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by Brian Wheeler / Buffalo Sabres
Nathan Paetsch says he's fine but Lindy Ruff isn't so sure.  The Sabres head coach is concerned for his sophomore defenseman after a major collision on Monday night.

Ryan Miller: Audio
Nathan Paetsch: Audio
Jason Pominville: Audio
Lindy Ruff: Audio
Henrik Tallinder: Audio
Mike Weber: Audio


"Nathan is pretty banged up and may not be able to go," said Ruff. "He's got kind of whiplash from hitting the boards."

Paetsch was sent flying into the boards by agitator Sean Avery in Buffalo's 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Monday night.  The play directly led to New York's second goal of the contest, as they took advantage of Paetsch lying prone on the ice.

After the game, Ruff said he believed the hit was legal but would have like to seen the play whistled dead when Paetsch didn't immediately recover.

If Paetsch is unable to play, Jason Pominville would be moved from the front into a defensive role on the backend.

Pominville - one of the Sabres point men on the power play - is familiar with the position when it comes to man-advantage situations.  He's practiced as a defenseman in the past, but practice never accurately simulates game situations. 

There could be a slight adjustment period for the team's captain.

"I don't think the one-on-ones, two-on-ones or the three-on-twos are a problem," said Pominville.  "It's just when pucks get deep and you have to turn around and go get them.  That's an area that I haven't practiced and haven't been able to be in that situation yet. 

Ruff's suggestion for Pominville was to keep things simplistic and for the winger to stay within his comfort zone.

"If they dump it in, I said he's going to have to treat it the way he would as a forward," said Ruff.  "Let them [the opposition] go in first and play it as a forward."

The uncertainty of Paetsch's condition is added stress on a Sabres blueline that will be without Jaroslav Spacek (chest) and Dmitri Kalinin (shoulder) for possibly weeks.

Mike Weber was recalled from Rochester as a replacement and Andrej Sekera has been playing well for the past week, but Spacek's and Kalinin's absence - coupled with Paetsch's possible - removes a vital portion of the Sabres offensive attack.

"Without a little bit of the mobility, our transition game hurts a little bit but there's no reason for us not to play solid defensively," Ruff continued.  "And I think we still can play solid defensively."


Ruff also said that Adam Mair was having his knee examined on Tuesday morning.  No timetable or severity of the injury was given.

The one bright spot on the Sabres injury report is Henrik Tallinder, who has been cleared to play in Wednesday night's match-up against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Tallinder missed the last three games with an ailing shoulder.
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