ST. LOUIS -- I know fans wanted Lindy Ruff skating the Sabres into the ground this afternoon but that's not the reality in today's NHL. The Sabres have played five games in the last seven nights and got here from Winnipeg after 3 a.m. So today in Scottrade Center, it was just an optional skate. Only a few players, plus several injured players were on the ice along with goaltenders Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth.
"To practice after five games in seven nights and to get in at basically three in the morning, it doesn't make any sense," said Ruff, who put his team through plenty of extra video work for Saturday night's game against the red-hot St. Louis Blues.
Ruff said he'd give Patrick Kaleta, who took a shot to the foot Thursday, "the 90 percent nod" that Kaleta will play tonight. Ruff was far more pessimistic in Winnipeg but said today a lot of the pain in Kaleta's foot had subsided. Ruff said the Sabres would not call up a forward from Rochester and indicated he could use 6-foot-8 Joe Finley up front if Kaleta can't go; Finley has been here as a healthy scratch on defense.
Plenty of injured guys skated today with the list including Paul Gaustad, Robyn Regehr, Christian Ehrhoff and Tyler Ennis. Ehrhoff continues to be the closest to returning. Ennis is trying to bounce back from what Ruff termed a "major setback" with his high ankle sprain; Ennis was injured Oct. 22, returned in December to play eight games and was hurt again Dec. 17 in Pittsburgh.
The Blues are a daunting challenge for the Sabres as they boast the NHL's best home record (20-3-3), the league's top goals against average (1.94) and a goalie in Jaroslav Halak who is working on two straight shutouts and more than 148 minutes without allowing a goal. Good team to be playing when you've lost 11 in a row on the road and can't score.
"We're going to havve to risk some things," Ruff said. "They play so well defensively and their goaltender has been lights-out. We're going to have to get some places we haven't been in previous games and take some chances."
To hear more from Ruff on the injuries, the Blues' hot run and Brad Boyes' return to St. Louis, click the audio file below.