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by Erin Pollina / Buffalo Sabres
Tim Connolly (Photo: Getty Images)
The Buffalo Sabres were missing some key personnel during Tuesday’s practice at HSBC Arena with Tim Connolly, Clarke MacArthur and Craig Rivet absent from the skate.

Head Coach Lindy Ruff would not disclose their injuries, but said he expects at least Rivet to be in the lineup Wednesday night in Toronto.

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  Jason Pominville: Audio | Video
  Lindy Ruff: Audio | Video
  Thomas Vanek: Audio | Video
  Lindy Ruff Interview Transcribed

“They are all banged up to different degrees. Some are being looked at by the doctor and we’ll have updates tomorrow whether they will be available.”

Ruff briefly alluded to Connolly’s ailment following Monday’s 4-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. The centerman did not take any faceoffs during the game, leaving MacArthur and Jason Pominville to step in down the middle.

“He had a little bit of an issue where we had to stick somebody else in to take draws,” was all Ruff would say of Connolly in his post-game comments.

With the wingers taking the faceoffs, Ruff said there was a shift in strategy while facing Detroit. In short, there were times he told his wingers to intentionally play the puck as if they were going to lose the draw to get a jump and create some pressure on the Red Wings.

“That’s the stat you don’t see,” Ruff said. “We’re keeping our own stats during the game and we know who has been beating who. We know that if Datsyuk has gone 3-0, or 4-0… then you might as well play to lose.

“If you go in the rotation and play to win and try to set up offensively, you get no pressure. If the odds are you’re going to lose it, you can create all types of pressure. You can get inside their defenseman and be on the forecheck right away. You might as well play the odds.”

Ruff said he has been working with Pominville recently to develop techniques for faceoffs and was pleased with his progress, winning 43 percent of draws in the game (3-for-7).
“I thought Pommer, on a couple, did a nice job even in his own end,” Ruff said. “It puts a guy in a different situation, but it’s something that you have to adapt to.”

Pat Kaleta skated with the team in a non-contact basis and is questionable for Wednesday. The winger is out with a head/neck injury.

The lines at Tuesday’s practice were as follows:

Drew StaffordDerek RoyJochen Hecht
Thomas Vanek – Dominic Moore – Jason Pominville
Dan Paille – Adam Mair – Paul Gaustad
Andrew Peters – Matt Ellis – Maxim Afinogenov

“It was quiet in there last night, walking in there after the game. It was quiet. My job today was to try and pick them up, just try and pick them up. We’ve got to create the hope, and hope that we get some good help around us and go and win a game tomorrow night.”

~Lindy Ruff
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