While Lindy Ruff might be playing coy, it seems that Nathan Gerbe
will make his playoff debut tonight in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
The winger practiced alongside Adam Mair and Cody McCormick
during the team’s morning skate. Perhaps more importantly, he also spent time with Buffalo’s second power play unit in the on-ice session.
Ruff was slow to admit that Gerbe will indeed be in the lineup to help the Sabres take on the Bruins. However, with Raffi Torres practicing alongside the injured Thomas Vanek
[lower body] and Matt Ellis
[soreness], it’s likely that he is the odd-man out in favor of Gerbe - who he hopes can spark a struggling power play.
“There are guys I’m unhappier with but they have to come through for me,” Ruff said regarding Torres. “You hoped he would have put away a couple of the opportunities he’s had, but not unhappy [with his play], No.”
Gerbe has played 20 career NHL games for the Sabres, scoring two goals and six points in that span. He has yet, however, to play in the post-season.
“Everyone in the locker room has played critical games in their careers at some level,” Gerbe argued. “I’ve played in the National Championship, World Juniors; those are critical games at that stage… you just have to be ready for it.
“I’m pretty fortunate to get a chance here and I’m looking to make the best of it.”
The remaining lines at practice were as follows:Tyler Ennis
– Derek Roy
– Jason Pominville
Paul Gaustad – Tim Connolly – Mike GrierDrew Stafford
– Tim Kennedy – Patrick Kaleta
While Vanek participated in the skate, it is doubtful the he will return tonight. The winger hasn't played since suffering an injury in Game 2, following a hit from John Boychuck that caused him to slam into the end boards.
“If he felt that he could play and be effective, he’d be in the lineup,” Ruff said. “We have one game to stay alive and with a conversation with him, I didn’t think he was at that point.
“It’s getting closer, but yesterday was a pretty sore day for him.”