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MORNING SKATE UPDATE FROM WASHINGTON

Saturday, 04.02.2011 / 1:21 PM
By Rob Crean - Public Relations Director / BEYOND THE BOARDS

The Sabres practiced at the Verizon Center this morning and are set to begin the April portion of their schedule tonight when they face the Washington Capitals.

Miller
Ryan Miller, who is day-to-day with an upper body injury, did not travel with the team to Washington for tonight’s game, according to Head Coach Lindy Ruff.

“It turned out he wasn’t going to practice today, so we just felt that we wouldn’t bring him along,” said Ruff, who added that Miller has not experienced any setbacks.  “He’s still moving forward, actually, he’s doing well.”

4/2 - Lindy Ruff Pregame

Jhonas Enroth is expected to once again start between the pipes for Buffalo in Miller’s absence and is coming off his first NHL shutout on Wednesday.  The 22-year-old netminder will look to carry the momentum from the 1-0 win over the Rangers into tonight’s contest while staying focused on the task at hand.

“Of course I have a little bit more confidence now, but at the same time I have to put it back behind me and just focus on this game.  I can’t live in the past, so I have to just get ready for this game now,” Enroth said.

Enroth
Enroth has never played against the Capitals, and he talked about facing one of the League’s top offensive threats in Alex Ovechkin, who leads Washington in scoring with 78 points (29-49-78).

“He’s a tough, fast player, so we’re going to be aware when he’s on the ice, but at the same time not over-think it,” said Enroth.

Cody McCormick said the key to trying to slow down Ovechkin is limiting his time and space.

“When he can get in full flight, that’s when he’s most dangerous, so if we can get on him quick, I think that can contain him a little bit.”

Washington and Buffalo currently occupy the second and seventh spots, respectively, in the Eastern Conference standings, but there is still too much congestion among the teams competing for playoff berths and seeding to suggest this game will be a first round playoff preview.  The Capitals can, however, assure themselves of one of the top three seeds, as a win tonight combined with a Tampa Bay loss to Minnesota would clinch the Southeast Division title for the Capitals.

“They’re a powerful team over there. They’ve got a lot of offense and they’re going well.  It’s a team that we’ve got to make sure we’re ready for,” McCormick said of the Capitals. 

On the injury front, Ruff said on Friday that Jochen Hecht (upper body) would not play this weekend and that it did not appear that Mike Grier (knee) would play, either. 

Ruff offered an update on defenseman Jordan Leopold, who injured his hand last week against Florida. Leopold was supposed to visit a hand specialist this past Monday, but was unable to make the appointment because he came down with the flu.  Then, Leopold came down with pneumonia, further delaying his ability to begin the recovery process on the hand injury.

“It was a tough week for him,” Ruff said.

Tonight’s game marks the front end of Buffalo’s 21st set of back-to-back games on the season as the Sabres will also visit the Hurricanes tomorrow.  Through their first 20 sets of back-to-backs, the Sabres are 11-8-1 in the first game and 9-8-3 in the second game.

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