After two straight wins against division rivals to start the new year, the Buffalo Sabres are ready to welcome back two veteran players.
Captain defenseman Craig Rivet is ready to return as early as tomorrow night when the Sabres take on the Sens at the HSBC arena. Rivet has missed 11 games with a shoulder injury. Coincidentally enough rookie defenseman Chris Butler has filled in nicely for his injured captain.
Butler has been steady on the blue line for the blue gold with one point and a plus-three in his first eight games as an NHL defensemen. Now with Rivet returning to the lineup it will be tough to decide which defenseman will sit.
Veteran defenseman Teppo Numminen has played in all 39 games so far this season. Lets look to see if Lindy Ruff will stick with his savy veteran or instill his trust in Butler to remain playing on such a high level.
Tim Connolly is also getting healthy and hopes to rejoin the lineup this week. Connolly missed the beginning of the season due to two fractured vertebrae in his back. Then just after six games he suffered a broken rib after taking a crushing blow from St. Louis forward Keith Tkachuk.
There is no arguing the fact that the Sabres are much more explosive offensively when Connolly is in the lineup. Connolly also adds depth at center, a position Ruff has asked more from as of late. Connolly is a sure upgrade all around, especially on the power play. He has seven points in six games this season. Sabres fans hope that he can finish off the entire season in the lineup, and lead his streaky team into the postseason.
My fingers are crossed, but I'm not getting my hopes up.