|Adam Mair (Photo: Bill Wippert) |
Lindy Ruff knows that he will have to make a roster decision with Adam Mair [hip] and Toni Lydman [hand] nearing a return.
The Buffalo Sabres Head Coach said it just doesn’t have to be right now.
“I think it’s really up to the coach, when you feel that player is ready to play,” he said of Mair. “In our case Adam didn’t play a single preseason game. He has hit the six-week mark with treatment and everything else… now it’s getting enough practices in where we feel he will be ready in a game to make a difference.”
Mair has Injured Non-Roster status because he did not pass his preseason physical, due to an offseason hip surgery. Once Mair passes his physical, he is eligible to be added to the roster.
The problem for Ruff is that the addition of Mair would put Sabres over the League limit with 24 players.
Tim Kennedy has a two-way contract that would allow him to be sent back to the AHL Portland Pirates without clearing waivers. Tyler Myers
can also be sent back to the WHL and Kelowna Rockets.
The remaining 22 players would have to clear waivers to be sent down.
“It’s going to boil down to [the fact that] somebody is going to have to go,” Ruff said. “But at the same time, you look at one game and one injury and everything changes again. I’ve seen injuries around the League already are at a premium where Montreal has lost three, Carolina has lost Erik Cole. Tough decisions, but we know we’re going to need depth too.”
If Lydman is ready to play by Thursday - which Ruff indicated is a possibility - the Sabres would have eight defensemen on the roster.
Lydman said he injured his hand during the preseason when he was hit from behind. While he can participate in a full practice, the blueliner is still feeling some restrictions while shooting.
“No slapshots,” Lydman said. “just little wristers and they’re not very hard right now.”
For the time being, Ruff is taking the ‘wait and see’ approach.
“What we’re trying to do is take a good look at who played real well at camp. You saw Myers the other night played really well in the game. I thought Timmy [Kennedy] held his own and made some good plays - had a couple tough ones - but his enthusiasm and the way he skated were really good inside the game. The fair part of it is we’re going to get a look before we make any decisions.”
“It’s crazy. It’s not easy. You like to see the fact that you have young players step in and play as well as they have. At the same time I think it raises awareness with some players that ‘man, I’ve got to have my game going.’
“There are a lot of scenarios, but right now we don’t have to do anything. We’ll deal with Thursday and move on.”
In one of the Sabres’ tougher practices of the season so far, the players skated in two sessions at HSBC Arena, totaling 90 minutes on the ice.
To combat the gap of five days in between games, Ruff said he wants to keep the tempo high.
“Today’s practice was to try and get a little bit more of that hurt and game simulation and try to make players hurt. It’s probably the first hard skate we’ve done all through camp and our team has looked fresh and played hard,” Ruff said. “But when you play one game in nine days that’s my biggest complaint, is trying to ramp up that game intensity. You’ve got to deal with it. Hopefully with the way we’ve structured practices we will be fresh and ready for Thursday.”
Mike Grier only skated in the first session, experiencing some soreness in his leg. Ruff said the shortened practice for the forward was only a precaution.
Ruff also hinted that Patrick Lalime may be in the net for Buffalo as early as this weekend. The Sabres host Phoenix on Thursday and travel to Nashville to face the Predators on Saturday.
“It is about getting Patty some work,” Ruff said. “At the same time Millsey didn’t have a lot of work. We’ve toned down our practices to where he probably sees one-third of the rubber that he saw last year in a shot sense. In an action sense he’s seen more game-like simulation stuff.
“We’re going to weigh where we’re at by the weekend and Patty could go in.”