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by Brian Wheeler / Buffalo Sabres
Defenseman Jaroslav Spacek
The Buffalo Sabres may soon regain the services of one of the team's most productive players this season.

Jaroslav Spacek returned to practice on a limited basis Monday for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury seven days ago.   However, his status for Wednesday's rematch of the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals in Carolina is still unknown.

Video: Lindy Ruff Interview
Video: Jaroslav Spacek Interview

"He's doing a lot better," said Ruff.  "[His playing status] will depend whether we can get him in full contact or not.  Today was still a non-contact type of day."

Spacek was injured in the waining moments of the Sabres 5-4 overtime victory over the Maple Leafs on Oct. 15 when he was driven into the boards by Toronto's Nik Antropov.

The five-foot-11, 204-pound blueliner was absent from the Sabres last two contests: a 3-0 shutout defeat to Columbus on Oct. 19 and a 4-2 loss in Montreal the next day.

Spacek and defensive partner Brian Campbell where Buffalo's best one-two punch through the opening five games of the season, combining for five goals and 11 assists.

While Campbell led the Sabres with nine helpers and 10 points, Spacek was the team's top sniper with four goals, three of which coming on the power play.

Spacek said Monday that there was still some bruising present in his shoulder.  He wants to return to the lineup as soon as possible, but would like to be able to comeback in his early season form.

"They asked me about Wednesday, but I haven't had any contact yet," said Spacek.  "We just have to wait and do some more stuff one-on-one.

"We'll see how it goes tomorrow or Wednesday."

Spacek's return could provide a lift on special teams, which managed just one goal on 11 power-play opportunities during his absence.

Rookie Andrej Sekera has been filling the void on the blueline, recording a minus-one rating and four penalty minutes in the third and fourth games of his NHL career.

Ruff said that he felt Sekera "held his own" during those contests.

"For playing in a couple of games that were pretty intense at times, I thought he did a good job," said Ruff.  "He's got things to learn, but he's got great ability and great mobility. 

"For stepping in and playing the amount that he did... he handled it well."
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