RALEIGH, N.C. -- Lindy Ruff, with one extra forward on the Sabres' roster, doesn't want anyone to get stale. The coach's plan is rotate guys in and out on a game-to-game basis to keep everyone relatively fresh.
Nathan Gerbe has a chance to change that plan.
The left winger will return to the lineup tonight against Carolina after sitting out Tuesday's 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers. Gerbe is replacing Rob Niedermayer, who will be scratched for the second time in his goalless season.
"I’m ready to play and hopefully do well and stay in the lineup," Gerbe said in RBC Center.
The left winger with skate with center Paul Gaustad and right wing Jason Pominville. While Ruff plans to rotate the scratches, he acknowledged Gerbe can change that by playing well.
"Obviously, if Nathan plays really well, it will make a tougher decision," Ruff said. "I would like to see that."
Defenseman Jordan Leopold will remain on the sidelines with an upper-body injury. Ruff said Wednesday he didn't want to rush back the defenseman.
Left wing Thomas Vanek, who skipped Wednesday's practice with a bruised ankle, will play.
"Thomas is doing OK," Ruff said. "You want to have your best players in the lineup when you’re playing big games."
To hear Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller talk about the important matchup with the Hurricanes, click the audio file below.