the past few weeks to grow the camaraderie between veterans and rookies after they were recalled from Rochester.

The 28-year-old Lithuanian put it dead center.

Lindy is renowned for this. I swear the guy could teach one of those corporate team-building weekends if he wanted to. Last season he was taking the guys on curling or bowling trips on off days and this season he puts a focus on the rookies. Clarke MacArthur had to make the shot last week (missed on his first attempt, but scored from the blueline).

By the way, Max is pretty hyped up to have Zubrus on the team. In the past, they worked out during the offseason together in Switzerland and both played on Russia's 2004-05 World Cup team. So there is a friendship there. His review of Buffalo's latest offensive acquisition was nothing short of glowing.

Lets play a fun game today. Assume everyone except for Gaustad is back (including Connolly). What are the Sabres lines going to be? Email me your thoughts and I'll post a few of the responses.

And if you're a fan of Martin Biron, you'll love this. As well as everyone else, a little part of me was sad to see Marty go. But Chris Drury said something that absolutely blew me away. To quote Drury, "he's the best teammate I've ever played with."

That says something because 1) Drury doesn't throw those types of compliments around without it being true, and 2) Dru has played with some of the best of all time.

Think of the company that Marty beat out for that distinction in Drury's mind: Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Jarome Iginla just to name three. It's a testament to Marty's character.

3.1.07, 1:14 p.m. ::: POST PRACTICE

Sorry for the limited posts over the last couple of days. I was working remotely from Boston (league marketing meetings) and didn't have much downtime. Trying to load up with caffeine now to get through today, so if I'm a little slow, contribute it to getting up at 4 a.m. on Tuesday to catch a 7 a.m. flight.

On to practice...

Lots of news today so here's the quick hitters. As always, audio will be posted shortly. These are in no specific order.

1. Sporting a mutli-colored shiner, Chris Drury skated on his own prior to practice and spoke to the media. He hopes to be back in the lineup on Wednesday against the team that drafted him, the Colorado Avalanche.
2. We send our sympathies to Brian Campbell, who missed practice due to a death in the family.
3. Henrik Tallinder was out sick, but the hope is that he will be feeling better tomorrow. Yes, it's the same type of illness that took Danny Briere out of the lineup on Tuesday.
4. Speaking of Danny B, he's fine. After a full practice, no doubt he'll be back tomorrow.

After last week's injury update, I got a few emails asking about Max. Well, anyone who is looking for a Afinogenov update is in luck today.

Max said his wrist is healing well, but there is no concrete timeline for his return. One thing is for certain, Max wants to be back when it matters most. He's riding a stationary bike to keep his legs in working order, and ideally, he would like to see action in a couple of games before the post-season begins.

More to come...

2.26.07, 12:42 p.m. ::: INJURY UPDATE

Here's a quick synopsis of the opening portion of Lindy Ruff's press conference this morning, which was an update on various player's injuries.

Chris Drury, who was at the arena this morning, is progressing and is in pretty good spirits. Most of his concussion symptoms have subsided.

"He won't be on the ice still for a few more days, but we really feel he's doing really well," said Ruff.

Adam Mair sat out practice on Monday for precautionary reasons after blocking a shot in Ottawa on Saturday night. Both Mair and Ruff expect him to be in the lineup for tomorrow night's game against Toronto.

Jiri Novotny skated in what Ruff deemed a "light practice." He didn't participate in any one-on-one drills where there could be contact. If things go well, he could be ready for Friday against Montreal.

Both Daniel Paille and Jaroslav Spacek are a little further away in terms of recovery time than the rest of the group above.

Paille had a pin surgically placed in his finger but hasn't skated yet. He'll need a couple of weeks worth of conditioning to be game ready.

Spacek is due for another X-Ray by the end of the week and could have a recovery timeline of a week or two. According to Ruff, he's been skating on a regular basis and won't need any additional time once his hand heals.

Here's the latest on Tim Connolly. He's close to being pain free from the stress fracture he sustained while working out. Ruff said the team is taking the cautious road with Connolly and wants to carefully watch his workouts in order to prevent an aggravation of the injury. His timeline wasn't updated.

