Nathan Gerbe arrived from Portland Thursday night fully expecting to simply be a member of the Sabres' "Black Aces" squad of practice players called up from the minor-league team. But Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier had a big surprise for him: Gerbe is going into the lineup tonight for Game Five and will see some time on the bedraggled Buffalo power play.
It will be the first playoff game of Gerbe's career. And while he's played in the World Junior Championships and been the MVP of the Frozen Four, this is clearly a much different stage. The Sabres are in a 3-1 hole and facing a long summer of questions if they suffer an early exit tonight.
"You've got to approach it as any other game," Gerbe said. "I try to compete hard every single game I play. For me, it's going to be no different in terms of focusing and getting ready to go. But there's always going to be some nerves there."
Gerbe had an on-ice pow-wow with Craig Rivet and former Portland teammate Tyler Ennis during the morning skate. What was the Buffalo captain saying to him? "Take it for what it is. It's a pretty special moment to be here. He was telling us about the power play a little bit and some of their defenders. ... I need to add a little speed and grit in front of the net on the power play. Sometimes when the power play is not clicking, it's really simple to get it clicking. It's just to get it in front of the net and get rebounds."
Hear Gerbe's entire interview this morning here: