The daily Sabres medical report comes with a twist today: Paul Gaustad (shoulder) and Mike Weber (rib) will be back in the lineup tonight against the Ottawa Senators, but does Weber's return mean an instant ticket back to Rochester for rookie Brayden McNabb?
Coach Lindy Ruff was coy on his plans but said in no uncertain terms that McNabb, whose physical presence has been impressive in his seven-game stint, is staying in the lineup for now.
"He's earned a spot right now the way he's played," Ruff said today. "We look at it that we've got to win games. When we get even more numbers back, maybe things change. There's a lot of factors that you guys have mentioned that you have to evaulate on. Some of it is dictated by other stuff."
Specifically, we asked Ruff about salary cap concerns and such. It seems the Sabres don't have to make a real decision until Tyler Myers is ready, which is still a few weeks away. With Weber back and McNabb staying in, you wonder if the struggling Marc-Andre Gragnani will be in the press box. Everyone can see how tough it's been for Gragnani lately, but he's somehow plus-5 in the last four games and a team-best plus-11 on the season -- tops among NHL rookies. So it will be interesting to see what the Sabres do.
As for Weber, his broken rib has healed sufficiently to let him play in just his fourth game of the season.
"I'm a little bit ahead of schedule," Weber said today. "That's just because I was feeling so good, was able to get the proper rest and strengthening working out. It was a bone, it wasn't anything muscular. Four days after I got hurt, I was back skating and working out fullbore. I'm just happy that's over and I'm ready to get back.
"I can't change what happened the first 20 games (when he was a healthy scratch 15 times) or the fact I got hurt and missed another three weeks. I can control what I do tonight and here forward. Hopefully
it's 53 straight here."
The Sabres are 8-1-0 in their last nine against the Senators, who come to town two points behind the Sabres but in a 1-3-2 slide. The goaltending matchup will be Ryan Miller vs. Craig Anderson.