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Ruff, Gragnani set to return for Sabres; Ehrhoff likely out with illness

Lindy Ruff has had enough of the press box. The Sabres' coach has decided it's time to return to the bench.

Ruff, still nursing three broken ribs, will nonetheless be rinkside tonight when the Sabres host New Jersey in First Niagara Center. Ruff has spent the past three games upstairs in the coaching booth, but that's not the life for him.

"I wasn’t exactly enjoying myself upstairs, I can tell you that," Ruff said after today's morning skate. "You miss the intensity of the game. Sitting up there is fine, but there’s a lot of things you miss out on and you don’t get a real good feel. I’m excited to get back."

The coach is still moving slowly, so he'll wear protection on his midsection. He'll also keep assistant coaches James Patrick and Teppo Numminen near him on the bench.

"It is a flak jacket-type of design that will protect me if I do get hit," Ruff said. "I’m going to have to be careful. I won’t be jumping up on top of the bench. I’ve got to stay away from some quick movements. Even yelling, I’ve had some issues when I’ve even tried to cough. The tough part is maybe just to stay calm when otherwise you’d get pretty excited."

The most excited player in Buffalo's dressing room was likely Marc-Andre Gragnani. The defenseman, who has been a healthy scratch since the last meeting with the Devils seven games ago, is expected to play in place of Christian Ehrhoff.

Ehrhoff missed today's session because of illness and is visiting with doctors.

"It’s been hard for me," said Gragnani, who has a goal and 11 assists in 43 games. "I’ve worked hard and tried to stay positive, especially in front of the guys. You don’t want to be that guy that brings everyone down, so I try to bring a smile every day to the rink. I think that’s what I did. I’m pretty excited to be back."

Gragnani will return to his spot on the top power-play unit.

"He understands that some of the battle wasn’t there when he was playing," Ruff said. "We feel that with a bigger effort he can easily fill in and be a reliable defenseman for us."

---John Vogl

Lindy Ruff

Marc-Andre Gragnani

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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 |