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by Kevin Snow / Buffalo Sabres

An optimistic Ryan Miller said today that he plans to skate as the third goalie at Tuesday’s morning skate, and is targeting Wednesday as his first full practice since being injured in a collision with Milan Lucic on November 12. Miller skated lightly and stopped a few pucks prior to today’s practice. Afterwards he spoke to the media and said he’s encouraged by the progress he’s made.

“I feel good. Symptom wise I think it was more neck; something where I aggravated a disc in my neck pretty good. I had an MRI and CAT scan that backed that up. That’s a source of a lot of the tension and discomfort, and it definitely was limiting my range of motion.”

Miller now isn’t sure if he suffered a concussion in the hit with Lucic, but he was definitely concerned about experiencing concussion-like symptoms.

“I don’t know for certain what it was. I took a good impact and it definitely felt that way. But I also had the symptoms in my neck, and that was proven through some tests and I had to wait to let that settle down to a place where I can get back on the ice. It’s been good for a few days now, and now I have to get through some intense workouts.”

For the first time in several days, Lindy Ruff didn’t have to stand in front of the media and announce another injury. Instead, Ruff spent most of today’s post-practice briefing at First Niagara Center talking about the progress that some of his injured players are making.

“We had a pretty good day when it came to just treatments yesterday and some guys are feeling better,” Ruff explained. “We had some guys on the bike, and today that progressed. Everything is looking better.”

Ruff said that Patrick Kaleta, Drew Stafford and Robyn Regehr “could be available” for tomorrow’s home game against the New York Islanders. Kaleta seems to be the most questionable of the three, as he’s missed the last three games and only practiced once in the past week. The only time Regehr and Stafford have missed was Saturday’s game against Washington.

All three players took part in full-contact roles today’s practice. Stafford was on a line with Luke Adam and Ville Leino, while Kaleta skated with Matt Ellis and Paul Gaustad. Regehr was paired with Jordan Leopold on defense.
Zack Kassian and Brayden McNabb both remain with the big club. Kassian was on a line with Derek Roy and Nathan Gerbe, and McNabb was paired with Andrej Sekera.

Corey Tropp, TJ Brennan and Paul Szczechura were all reassigned to Rochester prior to today’s practice.

Tyler Ennis skated in today’s practice, but has ruled himself out for Tuesday’s game. There’s a possibility he could be ready for the weekend.

“I’m getting pretty close, today felt like my best day on the ankle,” Ennis said. “I still have to do some things. I’ve gotta get some down low play in and work on it a little bit, get some guys leaning on (my ankle). But for the most part it feels good.”

With the two head coach firings today in Washington and Carolina, there have now been 166 coaching changes in the NHL since Ruff was named Buffalo’s head coach on July 21, 1997.

Sabres prospects Mark Pysyk and Jerome Gauthier-Leduc were among the 41 players invited to Canada’s 2012 National Junior Team Selection Camp. Pysyk, Buffalo’s first-round pick (23rd overall) in 2010 has one goal and 11 assists in 20 games with the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings. Gauthier-Leduc is second among all Canadian Hockey League defensemen in scoring, and is 13th in the QMJHL league scoring race with 37 points (13+24) in 26 game with the Rimouski Oceanic. He was also drafted in 2010 – 68th overall in the third round.

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