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After demotion, benching, Vanek returns to Sabres' top line

Since returning from injury five games ago, Thomas Vanek has been all over the Sabres' lineup. He started Friday's loss to Montreal as the right winger for center Tyler Ennis and left wing Matt Ellis. Against Philadelphia on Thursday, he skated at right wing alongside Ennis and Nathan Gerbe.

Vanek's best moments this season have come as the left winger on the top line with Jason Pominville. He was back there today, with Derek Roy in the middle of Buffalo's top two scorers.

"Whoever you play with, you still just try to play your game and try to be good at it," Vanek said. "We had some chemistry. We haven’t been that long apart. We’ll have to ramp it up again. We played the last 10 minutes together [Friday], had a few good chances, I thought, and we’ll try to build off that."

Vanek could use a run starting with Sunday's afternoon visit by Pittsburgh. He has two goals and four points in the last 15 games.

"A lot of it is obviously confidence," Vanek said in First Niagara Center. "I’m just trying to focus on playing the game hard, get pucks deep and keep grinding it out. I’m sure [it’s down], especially when you’re not winning. Like I said, you try and just work hard, get to the net, get rebounds and tips and try to find your game again."

Vanek sat most of the first period Friday after taking a cross-checking penalty. He understands the message. Coach Lindy Ruff hopes so.

"You can only tell over time," Ruff said. "I’ve had meetings. The message wasn’t received the previous meetings. I thought after the St. Louis game it’s been cleaned up for a period of time, but to take that penalty last night again, it’s a selfish penalty and a total lack of discipline.

"We’ve ramped up a little more structure for that off ice for undisciplined penalties, so we’re going to deal with that internally. There’s going to be ramifications for those type of situations."

---John Vogl

Thomas Vanek

Lindy Ruff

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl |

About Sabres Edge

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |