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by Kevin Snow / Buffalo Sabres

The news wasn’t as bad as he anticipated, but head coach Lindy Ruff confirmed that defenseman Christian Ehrhoff will miss some action with a lower body suffered in the first period last night in Washington.

“It’ll be a period of time,” said Ruff following today’s practice at First Niagara Center. When pressed further for news on Ehrhoff’s evaluation by team doctors today, Ruff would only say that he would “put it in the better category.”

With Ehrhoff out, that opens the door for Mike Weber to return after being a healthy scratch for the last four games.

“Mike played well in the two previous games before sitting out,” said Ruff “And we’re going to need him to play well again.”

Andrej Sekera was given today off as a maintenance day after blocking a shot with his foot last night that forced him to miss part of the second period. Ruff said he’ll be ready to go on Friday when the Pittsburgh Penguins come to town. Derek Roy also missed today’s practice with what Ruff said might be “a touch of the flu.”

Ryan Miller apologized for sounding like a broken record, but just like his foundation, he remains steadfast in his belief that Tuesday’s 5-1 win in Washington was just another game that the Buffalo Sabres had to take two points from.

“It hasn’t been much different for the last two months. No sense changing now. It’s a stop along the way. We’ve needed to win games for a couple of months now. Our backs have been against the wall. That’s how we approached last night.

“I knew if we got organized we’d play better hockey. You don’t see yourself going on a run like this. You just try and build up and get as close as you can. We’ve got ourselves into a position where we win games and control our own destiny. That’s a good feeling. Like I said, it’s a stop along the way. We’ve had to win for a long time. We see it as we have to win every game on the way out to make sure that we’re there.

Miller does see some similarities between this year’s team, and the one that ended last season on a 16-4-4 run under new owner Terry Pegula. Last night’s win improved Buffalo to 14-2-4 since February 17, trailing just Pittsburgh for the second-best record in the league during this period. They are also 19-5-5 in their last 29 games since a 4-2 defeat in St. Louis on January 21, the final setback in a horrific 12-game road losing streak. 

Like most players, Miller would rather head towards the final five games in a more comfortable position, rather than having to fight for their playoff lives every night. But Miller knows this team will make every effort to dig themselves out of the hole they created all on their own.

“I guess we’re better late than never. It’s not ideal, but it’s what’s necessary. I think we’ve shown that we have a lot of pride. We were being questioned a lot about our makeup, the kind of players we were for a long time. We knew we had better hockey in us. It’s a source of pride.

“I’ll probably end up repeating myself a lot over the course of the end of the season here, but you don’t want to be remembered for having a horrible start and basically wasting your season. We want to battle and compete, and however things turn out, we show that we have pride. We’re happy with the checkpoint we’re at now. But we have five games left with some tough opponents, and it continues to be the same situation that we’ve been in for the past few months. We’ve gotta win.”

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