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Beyond The Boards


Monday, 10.17.2011 / 4:27 PM ET
By Kevin Snow - (@kwsnow) / BEYOND THE BOARDS
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The Buffalo Sabres are just four games into the season, but Nathan Gerbe is already months ahead of where he was at this time last year. Gerbe has four points (1+3) in the four games, highlighted by a goal and assist in Buffalo’s 3-2 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.

It was the second multi-point outing of the season for Gerbe, who didn’t pick up his fourth point last year until December 9. He was actually held off the scoresheet through Buffalo’s first six games, and had just three points in his first 11 games. He didn’t even find the back of the net until December 21 versus Anaheim. Gerbe tried not to let the early season struggles get him down.

“Sometimes you get bounces here or there,” he said today after practice. “I thought last year I played pretty well but wasn’t at the level I wanted to be at. Sometimes the points don’t follow.”

What did follow was a red hot scoring run that saw him score 16 goals in his final 44 games of the season. The Sabres were 10-1-2 when Gerbe scored a goal, and a remarkable 19-2-4 when he collected at least one point in a game. That success has carried over to his hot start this season, and Gerbe says a lot of it has to do with his mental game.

“I think it’s maybe more of a comfort level. Last year I was trying to feel it all out to see what kind of player I could be, and was maybe putting too much stress on other areas. Now I’m just going out to play, try to embrace it and have fun.”

Jhonas Enroth’s 29-save performance in Saturday’s win at Pittsburgh has earned him another start this week. Lindy Ruff confirmed today that Enroth will be between the pipes at some point during Buffalo’s three-game road trip that starts Tuesday in Montreal.

“I think there was a little surprise I used him in the Pittsburgh game. But the plan is to get him in every three or four games. That way he’ll get 20 plus games this season.”

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Ruff said there’s a possibility that Marc-Andre Gragnani will be scratched for Tuesday’s game in his hometown. Even though Gragnani has played the point on Buffalo’s top power play unit in each game this season, Ruff said his defensive play could force the coach’s hand.

“I thought his last game in Pittsburgh was a little bit of a tough time. We know what he provides for us, he’s made some great plays on the power play. It’s the defending that Marc still has to work on.”

Ruff said he would consider moving Derek Roy, Brad Boyes or Jordan Leopold into a more prominent role on special teams if Gragnani doesn’t play.
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