Lindy Ruff had to resort to pained smiles and gallows humor to describe the injury situation facing the Sabres tonight against the Washington Capitals in First Niagara Center.
Asked if he's concern his team's play may suffer if it starts to feel sorry for its plight, Ruff cracked, "I don't think there's enough of them there to feel sorry for themselves. There's enough guys [from Rochester] now that they overnumber the guys feeling sorry. That pack is even. It's 9-9 now."
Yep, the Sabres will be without nine regulars tonight. Robyn Regehr (upper body) was hurt last night in Columbus and 20-year-old Brayden McNabb has been called up fromm Rochester. Ruff then said an unnamed forward was hurt last night and will be replaced by a callup but would not elaborate.
The scuttlebutt out of Rochester is that center Paul Szczechura is on the way up from the Amerks. (2:15 p.m. update: The Sabres officially announce the callups of McNabb and Szczechura) As for who's hurt, we saw all four centers (Derek Roy, Luke Adam, Jochen Hecht and Paul Gaustad) in the locker room area this morning following the players' meeting. I'd be concerned about Thomas Vanek, who took a hard hit in the final seconds last night, and Jason Pominville, who did not play over the final 5:14 of the game. We'll see.
So the injury rundown is this: Ryan Miller (concussion), Tyler Ennis (ankle), Tyler Myers (wrist), Cody McCormick (upper body, believed to be concussion), Brad Boyes (lower body, believed to be ankle), Mike Weber (upper body), Patrick Kaleta (lower body, believed to be groin), Regehr (upper body) and Mr. X No. 9.
Ennis, Kaleta, McCormick and Weber all skated today. Ruff said Kaleta is progressing and Ennis might be the furthest along of anyone.
McNabb has one goal, nine assists and is plus-5 for the Amerks and marks the third straight game an Amerk has made his NHL debut (following T.J. Brennan and Zack Kassian). Szczechura has one goal and six assists in nine games and is plus-7. He missed all of training camp with a knee injury and his return to the lineup has helped Rochester up front.
Szczechura, who turns 26 Wednesday, has played the last six years in the AHL. He played 83 games for Tampa Bay from 2008-2010, collecting nine goals and seven assists.
"It's definitely nice to be comfortable in the room knowing a lot of guys," McNabb said. "It's unfortunate for all the injuries but it gives us a chance."
"It's a hell of an opportunity for some of our young guys," Ruff said. "I know it's tough. Nobody in the league is going to feel sorry for us. We're in a tough stretch where we have to try to win games. I think young players playing can help you win games."
Look for Jhonas Enroth to meet Tomas Vokoun in goal tonight. The Sabres are 2-4-1 in their last seven and winless in three (0-2-1). The Caps are 3-6-1 in their last 10 after a 9-2 start.
Click below to hear audio from Ruff and McNabb.