"Nothing is Broken" The Buffalo faithful let out a collective sigh of relief as Thomas Vanek uttered these words. Vanek is doubtful for Game 3 in Boston on Monday at 7pm ET. The Left Winger will likely return at some point during this first round series.
His injury has been called "lower-body", a severe ankle sprain, and also a high ankle sprain. None of those are good news, but the most important news is that the injury is not season-ending. Vanek travelled with the team to Boston on Sunday. If the ankle heals quickly, he could technically still play in game 3.
Drew Stafford is a candidate to replace Vanek in the lineup if his baseline test results are favorable. Stafford sustained a concussion several weeks ago when Ottawa's Andy Sutton laid him out with a hard clean body check.
If Stafford is not ready, a call-up will be made from Portland. That recall would be either Nathan Gerbe or Mark Mancari. I would say it is 80/20 in favor of Gerbe, considering he was the last man sent down.
Check out the Buffalo News Sabres page for Audio from Vanek & Sabres Coach Lindy Ruff.
Feelings for Game 3: It's a best of Five series now. I feel about the same as I did before game 1. The Sabres have a good chance to win the series, but it's by no means easy to predict. Ryan Miller has done his part. His four goals allowed in Game 2 included several of the fluky and screened variety. Lucic's goal saw him way out of the net, but that was simply a result of bad decisions made by Buffalo skaters, committing giveaways and not covering Lucic for the rebound.
We're minus Thomas Vanek. That's a bummer, but not a catastrophe, since he's coming back. Tim Connolly is playing, but according to Ruff, not 100% back. This may be even more unfortunate than Vanek being out. Connolly has been a beast for Buffalo in the playoffs. Before Mike Fisher turned out the lights in '06, he was leading the Sabres team in playoff points (ahead of Danny Briere & Chris Drury). The Sabres need him to be an offensive threat to win games. He currently has no points and a -2 thru the first two games.
Craig Rivet has one shot in two playoff games... and it went in.
All 5 Sabre goals have been scored by a different Sabre player. Vanek, Ellis, Myers, Rivet, Pominville. The statistical sample isn't big enough to make any judgements yet, but i'd like to continue to see this trend of balanced scoring. Roy and Connolly will get their goals, it's up to the 3rd & 4th lines to keep chipping in as they did in the regular season.
Patrick Kaleta doesn't stand out so much when he's not the only one running around trying to kill people. Specifically, Mike Grier has stepped up his hitting. Grier runs 6'1", 227. Not exactly a small man. Gaustad, Mair, and Kaleta have continued their physical play and matched Boston in the hit category. "Hits" is a bogus statistic; i'm not going to waste my time looking up and comparing # of hits. However as I watch the games, Buffalo is "matching" Boston's physical play.
Head to http://sabres.nhl.com/index.html to check out the Sabres Playoff Video Opener.
It will be Ryan Miller vs. Tuukka Rask round 3, tomorrow at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Mass. Game Time is 7pm ET (9am Tuesday in South Korea)