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by Kevin Snow / Buffalo Sabres

It was back to work today for most of the Buffalo Sabres, as they gathered at the First Niagara Center for a late afternoon practice before boarding the team charter for the quick flight to La Belle Province. Both Jason Pominville and Luke Adam were given a head start on the trip, meeting up with their teammates in Montreal after participating in this weekend’s All-Star Game activities in Ottawa.

Head coach Lindy Ruff said that, barring any last-minute setbacks, he expects Tyler Ennis to be back in the lineup on Tuesday. Ennis has missed the last 17 games with a high ankle sprain, the same injury that kept him off the ice for an additional 17 games earlier this season. Ruff also said that Paul Gaustad is a possibility for tomorrow, after missing the past three games with an upper body injury after being hit by Jamal Mayers in Chicago on January 18.

Brayden McNabb practiced with the team today for the first time since suffering a concussion against Toronto on January 13. The 21-year-old defenseman has passed all his baseline tests, and now just needs to ramp up his conditioning before getting back into a game.

Jochen Hecht continues to experience post-concussion symptoms as a result of a hit from St. Louis’ TJ Oshie on January 21. Hecht practiced with the Sabres, and even took the morning skate in New Jersey last Tuesday. But his symptoms escalated in a hurry during the skate, and Hecht was pulled from the lineup for that game. Ruff doesn’t expect Hecht back in the immediate future, saying it’s “probably going to be a good period of time.” 

With the All-Star break now in their rear-view mirror, the Sabres have to focus on the final 33 games of the season as they look to make a push for the playoffs. They will play 16 of these games at home, and 17 on the road – including tomorrow’s 7:30 p.m. tilt against Montreal at the Bell Centre.

March is the team’s busiest month with 16 games in 31 days. They open with eight games in the first 14 days, and finish up with eight in the final 17. Also included at the beginning of March are the final three games of the team’s four-stop Western trip that begins February 29 in Anaheim. The Sabres will also play three games in three different time zones over a five-day stretch starting March 3 (at Vancouver), and continuing March 5 (at Winnipeg) and March 7 (vs. Carolina).

Here are some other facts about Buffalo’s remaining 33 games:
  • 18 of the games are against teams currently in a playoff position
  • they will play eight sets of back-to-back games
  • the Sabres will face six Western Conference opponents
  • on five different occasions they will play three-games-in-four-days
  • the longest break between games is three days, and that will only happen twice (Feb. 5-7; Feb. 26-28)
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