By Glenn Odebralski
Both Toni Lydman and Jochen Hecht
look to make their return to the starting lineup tonight against the New York Rangers, after missing time due to various injuries. Forward Derek Roy
will not be in that starting line-up as he is still recovering from a hand injury.
"He is close," said head coach Lindy Ruff on Roy's status. "But if he can't handle the puck as well as he needs to handle it, then it's no use pushing him into action."
Lydman finally returns after missing nine games. While both Mike Card and Mike Funk filled in admirably in his stead, Ruff is glad to see Lydman return as his defensive prowess was missed.
"It will be good to get Toni back in the fold and seem him playing," said Ruff. "Defense was one area that he was striving at before the injury, and that is one area that he will give us some help."
With Lydman's return, the Sabres may be able to rely less on Brian Campbell, who has averaged around 30 minutes a game while Lydman is out. While Campbell enjoys the extra minutes, the replacement of Lydman for a rookie defenseman will help to disperse ice time more evenly.
"Obviously Toni is going to play quite a few minutes," said Campbell. "I'm sure it will be a lot less for all of us. You know you take what you get and you move on."
Lydman has been "chomping at the bit" to get back in the lineup and to be around the guys on the ice. Sidelined since November 11th, he may need some time to readjust.
As much as Ruff wants to see Lydman out there playing as many minutes as he possibly can, he knows that the defenseman can't be pushed.
"I think we will give him as much as he can handle," said Ruff. "Depending on how he does will determine how much he'll play."
With Campbell's play during Lydman injury, Ruff may still rely on the defenseman from Strathroy, Ontario to take the majority of ice time if Lydman isn't up to par.
Campbell doesn't seem to care how much he plays, but as long as he plays in general.
"I don't know what's going to happen with the ice time," said Campbell. "Whenever they tell me to go out, I'll go out.