By Mike Harrington
With Rihanna in First Niagara Center and a massive youth tournament in the Northtown Center, the Sabres had to practice at Cazenovia Rink in South Buffalo this afternoon. (My first time ever in the place in six years on this beat. Not bad. Nice little heaters above the viewing section). It was a short, quick workout with interim coach Ron Rolston keeping a sharp tempo in the wake of last night's flameout in New Jersey.
And Rolston put on a happy face with reporters after the workout too. He's 3-3-2 since taking over for Lindy Ruff -- and 3-1-2 since dropping his first two games against Toronto and the New York Islanders when he was largely in watch-only mode.
"The last six games we have eight points and we potentially should have had 10 points out of 12," Rolston said, referring to the blown points Sunday in New York and last night in Jersey. "There's certainly things that we want to have back like last night's game but there's also a lot of things that going positive. We're building some good roots in the ground right now for our team to grow and we just have to stay with it."
The suspended Patrick Kaleta and long-term injured Alex Sulzer were not on the ice today as expected. The only missing player was defenseman Andrej Sekera, who Rolston has pretty much ruled out for Sunday's game in Philadelphia after getting hurt in the third period Thursday. Rolston also said no to Ville Leino, who was hoping to make his season debut against his former team.
"We're just trying to get him back into practice and get him quality practice time," Rolston said. "Really grinding, get him in more competitive situations. It will be close. I don't know when. I would doubt Sunday but certainly next week a strong possibility."
Leino didn't know he had been ruled out until John Wawrow of the AP and I talked to him. He said "it really doesn't matter" who he heard it from but, from experience, I can tell you it matters.
"I think I'm at a point in the practice where I can't really push much harder," Leino said. "The next step will be the games. It's been a while. It would be nice to get back in there. [Philly] is always a special spot for me to play against. It would have been fun."
Rolston also responded to Jhonas Enroth's contention that he drank too much coffee during the day and that's why he cramped late in Thursday's game -- and why he may have been unable to get across the crease to stop Patrik Elias' tying goal with 66 seconds left.
"It's part of his growth," Rolston said. "I don't know what the final outcome was on it. Part of his growth as an athlete is making sure he's taking care of himself in that one. I know our staff has been over it and it's just something he has to take care of in the future."
Click below to hear Rolston's session with reporters today.
taggedAndrej Sekera | Ron Rolston | Ville Leino