It was less than a week ago that Head Coach Lindy Ruff was fielding questions about an abundance of blueliners.
In just five short days that problem has been reversed for the Buffalo Sabres, as they will likely be without two of their top defensemen – including veteran Teppo Numminen.
Numminen suffered a facial injury early in the second period of Buffalo’s 3-1 win against the Hurricanes on Saturday night at HSBC Arena when a shot from the point clipped his left cheek.
He returned minutes later and finished the remainder of the frame, but was absent for the entire third period.
“He’s going to miss some time,” Head Coach Lindy Ruff said in his post-game comments. “We’ll find out exactly how much tomorrow.”
Numminen is the second defenseman to fall victim to injury. Ruff announced earlier today that Andrej Sekera
[ankle] will miss at least two weeks
after taking a hit from Chicago’s Dustin Byfuglien on Jan. 14.
The ailments leave the Sabres with six defensemen as they begin a six-game stint on the road. Ruff said Nathan Paetsch will return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the last 13 games.
Tim Connolly’s two scores mark the centermen’s first multi-goal game since April 8, 2006 when he had a three-point (2+1) performance against the Ottawa Senators.
“It’s funny,” Connolly said. “My dad told me to go out there and score a goal. We really don’t talk about goal scoring too much but he said my grandparents wanted me to score. I got one for each of them tonight.”
Head Equipment Manager Ed ‘Rip’ Simonick was recognized in a pre-game ceremony at HSBC Arena – including a standing ovation - for working his 3,000th game Jan. 15 in Dallas.
Simonick has been part of the organization since the team’s inception in 1970, making him the longest-tenured equipment manager in the NHL.
“Usually we don’t get a lot of cheers… but it was pretty neat,” Simonick said. “The Sabres organization has been great to me. I love working here and I have great people to work with.
“A strange question before the game was from Jason Pominville
. He asked me how many pots of coffee I made [over the years]. I said when I started, they didn’t have coffee pots. We used to buy cups from a restaurant… times change and I’m just happy that I can still contribute.”
The Sabres also awarded Fred Korey with the 2009 J. Michael Duffett Memorial Award during the first period.
The award honors a Western New York coach who “best exemplifies the knowledge, teaching, love of the game and gentle humanity of Mike.”
Korey, along with former Sabres’ netminder Dominik Hasek, began Hasek’s Heroes - a Buffalo-based youth hockey league that allows “low to moderate income families the opportunity to learn basic skating and hockey skills.” Hasek’s Heroes has had more than 2,000 participants since it was founded in 2001.
The game marks the last time the Sabres will play at HSBC Arena in the month of January. The next home game is not until Feb. 4 when Buffalo hosts the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Sabres play in Florida and Tampa Bay next week before heading on a four-game West Coast trip.