Colin Stuart, come on down.
The Sabres are giving that instruction to someone in Rochester seemingly every day and the Amerks' captain got the call last night to drive west on the Thruway rather than hop the Amerks' bus East to Glens Falls. Corey Tropp (concussion) and Jochen Hecht (lower body) were injured last night and won't play tonight against the New York Rangers. They'll be replaced by Stuart and Ville Leino, back after a one-game NHL suspension.
Stuart, 29, is second on the Amerks with 17 points (eight goals, nine assists). He had 16 goals and 28 assists last year in 72 games for Portland, and played three pointless games for the Sabres. He said the Sabres' injury bug has been a daily topic of conversation in the Amerks' dressing room.
"There are a lot of familiar faces here, which makes the transition easier but it's been an interersting situation so far," Stuart said. "It's been pretty wild. When you're down there, you're focusing on doing your best and playing best for the team but the situation up here has definitely been followed pretty closely. We're surprised like everybody else is.
Coach Lindy Ruff said Hecht's injury is not a long-term one but was not as optimistic on Tropp. Tonight will feature backup goalies Jhonas Enroth and Martin Biron, the ex-Sabre.
Asked about the success of Paul Szczechura, who has yet to practice with the team but has three assists in three games including one on Jason Pominville's OT winner, Ruff joked, "Maybe we should have everybody not practice with us. Maybe that's the secret. Our practices suck maybe."
Meanwhile, Ruff continued to heap praise on Brayden McNabb but remains down on Marc-Andre Gragnani, whose turnover created Claude Giroux's overtime winner Wednesday. Gragnani lost the puck to Stephen Weiss on an early power play Friday that saw the Panther beat Ryan Miller but have his shot clang off the post.
"We need more," Ruff said. "We need better focus, better intensity. We need him to be better in those situations. I don't sense tentative. His strength is with the puck. He's misplayed it, thrown some blind plays. I sense some frustration. I see him slamming his stick but you've got to get by that. The frustration part sometimes gets the better of a player."
taggedRochester Amerks | Sabres