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by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
Ryan Miller (Getty Images)

While hockey fans hoped to get an early glance at some future Olympians at the Vancouver practice facility on Sunday afternoon, three soon-to-be participants took a day off for some much needed rest.

Ryan Miller [USA, Henrik Tallinder [SWE] and Jochen Hecht [GER] did not skate as the Sabres prepared for Monday night’s contest against the Canucks. Head Coach Lindy Ruff said it was simply a well-deserved maintenance day.

“We gave seven or eight guys the option of not going out and three of them took it,” he said. “They’ve been playing the bulk of the minutes so we gave them the opportunity to get a little more rest.”

Although Ruff typically has shied away from Olympic talk, preferring to keep the focus on his job in Buffalo first, even he acknowledged that being in the host city for the 2010 Olympic Games is building some excitement.

It goes without saying that the pressure has been mounting with it.

“Somebody said to me this morning, ‘only 34 million people are counting on you,” Ruff laughed. “I said ‘ do we have to start that already?’

“It’s a great opportunity for the players and a special opportunity for myself to be involved. I’m looking forward to it. It will be here before you know it. And I think it will be gone before you know it too. That’s the incredible part of it.”

The lines were the same on Sunday, with the exception of Matt Ellis skating alongside Tim Connolly and Jason Pominville in Hecht’s absence. Playing the final contest of the seven-game, 14-day road trip, Ruff hopes to end it on a high note.

“We knew it was going to be a tough trip, and it will still be a good trip if we win tomorrow. We’ve played a lot of good teams, teams that are on a roll,” Ruff said. “The work and the battle we put in the last game was probably our best on the trip; from a shot standpoint, from a chance standpoint, garnering play. We just didn’t win a game. I think execution in some of the situations is what we want to get better at.”
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