Lindy Ruff delivered some good news Monday afternoon.
The Sabres Head Coach reported that, pending some tests, Pat Kaleta may be able to rejoin the team for Tuesday’s practice and could be available for Wednesday’s game in Atlanta.
“He was clear all day yesterday and rode a bike today,” Ruff said. “We’ll just wait and see.”
Kaleta suffered an upper body injury Saturday night during the first period of Buffalo’s 4-3 shootout win in Montreal. Canadiens’ center Maxim Lapierre hit Kaleta from behind, causing the winger to hit his head on the boards.
Lapierre earned a two-minute boarding penalty, but Kaleta’s teammates believe more should be done.
“I think it was dirty,” Craig Rivet said. “I know Lapierre is a hard-working guy, but he’s also border line on the dirty side, on the cheap side. That’s the way he plays. Everybody has seen the hit, they have to address it and that’s the bottom line.
“He saw Patty Kaleta’s numbers and he still took strides and he still hit him. If there’s nothing done and there’s no suspension, then it’s all for nothing.”
Ruff said the League did review the hit, but will not issue a suspension to Lapierre.
“It’s not going to be dealt with,” he said. “They looked at it. That’s all we’re getting.
“I didn’t like it… I thought their player just showed a lack of respect for our player. It wasn’t that Pat ever faced him or ever turned away. He was looking to protect the puck and make a play to our centerman coming up ice. Their player needed to show a little bit of caution.”
Kaleta has missed 24 games this season with head/neck injuries. He was out for seven games in early December when he took a hard hit from Canadiens’ forward Andrei Kostitsyn. The injury flared up again Dec. 19 when Kaleta was struck by Los Angeles’ defenseman Denis Gauthier.
“He’s a hard-working player. He’s probably our hardest working player that we have each and every night,” Rivet said of Kaleta. “He has a difficult job, he plays a physical style. He’s a hard-hitting, grinding-type player that you’re going to definitely need down the stretch.
“Hopefully, we’re not going to miss him.”
may have to sit Wednesday’s game out.
Ruff said the defenseman may be scratched in favor of veteran Teppo Numminen due to some poor performances down the stretch.
“It hasn’t been a one-game struggle, or a two-game…it’s been a good period of time,” Ruff said. “We’ve tried to play him through it, but it seems to be getting a little bit worse than better.”
If Numminen is in, he will likely be paired with Jaroslav Spacek; a tandem that Ruff believes was effective in January when Sekera was out with an ankle sprain.
Ruff also believes sitting out a game may give the young blueliner some perspective.
“Andrej has had a tough stretch,” Ruff said. “Admittedly he said he’s never gone through something like this where everything he does goes wrong... This is a tough time of year, there’s a lot of pressure. He hasn’t been in a lot of these situations, he has to learn from them and it will help him grow."
“We’ve got a tough stretch. Today was a good practice. We wanted it real up-tempo but relatively short… Tomorrow will basically be our last full practice. The other practices will probably be optionals, there will be guys that we tell to stay off the ice. It’s nothing but rest and be ready to go to work.”