There were only five defensemen at practice Tuesday morning for the Buffalo Sabres, but still there was good news.
Tyler Myers who left Monday’s game with a lower body injury could be back for tonight’s game when the Sabres host the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7:30 in First Niagara Center.
Myers went down in the second period, hitting the boards hard and struggling to get off the ice. He played another shift, but left the game with about four minutes left in the second. He did not return for the third and after the game, the Sabres seemed concerned about the severity of the injury.
But the injury improved overnight and while Myers did not practice, interim coach Ted Nolan said it is possible he will play tonight.
“It’s a lot better than we thought,” Nolan said after Tuesday’s practice. “It’s more of a day-to-day situation so he was moving around pretty good today and hopefully he moves around real good tomorrow and gets to play. He could play tomorrow. You never know in situations like this. You never know how serious they are until you look at them. Right now it’s kind of a day-to-day thing.
“When you see a guy go down, no matter who it is, some guys get banged up but he looked like he was hurt last night. It’s a good thing that he’s not hurt as seriously as we thought so that’s a good thing.”
Also banged up in the game was Mike Weber, who did not practice but is likely to be in tonight’s lineup.
And you will definitely see Chad Ruhwedel back on the blue line.
The rookie played in five games for the Sabres this season. He made his NHL debut with the club last year playing in seven games. He has been solid for the Sabres in his games this season but was a healthy scratch for Monday’s 3-2 loss to Edmonton.
“They talked to me and said don’t look into it, you’re playing well and be ready for the next game,” Ruhwedel said. “I just need to keep making that good first pass. Being sound defensively and then when you can capitalize on the offensive blue line try to do so.”
Nolan indicated that the 23-year old Ruhwedel sat as part of a game-management strategy. The Sabres will likely return Ruhwedel to the Rochester Americans for the Olympic break.
“He’s a younger player. We have a lot of games,” Nolan said. “You look at Tyler, he got banged up last night. Weber gets banged up last night. This kid, he’s gotta go back down to the American League right after this and play another six games and come back up here and play some more. ... That’s a lot. You almost have to manage it properly so you don’t put kids in a position where they might get hurt.”
When asked if Ruhwedel would definitely be back up in Buffalo after the Olympics, Nolan hedged his bets.
“Nothing’s cut it stone,” Nolan said. “We’ll look at it at that time.”
Zenon Konopka had an interesting start to his Tuesday morning. He spent it watching brain surgery.
Yes, you read that right, brain surgery.
Konopka put a photo on Twitter Tuesday morning of a trio of doctors preparing to remove a brain tumor. “Most interesting morning in along time ... Brain surgery. #unreal #frontrowseat #wow” he tweeted.
Here’s the backstory: Konopka’s charity of choice is Stop Concussions, a non-profit foundation to address the growing trend of concussions in all sports. Through the foundation, he was put in contact with some doctors in Buffalo who invited him to see what was involved in brain surgery.
“They cut him and cut out a fracture of his skull to get to the tumor,” Konopka said. “You’ve got to get the tumor out without touching any important parts of your brain, pop her out and put it all back together. .... It was intense. When that saw starts up. Whoa. It was pretty impressive. These guys are just absolute geniuses.”
The Pittsburgh Penguins have been without their top defenseman and it’s uncertain when he may be returning.
Kris Letang missed his third straight game Monday night when the Penguins defeated the Ottawa Senators, 2-1, in overtime and he will miss tonight’s game in Buffalo.
Letang missed the games due to illness. When asked by reporters on Monday if there was any concern the illness could be serious and keep him out for the long-term, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said they were uncertain and doing more tests.
Letang has 10 goals and eight assists in 34 games for Pittsburgh this season.
With several players and coaches preparing to leave for Sochi, Russia, for the Olympic Games there is one sad thing most will leave behind – their families.
With security a concern, many are choosing not to bring family with them, including Nolan who will be the head coach for Latvia.
“No not that in that situation,” Nolan said when asked if he was bringing family to the Games. Was security the reason?
“Yeah, it’s part of it,” Nolan said. “It’s the majority of it. ... I’m just thinking safety first. The Games are unique but it doesn’t matter what the event is, safety is the No. 1 concern.”
Henrik Tallinder, who will play for Sweden, also is not taking his family and agreed it was a shame. “That’s not what you expect from the Olympics,” he said. “It is what it is.”
Luke Adam was added to the 2014 AHL All-Star Roster. Adam has 19 goals and 13 assists in 29 games for the Rochester Americans. He played in nine games for the Sabres, picking up one goal.
The All-Star event, held in St. John’s, Newfoundland, will be Feb. 11-12. Defenseman Brayden McNabb was also named to the team.