Craig Rivet will be back in the lineup tonight as the Sabres face the Los Angeles Kings in HSBC Arena. Patrick Kaleta might be too but we'll just have to wait and see on him. Lindy Ruff would not commit to Kaleta replacing Nathan Gerbe although Kaleta has seemed fine in practice and skated again this morning.
"He's better," Ruff said of Kaleta. "We just don't know if we want to risk playing him right now and we lose him for more time."
Rivet will replace Chris Butler in the lineup. What does Ruff want to see from his embattled captain?
"He's got to bring a consistent physical game," the coach said. "That's the part that's been missing. Some of the play in his own end defensively, the tougher reads that have cost us goals, he has to clean up."
Butler, meanwhile, continues to be a disappointment. He's never showed the promise he did during the 2008-09 season and drew the short straw tonight for a lazy penalty in the first period Wednesday that led to a Washington power play goal.
"He hasn't quite gotten to where he was when he first got here, " Ruff said. "I think there is some disappointment. We've played him out of position the last couple games trying to get him familiar with playing the right side but you can throw as many excuses as you want and you're accountable for your own play. Right now we're going to play the six guys that we think are going to get the job done. In his case, he had a little bit of a rough night and we've got to go from there."
The Kings enter the game 12-5-0 and have given up 11 goals in losing their last two. But they had given up just six in winning the six previous games as goaltender Jonathan Quick (10-2, 1.73, .936) is off to a fabulous start. LA plays tomorrow at Boston so we'll see if the Sabres get another backup in Jonathan Bernier (2-3, 3.01, .899).
(UPDATE: Bernier WILL be in goal tonight according to LAKings Insider, the must-read blog run by former Kings beat writer Rich Hammond. That's 11 backups against the Sabres this season.)
The Kings are just 1-9-1 in Buffalo since 1993. The only win was a 4-1 victory on Feb. 21, 2003. The Sabres have won the last three games here by a total score of 23-4.
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