The Buffalo Sabres collected four of six points with defenseman Tyler Myers
watching from the press box. Tomorrow night, he will return to the lineup when the Sabres host the Montreal Canadiens at 7 p.m. at First Niagara Center.
Myers was suspended three games for hitting Canadiens forward Scott Gomez into the boards from behind during the team’s last match-up on March 12. Myers was called for boarding on the play and Gomez has not played since. The suspension was the first of Myers' career.
If there is any retaliation coming from the Canadiens tomorrow, Myers told the media after this afternoon's team meeting that he’s not thinking about it.
“I’m going to approach tomorrow night like any other game. It’s in the past. I didn’t mean to hurt him,” Myers said. “That’s not my intention to go in looking to kill a guy, so whatever happens happens. I’m just going to go into that game and focus on getting two points.”
With Myers back, the Sabres have seven healthy defensemen ready to go. Christian Ehrhoff
, Jordan Leopold
, Robyn Regehr
, Andrej Sekera
, Alexander Sulzer
and Mike Weber
round out the back end and one will have to sit. Ruff said that he’d like to keep all seven playing so it’s likely that sixth spot will be rotated on a nightly basis.
“It’s a great situation for us to be in. We would’ve begged to have been this healthy three months ago,” said head coach Lindy Ruff. “For me, it’s tough, but the way the seven guys have played, we’re going to need them all.”
Goaltender Ryan Miller
was impressed by the defense’s play during Myers’ absence but he said that he’s excited to have the 6-foot-8 d-man back on the ice.
“I thought our D corps played really well but we do miss his skating ability, his range,” Miller said. “…Everybody looked like they were playing pretty well with their partner so it’s good to see that we’ve got guys able to step in and play. Tyler’s a key part of this team and we need him to be on the top of his game.”
Buffalo currently sits in ninth place in the East with 78 points, two behind eighth-place Washington. Winnipeg, currently in 10th place, can get themselves up to 78 points as well with a win tonight in Pittsburgh. Washington is off until Thursday when they play the Flyers in Philadelphia.
With three more games this week, the Sabres know it’s going to continue to be a tough battle to get into the playoffs.
“Obviously we need a little bit of help but we’re not worried about that,” said forward Drew Stafford
. “We’re worried about taking care of our own business here. We’re worried about winning our games and then whatever happens is out of our hands.”
The Sabres have nine games to go this season and two more sets of back-to-backs, including this weekend when they travel to play the Rangers on Friday and then come back to Buffalo to host the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. The next three games lead up to what could be a showdown with major playoff implications against Washington on March 27.
“For us, it’s just knowing that we have to take care of two points at a time,” Miller said. “We really just have to keep pace until we can play a team like Washington and hopefully get a swing.”
, Patrick Kaleta
, Derek Roy
and Myers were among the few players who took the ice.
Ruff updated the media on the conditions of Hecht and Nathan Gerbe
and Matt Ellis
. Ellis has been out since March 11 with a knee injury. Ruff said that while he’s doing a lot better, he still isn’t close to returning to the lineup.
The team had hoped Gerbe would be able to play during the Florida trip. He’s missed the last three games with an upper-body injury.
“He’s just not responding to treatment,” Ruff said. “He’s skated on his own but just can’t quite get over the hump.”
Hecht is still skating in a non-contact role.