Thomas Vanek shot a few pucks on his own and did a few sprints in one end of HSBC Arena this morning. Frankly, he didn't look all that comfortable testing his injured right hand. Nonetheless, Vanek said he will be in the lineup tonight when the Sabres face the Carolina Hurricanes.
"I expected to be a little uncomfortable but it actually went better than I thought it would," Vanek said. "It felt good. I still think I can contribute and score out there so that's why I'm in."
The Sabres are getting into dire straits in the standings (they're seven points behind ninth-place Carolina heading into tonight's game), but Vanek said he's not pushing the envelope because of the conference race.
"It's always based on if you can help the team," he said. "Even now, we're in a tough situation but if I would have felt like I can't shoot and can't help the team, there's no purpose in playing."
"It's not uncommon for a player to try to battle through [injury]," added coach Lindy Ruff. "He's not 100 percent but a lot of players are not 100 percent when they play. Thomas thinks it's important that he plays and I do too."
Vanek played 24 minutes Tuesday against Philadelphia and the injury flared up after the game and kept him off the ice Wednesday. The line of Vanek, Tim Connolly and Jason Pominville did very little offensively against the Flyers and that has to change quickly.
"We were put together for a reason," Vanek said. "That's not just to score goals but to create momentum and offense and we didn't do much of that. On the power play we didn't do the job and it carried over on our five-on-five play."
In other news, Ruff said Luke Adam would return to the lineup tonight after missing Tuesday's game with the flu. Ruff said he had not decided to go with six or seven defensemen but it seemed unlikely he would scratch Nathan Gerbe, who might be coming off his best game of the season Tuesday.
Ruff kept his players off the ice this morning so they would stay a little fresher for the game, much like he did on the Western road trip. The only ones who skated were the injured Patrick Kaleta, backup goaltender Patrick Lalime and defensemen Craig Rivet and Chris Butler. Hmmm. Wonder if Ruff is going back to six blueliners and scratching the captain again.
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