Niagara Gazette

May 26, 2006

Sabres newcomers thrown in the mix

By Eric O’Connor

BUFFALO — Cory Stillman feels bad that three of Buffalo’s top six defensemen are sitting in the press box during the Eastern Conference finals.

So bad that he can’t wait to get into Sabres’ end.

“You never want to see guys get hurt, that’s for sure, especially in the game,” Stillman said after Hurricanes rolled to a convincing 4-0 victory at HSBC Arena on Friday. “It’s unfortunate they’ve run into some injuries. Now it’s for us to take advantage of.

“We have to play in their zone and tire out their top four guys. And hopefully if their fifth and sixth guys get out there, we take advantage of that and maybe catch them in a mistake.”

Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff had little choice but to reinsert Doug Janik into the lineup after Henrik Tallinder broke his arm and Teppo Numminen’s groin pull failed to improve. Janik, who played just over four minutes in Game 2, had been pulled for Jeff Jillson in Game 3.

Both played on Friday, Jillson getting a hefty 14:35 in playing time while Janik saw 20 shifts for a little less than 11 minutes.

“Nobody said it was going to be easy. We have to regroup and move on,” Jillson said.

Mike Commodore played against both Janik and Jillson during his length tenure in the minors — he played with four different teams in the American Hockey League.

And while he thinks the duo held its own on Friday, he also thinks the two can make a bigger name for themselves with more playing time.

“It is tough luck. Definitely. Those guys were playing well. I’ve been in that position too where you’re coming up from the minors and obviously I sympathize, it’s no fun getting hurt,” Commodore said. “But at the same time, it’s a big opportunity for those guys to play. I’ve played against those guys for a few years in the minors and they’ve been around for awhile. It’s not like they don’t know how to play the game. They’re good players. They’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity.”

If nothing else, the additional time for Jillson and Janik could help preserve Jay McKee, Toni Lydman and Brian Campbell.

“We feel good,” McKee said. “They’re logging a lot of ice time. They’re very capable of playing at this level.”