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by Erin Pollina / Buffalo Sabres
Jochen Hecht (Photo: Getty Images)
Jochen Hecht is set to return to the Sabres’ lineup Friday night as the team takes on the Atlanta Thrashers.

The forward just isn’t sure where.

Before undergoing surgery to repair a broken finger on Oct. 14, Hecht spent time both on the wing and up the middle.

With Clarke MacArthur filling in as a formidable replacement, in both positions, Hecht could not say which role he would be in upon his return.

“We have a lot of good centers and a lot of good wingers,” Hecht said. “It’s tough to find a spot.”
“We have a lot of options now,” Head Coach Lindy Ruff said. “I think with the hand the way it is, he may get some help at center and he may play a little bit of both. But I’m not concerned where he is.”

Ruff’s decision may be based on the status of Tim Connolly.

The centerman was absent from Wednesday’s practice with a sore groin.

"I think after playing a couple games and missing training camp, it would be expected that it would be a little sore after being in the heat of the battle," Ruff said.

Connolly missed the first 10 games of the regular season, and most of training camp with a hairline fracture in his vertebrae. He made his season debut on Nov. 1.

“I can understand how you can get sore,” Ruff said. “He’s played hard for two games. The part that hurts him is that he’s missed a good part of the schedule and all of training camp. That will always creep into your game and we will try to get him through this.”

Ruff said he did not think it would affect Friday’s lineup, “but obviously you never know.

“We’ve got a situation here where we’ll give him an extra day and see how it goes.”

Connolly centered MacArthur and Jason Pominville in the Sabres’ previous two contests. Hecht practiced with the pair Wednesday morning.

If Connolly does stay in the lineup, it presents a difficult decision for Ruff as the Sabres would have 24 players on the active roster (15 forwards, seven defenseman, two goaltenders). NHL rosters can have a maximum of 23 active players.

"It's not over yet," Ruff said. "We've got until Friday."
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