Biron gave some insight into his mindset as the trade deadline approaches, while Briere told how he learned of the trade that brought him to Buffalo. Danny was caught completely by surprise when the Gratton deal went down. Interesting stuff.

FORWARD LINES TODAY (Defensemen remained the same)
Jochen Hecht -- Daniel Briere -- Jason Pominville
Thomas Vanek -- Derek Roy -- Drew Stafford
Michael Ryan -- Jiri Novotny -- Mark Mancari
Andrew Peters -- Clarke MacArthur -- Patrick Kaleta

* Adam Mair was adsent
2.23.07, 1:58 PM ::: THE DAY AFTER CONTINUED

Lots of action in the locker room today. Here are the links if you want to listen to any of the audio. You may notice a recurring theme to the questions. I don't know why. Did something happen lately?

Marty was being Marty today. He was telling us how the Sabres that were bounced from the game last night and all the injured guys were joking around about who was going to back-up Miller in goal. The general consensus, according to Biron, was that either Brian Campbell or Toni Lydman would have to suit up.

Biron's pick was Lydman, but he didn't know if Toni could block shots with goalie equipment the way he does in a regular game.

2.23.07, 1:22 PM ::: THE DAY AFTER

Couple of quick updates from practice before I throw the audio up in the multimedia section.

Drury is experiencing concussion sort of symptoms and is out for tomorrow. There is no timeframe for his return.

Mark Mancari (Ruff: "Right handed shot, good goal scorer") has been recalled from Rochester, leaving Dylan Hunter and Marek Zagrapan as the only two forwards from Rochester that Buffalo hasn't called up.

He's a big kid and skated with Adam Mair and Mike Ryan.

Donning a black jersey, Jiri Novotny skated today for the first time since aggravating his high ankle sprain against Boston on Feb. 17. He didn't participate in all the drills but looked good for his first time on the ice in almost a week.

Lines from practice
Hecht - Briere - Pominville
Vanek - Roy - Stafford
Ryan - Mair - Mancari
Peters - MacArthur - Kaleta

Lydman - Tallinder
Campbell - Paetsch
Kalinin - Numminen

2.22.07 ::: AND AWAY WE GO...

Originally, I had planned on starting this blog more towards the end of the season. You know, around playoff time. But with the parade of media into the locker room to talk to Buffalo's most recent call-up, Patrick Kaleta, I figured why not start now.

If you like the blog, feel free to email me through the webmaster account. If you don't, same goes. I don’t mind a little constructive criticism. We'll do this blogging thing until it gets old or something better comes along.

On to practice...

Nothing spectacular happened this morning. I would give Lindy's morning press conference a listen (since you're reading this I know you're an Insider and have access), he's pretty funny in a couple of parts.

Most interesting piece of info from the PC was that Kaleta is going to be staying in Buffalo for a while. Originally, I wasn't sure whether his tenure with the team would be determined by his play, but it seems that he will be eating a few dinners with mom and dad in Angola (town a couple of minutes from Buffalo down the I-90) over the next couple of weeks.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Kaleta, here's a quick synopsis. He's from Buffalo (Angola, close enough), not that big (listed at 5'11'', 195) for the way he plays but would put his head through a plate glass window if he saw a puck on the other side of it.

Seriously, this kid is a scary when he's on the ice. He's got a nonstop motor coupled with a complete reckless abandon for personal safety.

Lindy even made the joke that he made the morning skate an optional so Kaleta didn't hurt anybody. If his own teammates got a little miffed about being hit during training camp, it will be interesting to see how the Senators react when/if the rookie lays out one of their own.

He was a player born to be loved by Sabres fans. Here are a couple of YouTube clips to serve as proof. You'll get a feel for how he plays pretty quickly: Fight vs. Filip Novak; Hit compilation when he played for Peterborough (OHL).

But a great kid none the less. Very humble, and to steal Lindy's quote about Nathan Paetsch, you have to love his enthusiasm.

That's one of the paradoxes of hockey. Why are the nicest guys almost always the ones who inflict the most punishment on the ice? You can throw Andrew Peters, Rob Ray and former Amerk/Sabre Shawn McMorrow into that genre as well.

But I digress. Make sure you flip over to tonight's game (MSG, 7 p.m.). You make see Kaleta take somebody's head off.

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