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NOTEBOOK: MANCARI, INJURIES AND THE BUFFALO BILLS

by Erin Pollina / Buffalo Sabres
Mark Mancari (Photo: Bill Wippert)
If there were a bright spot for the Buffalo Sabres this weekend, it would have to be Mark Mancari.


In his second career call-up with the team, the winger tallied his first NHL goal and recorded 12 shots – including seven to lead the team against the Islanders on Saturday.

Mancari is developing a knack for making good first impressions.

Last season he broke an AHL record when he slammed a 102.8 mph slap shot in the skills competition of his first All-Star game.

This year he became an instant favorite in Portland, recording a five-point performance in the Pirates’ home-opener. So far, the trend has continued this year in his first stint with the Sabres since the 2006-07 campaign.

Mancari’s goal ended the Sabres’ 126:22-minute scoring drought: Until he lit the lamp Saturday night, the Sabres had not scored since Nov. 19 when Thomas Vanek registered a power play goal midway through the first period of a 7-4 loss to the Bruins.

“Mark has come in and played well,” Head Coach Lindy Ruff said of the 6-foot-3 forward. “You’re always going to get instant pop out of a player you bring up. There is the exciting of getting up, there is the excitement of playing."

“He uses his size but he gets [to the net]. He gets inside the D and he gets to the goaltender. That’s more about how goals are going to be scored.”

“That’s my number one goal is to stay here and do the best I can to help the team,” Mancari said. “I want to contribute where I can, but at the same time you want to win games. Hopefully I can put some more in the net and help the team win.”

Mancari (23 years old, 6’3”, 225 lbs.) is currently third in the AHL in scoring with 25 points (11+14) in 14 games.

Mancari was Buffalo’s seventh-round choice (207th overall) in the 2004 Entry Draft.



Ruff confirmed today that Tim Connolly’s musculoskeletal injury is in fact a broken rib.

The Buffalo News broke the story Sunday after Connolly revealed the information in an interview.

The centerman has missed the last four games after taking a punishing hit Nov. 12 from St. Louis’ Keith Tkachuk.

“It’s an injury that I didn’t want to talk about because I think it’s something that can be targeted, and that’s the only reason,” Ruff said. “When we have groins and knees and stuff like that I said I didn’t want to go there just for the fact that if he does come back it’s an area that maybe somebody could try to expose.”

Connolly is listed as week-to-week.

In other injury news, Ales Kotalik skated for the first time since suffering a pulled hamstring Nov. 14. The winger tried to jump over a Columbus forward and landed awkwardly on his leg late in the third period.

“He is progressing,” Ruff said. “He hasn’t practiced at all, but encouraging is the fact that he’s back on the ice.”


QUOTABLE:

"The Bills did their part to get the curse away from the city so now we have to do our part on Wednesday night,” Ruff said of Buffalo’s 54-31 victory against the Kansas City Chiefs.  “We put a lot into the last two games to get nothing for it… You can dominate periods and get nothing for them but in the end you can’t let the frustration get to you. You just have to stay with it. You have to grind even harder.
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