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by Rob Crean / Buffalo Sabres
Defenseman Steve Montador will return to the lineup tonight when the Sabres host the St. Louis Blues at HSBC Arena.  Montador has missed the last five games with concussion symptoms and is eager to get back on the ice.

Steve Montador (Photo: Bill Wippert)
“We’ve certainly taken the patient route but it’s tough to watch hockey,” Montador said.  “I did it earlier in my career and I gained another perspective and appreciation for guys who have to sit and watch because you’re basically watching everyone else doing what you want to do.  It’s not easy, it’s a chance to learn a lot, but at the same time you really get the itch (to play) every game.”

Montador has recorded 15 points (4-11-15) in 51 games this season and had appeared in every game prior to his injury.  His return means St. Louis native Chris Butler will likely come back out of the lineup after filling in for the last five games.

“I thought Chris played well. It’s a good situation to be in where you can have a player step in and play well for you,” said Head Coach Lindy Ruff.

With Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak being placed on Injured Reserve yesterday, Buffalo may see former Sabre Ty Conklin in net.  Conklin, who joined the Sabres at the trade deadline in 2007 and spent the remainder of the 2006-07 campaign with the team, has a 6-1-0 lifetime record against Buffalo with a 1.70 goals against average and a .943 save percentage.

“It doesn’t matter what goaltender you play, you’ve got to create the quality chances and then, when that opportunity is on the right guy’s stick, he’s got to take advantage of it,” Ruff said.

2/18 - Lindy Ruff Pregame

The Sabres skated this morning for the first time since Wednesday’s game against Toronto because they were given the day off yesterday.  At this time of year, Ruff said it will be important to get enough rest.

“Right now, with the stretch we’re going through, it’s try to empty the tank in the games then get some rest in between.”

Near the end of this morning’s skate, Ruff gathered the team for a brief talk.  When he was finished, the coaches skated away but the players remained to continue the chat on their own.
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