MONTREAL -- You don’t have to be a hockey genius to know that Christian Ehrhoff is the owner of a howitzer for a slapshot. Just ask Toronto goalie James Reimer, who still hasn’t seen the point bomb that Ehrhoff unleashed for a third-period goal in Thursday’s 5-4 shootout victory. Need more proof? I’m sure Thomas Vanek will have something to say about it.
Vanek got caught in the crosshairs of an Ehrhoff blast during the second period of Tuesday’s win in Montreal, a shot to the hip that sent him to the bench in extreme discomfort. Vanek could barely sit down, and was eventually escorted to the dressing room by the trainer. After not practicing on Wednesday and being held out of last night’s game, Vanek was back on the ice today at First Niagara Center.
“It’s one of those where I got hit on the bone and it froze me two days; I couldn’t move, couldn’t do anything,” he told reporters after Friday’s practice. “Late last night it felt a little better. This morning I woke up and had most of my motion back. I felt pretty good skating.”
Barring any setbacks, Vanek expects to be back in the lineup for Buffalo’s return match with the Canadiens on Saturday at the Bell Centre.
“I would assume so, unless I have a setback tonight. As of right now I feel good.”
Defenseman Andrej Sekera missed his third straight game on Thursday recovering from an upper body injury suffered last Saturday against Ottawa. Sekera has been skating all week, but is limited in his contact, especially when it comes to battle drills. Interim head coach Ron Rolston said Sekera continues to improve, and is targeting a return by mid-week when the Sabres play in Tampa Bay (Tuesday) and Florida (Thursday).
Rookie Mark Pysyk was recalled from Rochester on Sunday to replace Sekera, and the steady blueliner hasn’t looked out of place considering he’s a fresh-faced 21-year-old still in his first professional season.
In three games with the big club, Pysyk has averaged almost 16 minutes per night, and has also recorded three shots on goal and three blocked shots. Already having played two consecutive games prior to his recall, Saturday would be Pysyk’s sixth game in nine days.