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by Brian Wheeler / Buffalo Sabres
Beyond the Boards is written by the Buffalo Sabres Website Manager, 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 11 years.  Click here to send him an email.

Drew Stafford (photo: Getty Images)
Drew Stafford and Maxim Afinogenov could be in the Sabres lineup tonight against the Montreal Canadiens.

They each have been cleared to play, but one question lingers. 

Do you really want to change up lines that won the last game 8-4 when you could gain valuable ground on a Northeast Division rival?

Lindy Ruff wasn't going to spill the beans this morning.   Ruff, never one to divulge much when it comes to lineups prior to puck drop, did make one thing clear though.

"We're going to dress our best possible lineup to win the game at the end of the day,"  Ruff said.

So let's do some role playing today.

You're Lindy Ruff.  What's your lineup for Friday night?

[UPDATE - 2/29/08 at 5:29 p.m.: Thanks to everyone who emailed in their line combinations.  The submissions below were just a small percentage of the ones I received.   I've got to cut off taking submissions though so that I can get ready for the game (ie pound a Red Bull and walk upstairs).  I'll post the actual combinations below when they're available so that you can see who got it right.]

[UPDATE 2 - 2/29/08 at 7:11 p.m.: Tonight's lines will be...

Vanek -- Roy -- Bernier
Kotalik -- Connolly -- Pominville
Paille -- Gaustad -- Stafford
Kaleta -- Mair -- Afinogenov

And that's it for this edition of the Beyond the Boards blog.]


Listen to Lindy Ruff and Stafford talk this morning.

Stafford Pre-Game 
Ruff Pre-Game 

Keep Bernier with Roy and Vanek..
-- Nick
I'd rest Peters and put in Stafford.  Leave Kaleta in and rest Afinogenov another day or so.
-- Ian Gallihue from Magnolia, DE
I'd say to try and keep the same lines we had on Wednesday night especially the Vanek-Roy-Bernier line definitely, they had a lot of chemistry for the first night with Bernier. Same with the Kaleta-Mair-Peters Line, they also worked well together. If we get back Stafford & Afinogenov I would try putting them with other lines to see what works well. The Vanek-Roy-Bernier Line I wouldn't touch, they did AWSOME together and it should definitely stay that way! -- Amanda from Buffalo, NY
There is no way Lindy Ruff can, in good conscience, continue to play Andrew Peters when almost all the forwards are healthy.  The 4th line, also known as the Energy Line, has been wonderful.  But Peters is a liability, his goal the other night withstanding. 

Ruff needs to at least get Drew Stafford in the lineup tonight, which means Peters sits.  I think the difficult decision for Ruff is whether to play Max Afinogenov...because if he does then Clarke MacArthur will probably sit.  And at this time I will definitely take MacArthur over Afinogenov.  -- Adam Berke from Charlotte, NC
Keep Wednesday's line together - Max hasn't played in over a month, Drew's been out for a little bit as well. -- Lisa
I would throw Stafford in for Peters (Goal or no goal) We are not going to fight with Montreal...we need to skate. I would hold off on Max until after the should be healed he not out another 2 months. Go "Bernie"! -- Buff Heller from Marshfield, WI
I would scratch Andrew Peters and Clark MacArthur.  Clark hasn't been producing as much lately, and by putting Max and Drew back in, they might spark some good chemistry.  Keep Bernier with Roy and Vanek definitely.  The other lines though are up in the air. -- Dennis from Dryden, NY
Vanek-Roy-Bernier -- Thats just common sense.

Pommer-Connolly-Afinogenov -- That line will make the defenders back off with their speed and skill and create odd man rushes.
Paille-Gaustad-Kotalik -- They bring energy and will out work their opponents down low.

Kaleta-Mair-Stafford -- The energy line. They will antagonize the other team, and throw them off their game. Look, I love MacArthur but he takes bad penalties at the wrong times, and I just plain dislike Peters in this lineup. -- Brad from North Tonawanda, NY
Keep the lines exactly the same as we had Wednesday night vs Nashville. That was the most complete team effort we have seen all season. No one can deny that.  Even the 4th line registered a goal.

It’s a fight for the playoffs now, and players need to fight for their spots.  Wait until a player plays an average game until before he puts Afinogenov and Stafford back in.

Yes, Afinogenov and Stafford will be great as soon as they are back in the lineup, but I think Ruff should send the message now that everyone needs to fight for their position in the lineup.  It’s a great thing when you have this much depth at the forward position going into playoffs, especially if he can force all of them to battle to be in the lineup.

Keep the lines the same as Wednesday and lets see another battle tonight! -- Scott G. from Buffalo, NY
Bernier-Roy-Vanek - you'd be coo-coo for cocoa puffs to break them up
McCarthur-Connolly-Pommer - They had a great game against Philly (combined for five points and a +9)
Kotalik-Goose-Stafford - a big line that can score
Kaleta-Mair-Peters - a big line that can ... be big (come on, they scored a HUGE goal last game. Keep em together!)

Sorry Danny Paille -- Jon from Ogden, UT
As much as it pains me to say this, I would send Kaleta and MacArthur down and see what Afinogenov and Stafford can do. If it doesn't work out then sit them out. -- Josh Hathaway from Holland, NY
I would hate to see the lines are changed, but I would put one person to sit out as my thought that Kotalik would be the only skater I would bench if I had an option to do so, and do a very little tweak…

Roy centers Vanek and Bernier. Connolly centers MacArthur and Pominville. Gaustad centers Paille and Afinogenov. Mair centers Kaleta and Peters.

May I make a comment about Andrew Peters, “Boy he has gotten quicker!” is my comment I have been saying for the last bunch of times he has played. And his speed gets him rewarded with a goal in the last game.  -- Andrew Ditch from Tonawanda, NY
 I'd definitely keep the lines the same.  Making changes could totally screw with the chemistry of the lines, which was 100% last game (Clearly!)  Sorry Max and Drew, maybe next time! -- Mary
Bernier/Roy/Vanek- A line on par with Philly's big boys of the 90s with LeClair and Lindros. Blue chip skill guys with rare size and the ability to bang down low and in front centered by an above average playmaker.

Kotalik/Connoly/Pomminville- Both these wingers must play with a player that can see the ice as well as Tim, otherwise they become average snipers.

Afinogenov/Gaustad/Stafford- Goose has strugled this year in his quest to become a 20-goal scorer. Kind of a make or break time. Put him with some skill guys and find out if he is just a great fourth line center or if he can develop into an important role player.

McArthur/Peters/Kaletta- Sadly when everyone is healthy it will be bye bye Kaletta and Peters will sit sooner rather than later. For now they can go and bang around and McArthur can have some of the pressure and expectations off of him. -- Chris De from Buffalo, NY
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