Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

March 25, 2009

SABRES NOTEBOOK: Vanek, Stafford sit as Buffalo rallies

BUFFALO — Lindy Ruff had seen enough fancy passes.

When his Buffalo Sabres continued to pass away good chances in the first and second periods, Ruff made notes on his card and told his players between periods that enough was enough.

When they didn’t listen — as was the case when Thomas Vanek passed an open shot on a 2-on-1 break — he decided to emphasize the point with ice time.

Vanek played just two shifts in the third period of Buffalo surprising 5-3 victory over the Florida Panthers, while guys like Patrick Kaleta and Paul Gaustad saw a regular shift.

After the game, Ruff explained why the team’s leading scorer (among others) didn’t play much in the final period.

“We were cheating the game. We were just cheating the game,” Ruff said. “We were hoping for a dramatic goal and then I decided we’re just going to go with the guys who want to put it on net and we’ll go from there. It really does come down to that. We weren’t getting anything out of them and that was hurting us.”

Drew Stafford was another in Ruff’s doghouse — the winger finished the game with just 8:35 in ice time and also played just two shifts in the third.

•••

Suffice it to say Wednesday night did little to quash any anxieties Richard Zednik has about playing at HSBC Arena.

Making just his second appearance back in Buffalo after the horrific accident on Feb. 10, 2008 that nearly took his life, Zednik nearly suffered another injury when a puck struck him on the visor during Wednesday’s contest.

The incident occurred as Zednik was curling behind the Buffalo net in the zone the Sabres defend twice — just a few feet from where he was cut by a skate blade.

•••

The Sabres acquired Craig Rivet for the grit he showed in a late fight against Keith Ballard, but when the captain does find the back of the net, it sure doesn’t hurt.

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