The Sabres practiced without their most potent scorer today, as Thomas Vanek was a little "banged up" following Tuesday's 5-2 loss to Philadelphia. Coach Lindy Ruff is hopeful Vanek can return for Thursday's game against Carolina in HSBC Arena.
"Thomas is a little banged up, so we had to give him the morning off," said Ruff, who acknowledged Vanek got his hand taped up during the Flyers game. "Hopefully, he’ll be OK. There’s concern. I think there’s always concern. He couldn’t practice today. He was too sore. We’ll see where he’s at tomorrow morning."
Center Luke Adam will be able to return after missing one game with the flu. Right wing Patrick Kaleta practiced with the Sabres after visiting the doctor, but he will miss his sixth straight game and more with a broken hand suffered Dec. 28 in Edmonton.
"He saw our doctors, and he won’t be back for at least a week, at the minimum," Ruff said.
Thursday's game will be a match between the ninth- and 10th-place teams in the Eastern Conference. Carolina has 48 points and is three out of the final playoff spot, while Sabres have 41 points and are 10 behind eighth-place Atlanta.
"It is big. The way you move up is to play the teams that are right around you," Ruff said. "We’ve got an opportunity to play Carolina who is just above us, and you call these four-point games. They really turn out to be."
The audio of Ruff's news conference is below.