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Champing at the Bit

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
Maxim Afinogenov is champing at the bit. The Sabres' dynamic right-winger has been sidelined for the past five games and hopes he will be back before playoffs begin on April 11.

No updated timeline has been given for Afinogenov's return, but at the time of the injury, a tentative six-week window was provided by head coach Lindy Ruff.

"It's getting better and hopefully it's going to heal quickly," said Afinogenov, who was Buffalo's second-leading scorer when he suffered the injury. "I want to come back as soon as possible."

Afinogenov broke his wrist the shift before scoring his career high 23rd goal of the season in Buffalo's 2-1 overtime victory against Edmonton on Feb. 15.

Afinogenov has been restricted to lower-body workings since that game.

"I don't want to jump right in. I'd rather play a couple of games in before the playoffs."
Goaltender Ryan Miller thinks that Brian Campbell needs to find a creative outlet for his enthusiasm. With his long-time jousting partner, Martin Biron, absent from the Sabres locker room, the All-Star defenseman has leveled his sights squarely on Miller.

"The first thing Brian Campbell did was start verbally abusing me a little more," said Miller of the known goalie agitator. "I'm getting pucks shot at my feet. I'm getting lipped. He's talking about my hair. It was a day after Marty was traded and I was like, 'man, Soupy needs to find some other ways to vent.'

"I'm not going to take the brunt of it."

Like Campbell, Miller is trying to get used to life without his blissful, goaltending partner. Besides the decrease in chatter from his corner of the locker room, the goaltender from East Lansing, Mich. now has to cope with top-dog status for the first time in his NHL career. Buffalo showed their confidence in Miller by trading away the goaltender they drafted 16th overall in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft to the Flyers for a second-round pick.

"To be kind of given the reigns here, it feels good," said Miller. "I felt like especially on trade day, it was important for me to step up and show the guys that I was ready to go."

Miller recorded his 30th win of the season in Toronto on Tuesday, stopping 27-of-28 shots.
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 being recalled from Rochester.

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