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by Erin Pollina / Buffalo Sabres
Henrik Tallinder (Photo: Getty Images)
Henrik Tallinder will return the Buffalo Sabres defense corps tonight.

Teppo Numminen will be forced to sit out.

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After being sidelined for the last 12 games with a shoulder injury, Tallinder is now among eight healthy blueliners on the Sabres roster. His return meant tough decisions for Head Coach Lindy Ruff, who opted to bench a 39-year-old Numminen in favor of rookie Chris Butler.

“First and foremost, it’s about winning,” Ruff said. “We’ll address who we think our top six [defensemen] are and what we think is going to work. Right now we’re looking for more of a physical edge with Butler in the lineup and we’ll see how it goes.”

Butler was recalled from the AHL Portland Pirates in December to help fill the void left by injuries, but has made a case to stay in the NHL. The 22 year old has two assists and a plus-4 rating through 26 games this season.

Tallinder has six points (1+5) in 43 games for Buffalo this season and Ruff hopes he can provide relief for the Sabres' special teams that have allowed five power play goals on 11 chances in the last four games.

“He’s always a pretty big piece of our penalty killing and that part of our game has struggled as of late,” Ruff said. “We’re hoping hat his size, reach – probably his biggest asset - will help us in that area."

Along with Numminen, Nathan Paetsch will serve as a healthy scratch.
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