By John Vogl
MONTREAL -- As Drew Stafford said today, it’s no secret he’s struggled to produce offensively. The former 30-goal scorer has found the net just four times in 31 games while falling from a top-six forward to a fourth-line player.
His descent is continuing as Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston announced he’ll scratch the right winger tonight against Montreal.
“It’s definitely disappointing, but it’s his decision and something I have to respect,” Stafford said in Bell Centre. “I have to work my way back into the lineup. It’s no secret I haven’t been getting on the score sheet.
“I’ve told you guys before, the game reveals your character. It’s the same kind of situation right now. This is obviously extremely disappointing. We’ve been winning a couple games as well, so you definitely want to be part of the solution. Not tonight, unfortunately, but like I said it’s his decision ultimately and it’s something I have to respect that. I have to be a professional about it and go back to work and try and work my way back in.”
Stafford has gone pointless in three straight games and has three goals and no assists in the past 13.
“We want everyone to play and play hard,” Rolston said. “We’ve got a lot of guys. We’ve got some tough decisions right now, so it’s just a decision.”
Nathan Gerbe, scratched in the past two victories, will return to the lineup. Thomas Vanek is also back after missing Thursday’s game against Toronto with a hip injury.
“It’s never easy sitting,” said Gerbe, who has three goals and six points in 25 games. “I thought I’ve been playing well when I get out there. The role I’m in, I thought I’ve been playing really well, great chances and working hard, and that’s all I can control.”
Enforcer John Scott will be the Sabres’ other healthy scratch, while Andrej Sekera will miss his fourth straight game with an upper-body injury.
Ryan Miller will start in goal. He is 24-9-6 against Montreal with a .922 save percentage. Jhonas Enroth, who has a bruised left hand, is 3-0 against the Canadiens with a .925 save percentage and beat the Habs on Tuesday.