Time off between games has been a rarity for the Sabres during the second half of the season, so Head Coach Lindy Ruff made Wednesday’s practice optional following the road win over Montreal, which improved their record over the last 15 games to 9-3-3.
|Ryan Miller recorded his fourth shutout of the season in Tuesday's win over Montreal (Photo: Getty Images) |
“There’s players that want to go on the ice in optional skates, there’s players that maybe just want to get on the (stationary) bike,” Ruff explained. “Everybody knows their body, everybody reacts differently to days off. There’s players that don’t want to shut it down.”3/23 - Lindy Ruff Interview
While the optional skate afforded some players the opportunity to get rest during the grind of the hectic schedule, Mike Weber
said it gave him the chance to work on some individual skills.
“It’s more of like a skill day, a fun day,” he said of the light practice. “Just kind of worked on some shooting, some breakouts, get the feet moving, see how your body feels and get a little light workout in.”
Wednesday’s practice also allowed some of the players that are recovering from injuries to skate with teammates. Patrick Lalime worked with goaltending coach Jim Corsi, while Steve Montador and Jochen Hecht
While Montador said he felt “ready to go,” Hecht still has to go through another practice on Thursday before his status is determined as he rehabs an upper body injury. The forward has missed eight of the last 10 games.
“I feel good. It was the first hard skate I did out there. I’m looking forward to the full contact practice tomorrow and see how things go then,” Hecht said.
Ruff agreed that both players were progressing and said they would know more about their status for the weekend following Thursday’s practice.
has scored four goals in the last three games, including both of the goals in Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Montreal. Gerbe’s offensive production has picked up significantly in the second half of the season, and he credited his teammates for helping him gain confidence.
“As you play more games you get more confidence, but I think everyone on this team just seems to help out and talk a lot, especially a lot of the older guys,” Gerbe said. “Mike Grier and Paul Gaustad and Rob Niedermayer, all of them help me out. They all give me tips to work on defensively or things I can do offensively. I think the more time you spend here the more you grow and develop, but it also comes from the guys within who help out a lot.”