Lydman, who played a key role in the Sabres early season success, participated in his second full-contact practice on Tuesday since sustaining a groin injury during Buffalo's 3-2 loss to New Jersey on October 28.
"He'd been playing very well for us," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff of the Lahti, Finland native's pre-injury performance. "From the special teams sense, he's a guy we were counting pretty heavily on for one of the power play and one of the penalty kill units."
In the four games Lydman has missed, the team holds a record of 1-3 and has allowed an average of 5.0 goals a game. Compare that to the Sabres' 6-4 record and 3.11 goals against average with Lydman in the lineup.
"It's been hard watching from the outside and not being able to help the team," said Sabres leader in average ice time at 21:27 minutes per game. "We started out good, lost a couple of games but we're still have a .500 record. It's a good time in the season to learn a lesson and get better."
Lydman had a "good day of practicing" on Tuesday according to Ruff, with his return hinging the amount of soreness in his groin and the trainer's post-practice assessment.
In 10 games this season, Lydman has scored a goal and added four assists for five points, while recording eight penalty minutes and an even plus/minus rating.
"Hopefully, I'll be back out there soon," said Lydman. ------------------------------
While Lydman is preparing to return to action, Dmitri Kalinin is attempting to regroup. Considered the Sabres top defenseman by the coaching staff, Kalinin's play this season has been timid.
"He's nowhere near where I want him," said Ruff, who described Kalinin's performance this season as frustrating. "There are too many plays that aren't happening, and too many plays that I consider to be must-make plays that he doesn't make. I need him to play a lot better."
Kalinin finished the 2003-04 season playing well, setting career-highs in assists (24), goals (10) and points (34). His 10 goals led all Sabres defensemen for the second-consecutive season.
"I think it's mental," said Ruff. "He came out of camp extremely frustrated because things didn't go his way and he hasn't gotten over that yet. There were little glimpses of him being better in the last few games, but during parts of the Montreal game, he took a step back again."
"Lately, it just seems like I do everything wrong," said Kalinin following practice on Tuesday. "I may just be trying to do too much out there and I need to keep things simple. That's probably the biggest problem I have."
Kalinin is facing the issue head-on, taking full responsibility when asked if there was anything the coaching staff could do to help.
"I just have to work harder on my game and try to stay positive," said Kalinin. "I just need to get back to where I was before.
"I'm looking forward to our next game to see how things go." ------------------------------
If Lydman cannot play and with Jay McKee out of Wednesday's lineup with a severe bone bruise on his foot, Jeff Jillson will most likely be recalled from the Rochester Americans. The Sabres have an available roster spot after Jillson was reassigned to the Amerks on Sunday. ------------------------------
November is one of the most affordable months to watch Sabres hockey. With three Value games in the second month of 2005-06 season, fans can take advantage of the lowest individual ticket prices in recent Sabres history. Lower bowl seating starts at just $29 per ticket, while upper bowl starts at $17 for Wednesday's game against Carolina. The other value games during the month are on November 15 against New Jersey and November 17 against the Capitals. Purchase Tickets ------------------------------
Miss Buffalo, Jean Lester has been scheduled to perform Wednesday night's National Anthems. Lester is a 20-year-old sophomore seeking a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in vocal performance at the Carnegie Mellon University College of Music. ------------------------------
Wednesday's contest against Carolina is one of six games that will not be televised on the MSG Network. The game will also not be broadcast on the NHL Center Ice Package. Fans can listen to Rick Jeanneret and Jim Lorentz call all the action by tuning to WGR 550-AM or online at Sabres.com. Click here for full broadcast schedule