By Mike Harrington
It was past 3 a.m. when most of the Sabres hit their beds after the flight home from Florida, so they delayed practice today into the afternoon and it was a short, 25-minute affair at the Northtown Center at Amherst. A few players stayed on an extra half-hour or so working, largely because there's no morning skate before tomorrow's 3 p.m. game against New Jersey in First Niagara Center.
Thomas Vanek was the only missing healthy player, with interim coach Ron Rolston said it was simply another maintenance day. Jordan Leopold was back at practice, skating on the extra defense pair with T.J. Brennan. Winger Ville Leino, who has not played this year due to his bad hip, skated hard on his own for nearly 40 minutes prior to practice and then skated in a limited role with his teammates for the first time in a full practice session since Jan. 18.
"Rehab has been good lately, I've been skating the last five days pretty hard and I was going pretty hard today," Leino said. "I felt pretty good. If it's not too sore the next two days, I'll be pretty close to being able to play."
Leino needs to practice fully to get back in the lineup but he said it's possible he could be playing by late next week, perhaps next Thursday in New Jersey or by the March 10 game at his old stomping ground in Philadelphia.
The Sabres now have to deal with the Ryan Miller issue, as the March schedule is filled with back-to-back games and three-games-in-4-5-days stretches. Miller, the runaway NHL leader in shots against and saves, will play his 12th straight game Saturday and almost certainly will make it 13 Sunday night in Madison Square Garden against the Rangers.
Rolston said today that the Sabres have to get little-used Jhonas Enroth back on the ice. Enroth has played three games, starting two, and hasn't played since Feb. 5 at Ottawa. He hasn't won since Nov. 26, 2011 and is 0-10-3 since. I wonder if he plays Tuesday in Carolina, where he was drilled Jan. 24 but has played well in his career. Rolston said it's a matter of picking the right spot and that would be mine. Enroth has been mostly terrible in his three appearances, with a 4.75 GAA and .847 save percentage. Eeeeek.
Miller could play next week in New Jersey, essentially meaning he would play only one game in a six-game six-day stretch -- the kind of break he'll rarely be able to get the rest of the season. (Sorry for the confusion and bad typo struck out there if you read an earlier version)
"We certainly communicate with [Miller] a lot in terms of where he's at," Rolston said. "But we also have to make sure we're helping him manage the situation too because I'm sure he wants to play as much as he can. "
Click below to hear Rolston's session this afternoon as he talks about Nathan Gerbe's two-goal night at Florida, the injuries and the momentum the team hopes it can continue to build upon after winning both games in the Sunshine State.
taggedJhonas Enroth | Ron Rolston | Ville Leino