|Craig Rivet (Photo: Getty Images) |
The Buffalo Sabres have successfully overcome injuries to some key forwards with Tim Connolly (back), Jochen Hecht
(finger) and Paul Gaustad (thumb) out of the lineup.
But now the team must also deal with an ailment on the blueline as Craig Rivet underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee today and is expected to be out a minimum of two weeks.
“We knew it was coming,” Head Coach Lindy Ruff said “He’s been playing on a pretty sore knee that hasn’t been settling down and decided to get [the surgery] done.
“He’s been hobbling pretty good. I thought in the Vancouver game it was really noticeable. He got through that game and it felt a little bit better… but it was something that needed to be done because it wasn’t going to go away.”
Filling in for the injured Sabres’ captain is Nathan Paetsch, who will pair up with veteran Teppo Numminen.
The move restores Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman back to a tandem, leaving Andrej Sekera
and Jaroslav Spacek intact as the remaining defensive duo.
“We’ve had some adversity to deal with. We’ll deal with a key member of the defense missing,” Ruff said. “It’s an opportunity for Nathan to step in and get some quality playing time… We’re going to miss [Rivet] but at the same time, his absence is going to give someone an opportunity.”
Paetsch finished with nine points (2+7) and a plus-three rating in his sophomore season with the Sabres through 59 games last year.
Thursday’s match-up against the Minnesota Wild will be first game for Paetsch in the regular season this year.
“It’s not a situation that I’m not familiar with,” Paetsch said. “I’ve been a pro for six years now and I’ve gone through this… It’s always been my job to stay prepared and I’ve done the best I could and I feel good to go.”
"We just want him to play solid defensively first," Ruff said. "I think it starts there… We know that he can get up ice and be an offensive weapon for us. We know that he’s got good character, he’s stepped in there and scrapped with some pretty tough guys and that’s what we liked about him. He can be a lot of both but it’s going to start in his own end by him playing good hockey for us."
Although he has only played with Numminen in a few exhibition games, Paetsch looks forward to pairing up with the experienced blueliner.
“It’s so easy playing with him. He gets the puck, he moves it, it hits somebody and it’s out,” Paetsch said. “It’s obviously a really comforting thing for me to come back in the lineup playing with him.
"They have been playing great and I want to be able to step in and continue that success."
Ruff said there is no plan, as of now, to bring up a seventh defenseman from Portland. The team will utilize three alternate captains, rather than naming a new one, until Rivet returns to the lineup.
Rivet has three points (0+3) in six games with the Sabres this season, after being acquired in a trade from San Jose on July 4. The 34-year-old Rivet was named the 23rd captain in franchise history on October 8.