BRENNAN RECALLED FROM ROCHESTER
Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 3:40 PM
After yet another injury to the Buffalo Sabres defensive corps, TJ Brennan will begin his second stint in the NHL tonight against the Ottawa Senators.
Brennan was recalled from Rochester following an injury to defenseman Christian Ehrhoff last night in Washington. Head coach Lindy Ruff maintains that the injury will leave Ehrhoff on the sidelines for a few weeks.
"Our doctor will look at him today. I don't think [the timetable] has changed. I don't think it's going to be any shorter than that," Ruff said after this morning's team meeting.
With injuries to Andrej Sekera and Ehrhoff in consecutive games and Tyler Myers still nursing a broken wrist, the Sabres defense is looking younger and less experienced than it has at almost any point this season. Brennan played in three games with Buffalo last month, scoring a goal in his NHL debut on Nov. 23 against Boston.
He was sent back down to Rochester but missed time with the Amerks due to concussion-like symptoms that stemmed from a collision with Capitals winger Alexander Ovechkin in his last game in Buffalo. If not for that injury, Brennan could have been recalled sooner.
"It was a mild concussion. Not really sure if I had one or not, but they just wanted to take precautions," Brennan said. "It took me a couple weeks to get back out there but it's a timing thing. Obviously, it's frustrating not being called back up, but it's good to see Joe Finley get some time up here and he did well while he was up here. But you just try and come back in the lineup and hope for that next call-up."
Ruff said that he will try to spread the minutes out evenly among his six healthy defensemen: Brennan, Jordan Leopold, Robyn Regehr, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Brayden McNabb and Mike Weber.
Weber knows about the injury problems the Sabres are facing all too well. After sitting out 15 of the first 18 games of the season as a healthy scratch, he missed the next 11 games with an injury of his own. With that, Weber, who has averaged 18:12 in 11 games this season, is prepared to step into a bigger role while the team endures another round of injuries.
"I feel like I'm skating well, moving well and still bringing a physical edge," Weber said. "It's still fine-tuning parts of my game to make this team successful and I think that's just really knowing my role and being the best shutdown guy I can be."
Despite the inexperience on defense, Ruff expects another close game against the Senators tonight, the fifth of six meetings this season between the teams.
"We've played them tight. All the games have been real tight with Ottawa. I wouldn't anticipate anything different," Ruff said. "They may look at our defense and think, 'We've really gotta come after them and put them under a lot of duress.' For me, it's going to be how well we're going to play in the offensive zone to relieve some of that pressure."
In other injury news, winger Nathan Gerbe will be a game-time decision. Ruff said that Gerbe, who has missed the last 10 games with a concussion, will participate in pre-game warm-ups and a decision on whether or not he'll play will be made after that.
Ruff also would not name a starting goaltender for tonight's game. Ryan Miller has started the team's last eight games while Jhonas Enroth is 2-0-0 against Ottawa this season with a 1.44 goals against average.
The Sabres and Senators square off at 7 p.m. at the First Niagara Center.