April 4, 2007
By Glenn Odebralski
Both Tim Connolly and Maxim Afinogenov skated with the team at practice today in HSBC Arena.
And while Afinogenov could be the first of the two to return to the Sabres lineup - as early as tomorrow's game against Boston - Connolly could also suit up before the end of the regular season. Audio: Lindy Ruff | Tim Connolly
"He's made his decision," said head coach Lindy Ruff about Connolly. "He thinks that he can play. I think the decision now is, do we have him at a good enough level?"
Even though the Buffalo Sabres wrapped up the top seed in the Eastern Conference with three games left in the season, the two won't return to the lineup unless they are absolutely ready to play.
"My ultimate focus, still, is to having the team ready to play in the playoffs," said Ruff. "If we feel that getting Tim in, and getting Max in, is going to be effective and help our team, then it would be to our advantage to get them in."
"If you're taking another good player out of the lineup to maybe put a role guy in or special teams guy, whether that is going to be effective enough for the team. So that all weighs into it."
Missing the whole season due to post-concussion symptoms, Connolly knows that he won't dress if he isn't up to par.
"I think that I won't be in there unless I can contribute to the team," said Connolly. "Whether it's a limited role. Whether it's penalty killing, power play, or just playing a regular shift or playing a fourth line role.
"Obviously I think I can help out in some of those areas. We'll have to see what happens."
One thing's for sure. There will be a lot of meetings over the next few days between the coaching staff as to the pair's return to the lineup.