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by Kevin Snow / Buffalo Sabres

KANATA, ONT. – It appears that the upper body injury to Sabres forward Thomas Vanek isn’t as serious as initially thought.

Speaking after practice today at the Bell Sensplex facility, head coach Lindy Ruff said Vanek is questionable for tomorrow’s game against Ottawa, following a solid check by Boston’s Johnny Boychuk just inside the Sabres blueline with 10 minutes left in Thursday’s game.

“Thomas is okay, just a little bit sore. He’s doing okay,” said Ruff.

When asked if Vanek would be able to play on Saturday, Ruff said: “I can’t answer that question right now. I guess it will all depend on how he’s feeling tomorrow.”


In other player news, Andrej Sekera’s condition has actually worsened and he’s staying in Buffalo for further tests. Ruff said they are trying determine if Sekera has a severe case of the flu or something more than that.

Patrick Kaleta was given a maintenance day to rest because Ruff said he’s been nagged by his recurring neck issues lately. He’s not expected to miss Saturday’s game.

Newcomer Cody Hodgson found himself promoted to the top line today, part of a series of changes that Ruff made to the forward combinations at Friday’s practice. Hodgson will skate between Ville Leino and Jason Pominville, while Tyler Ennis is back at center with Drew Stafford and Brad Boyes. The changes have also moved Derek Roy to center on a line with wingers Nathan Gerbe and Corey Tropp.

According to Ruff, the new trios weren’t simply the product of Vanek’s absence.

“I felt it was time. I think that Ennis played some of his best hockey in the middle," said Ruff. "We weren’t getting enough production. There were some good games from that line, but the production wasn’t there. It’s just time for a change. We know that we’re gonna have to do most of our damage on the road, so we’ve got to improve our road scoring.”

The Sabres have averaged just two goals for in their last six road games, and they are last in the NHL with 62 goals scored in 33 road games this season (1.88/game). On the flip side, Buffalo’s 99 goals for in 35 home games are good for 14th in the league.

With Vanek and Kaleta not on the ice today, Matt Ellis and Cody McCormick were only able to skate as two-thirds of a line. McCormick is ready to get back at it after missing the last 14 games with his second concussion of the season. Other than trying to improve his cardio, McCormick doesn’t have any lingering effects and is confident he can continue playing his physical style.

“I don’t think you can be tentative in this game. Yeah, I have had two concussions. It could’ve been just a fluke; I could’ve gotten through the season without one. But if I have that in the back of my head, I don’t think I’ll be playing my game. To play my game, I’ve gotta be feisty and get in the hard areas. So that’s definitely not something I want to have on my shoulders.”

The Sabres announced late Friday afternoon that forward Marcus Foligno has been recalled on an emergency basis from Rochester. This is Foligno's third emergency recall in the past eight days, including games in Vancouver (Mar. 3) and Winnipeg (Mar. 5).

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