By Miguel Rodriguez
While Thomas Vanek said he was doing better and hoped to play Tuesday night against the streaking Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston said it's "highly unlikely" his leading scorer will suit up for the showdown between the best and one-of-the worst teams in the Eastern Conference at Consol Energy Center.
Vanek has missed the past three games with an upper-body injury suffered last Tuesday in a loss at Tampa Bay. He has been sidelined seven games total this season but still leads Buffalo with 16 goals and 33 points in just 29 games.
Rolston said there still are somethings Vanek can't do on the ice, although the Sabres winger said today's skate went better than Sunday's, which was better than Saturday's.
Vanek was out early, along with Jhonas Enroth and Nathan Gerbe, for practice, roughly 20-25 minutes before slowly being joined by the rest of his teammates at First Niagara Center. Vanek participated fully in the practice which ran about 30 minutes.
Robyn Regehr and Steve Ott missed practice for what Rolston called maintenance days. Ott did leave the game briefly Sunday after absorbing a hit into the boards from Boston's Zdeno Chara.
Ville Leino was scheduled to meet with medical personnel in the afternoon.
The winger is believed to be sidelined by a rib injury. Leino has played in just eight of the team's 36 games, missing a sizeable chunk with a hip injury suffered toward the end of training camp back in January.
Of course the trade deadline and the Penguins' 15-game winning streak were hot topics of discussion.
On the trade front, Darcy Regier has already said he's open to offers on all his players. Regehr, a veteran, stay-at-home defenseman in the last year of his contract, is one who would seemingly might be in demand by teams gearing up for playoff runs.
Regehr said it would depend on the situation as to whether he'd be open to dropping his no-trade clause. Remember the Sabres convinced him to drop his no-trade clause and accept a deal to join the club two summers ago. He also said there have been no contract extension talks with the Sabres.
Here are some interviews from today's post-practice media scrums.