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by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
Jason Pominville (Bill Wippert)
Jason Pominville exercised at HSBC Arena on Tuesday for the first time since suffering a concussion last Monday against Chicago when he was hit from behind by Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson.  Pominville met with the media following his workout and said his condition has improved over the past week. 

“I feel good, much better than I did the first few days,” Pominville said.  “I was able to work out today for the first time. I rode the bike, got the heart rate up a bit, so it feels good right now and hopefully will feel good for the rest of the day.” 

Pominville acknowledged that he did not see Hjalmarsson coming prior to the hit, which resulted in a five-minute boarding major, a game misconduct and a subsequent two-game suspension for Hjalmarsson.  However, Pominville’s focus is on getting healthy and returning to the lineup.

“The puck wasn’t there and I never saw him, so it’s tough for me to take note of it.  My back was turned. The League did what they thought was best by suspending him. There’s not much more I can say.  I just want to do the best I can to get back on the ice as quick as possible.”

After appearing in 335 consecutive games dating back to 2006, the 27-year-old Pominville has been out for the last three contests.  Neither Pominville nor Lindy Ruff have put a timetable on the forward’s return to the lineup.

“As long as the exercise goes well, he gets to progress,” Ruff said.

The Sabres went through a 50-minute practice at HSBC Arena on Tuesday.  Following the session, Ruff talked about trying to find the right line combinations.

We’re trying to find some chemistry on lines. I thought every line was in on the offense last game (in Chicago). We generated a lot, we didn’t give up very much. Sometimes when you put too much skill and not enough workers together, you don’t get much done. I think we’ve got a good blend right now with every line. - Head Coach Lindy Ruff
On Tuesday, those lines included Derek Roy centering Drew Stafford and Thomas Vanek; Tim Connolly skating with Jochen Hecht and Cody McCormick; Paul Gaustad between Nathan Gerbe and Patrick Kaleta; and Rob Niedermayer with Mike Grier and Tyler Ennis.

Defenseman Shaone Morrisonn, who has missed the last two games with a groin injury, skated before practice.  Ruff did not put a timetable on his return.

“We don’t have a timetable. Today was his first day skating on his own and he seemed to make out ok.”

Following Tuesday’s practice, the Sabres traveled south to Atlanta where they’ll meet the Thrashers Wednesday night in the first of four meetings between the teams this season.  Buffalo went 2-2-0 against Atlanta last season, but will be facing a new-look Thrashers squad.  During the off-season, they installed a pair of former Sabres players and coaches to lead the team. 

New General Manager Rick Dudley appeared in 279 games as a player with the Sabres over parts of six seasons from 1972-1981 and served as the team’s head coach from October of 1989 to December of 1991.  Craig Ramsay, who is in his first season as Atlanta’s head coach, recorded 252-420-672 in 1,070 games with Buffalo from 1971-1985 and holds the club records for most games played by a left wing and most career shorthanded goals (27).  He won the Selke Award as the NHL’s best defensive forward in 1984-85 and later served as an assistant coach with Buffalo.  He also spent time as interim head coach for the Sabres during the 1986-87 season.
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