The NHL has just named Sabres winger Thomas Vanek as its First Star of the Week after he recorded back-to-back three-point games last week over Tampa Bay and Philadelphia, including Friday's overtime winner against the Flyers. Vanek completed the regular season as the team leader in goals (32), assists (41) and points (73).
Tampa Bay center Vincent Lecavalier was the second star of the week and Anaheim goalie Dan Ellis was named the league's third star.
Vanek sat out Saturday's game in Columbus as a precaution but returned to the ice today in HSBC Arena as the team had his first workout in preparation for Thursday's playoff opener in Philadelphia. Tampa
The only surprise player missing from practice was center Tim Connolly, who was seen wrapped in several ice packs following Saturday's game. Coach Lindy Ruff said Connolly was simply given an extra day to rest today. Mike Grier (knee) seems to be doing the best of the injured and is hopeful of playing Thursday night.
Ruff said Andrej Sekera is getting better and could be on the ice tomorrow. Although Ruff said Jochen Hecht is "not close" to returning, the coach said he remains hopeful Hecht can return in this series. Ruff said he did not know about a potential return of defenseman Jordan Leopold against the Flyers from his broken finger, although his return date would coincide with the final three games of the series.
Derek Roy was again on the ice at practice taking part in some drills and skating on his own with assistant coach James Patrick but Ruff's answer was "not that I know of" when asked if there was any chance Roy would return in this series. He seems destined for a round two return if the Sabres advance.