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PRATT PLAYS WELL, INJURES GROIN

Friday, 11.02.2007 / 11:10 PM / Features
By Brian Wheeler  - Sabres.com
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PRATT PLAYS WELL, INJURES GROIN
Defenseman Nolan Pratt
The ink hadn't dried on Nolan Pratt's letter of intent to play hockey in the Russian Super Leagues when his telephone rang.

Just 60 minutes separated Pratt's career away from the NHL and the opportunity with the Buffalo Sabres that general manager Darcy Regier was presenting from 1,300 miles to the north.


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That call was both a shock and a blessing for the 11-year veteran, who saw his first action of the season  Friday night in Buffalo's 4-2 loss to Florida when a shoulder injury forced Jaroslav Spacek out of the lineup.

"I was really surprised at the time," said Pratt of the Sabres interest.  "I didn't think anything was going to happen over that last period."

Pratt's agent had initial discussions with Buffalo over the summer but things hadn't panned out before the regular season.  Pratt secured a spot overseas, and was left without an NHL home for the 2007-08 season.  Or so he thought.

Regier's phone call ended Pratt's hiatus from North American hockey before it even had a chance to begin. 

After that, his life became a movie montage where the protagonist trains into championship form in the matter of minutes.  Pratt went from unrestricted free agent, to tryout hopeful, to signing his name on a one-year deal, to key member of the Sabres blueline in just seven days.

He finished Friday night tied for the team lead with captain Toni Lydman by blocking three shots and posted a minus-one rating.

"He played really well," said goaltender Jocelyn Thibault, who turned away 20-of-24 shots in the loss.  "It's really tough to get in there after sitting at home for so long.  He hadn't even had a practice with the team.  He's just had a couple of pre-game skates. 

"I thought he was tremendous."

Conditioning was the Sabres' main concern when deciding how to proceed with Pratt once he was acquired.

The team had hoped to assign the defenseman to the Rochester Americans for a conditioning stint and to get him better acquainted with their style of play.  A defensive defenseman, Pratt has had limited exposure to Buffalo's defensive scheme.

That plan disappeared Friday with Spacek's injury, and unfortunately, Pratt became the latest Sabres blueliner to be bitten by the injury bug that same night.

He saw action in just two periods and had his cinematic story cut short. 

"He was doing pretty good, and then he kind of tweaked his groin a little bit ... then we lost him," said head coach Lindy Ruff.  "That's the greatest fear of trying to put somebody in the lineup.  We were either going to put him in the lineup here or in Rochester and it could have happened in either.

"I said it this morning, you can practice and skate all you want on your own but until you get in that intense game situations you don't know what you expect."

Ruff termed the injury minor and said that Pratt would be reexamined on Saturday.  His benching in the third was just precautionary.

It wasn't the storybook ending that everyone had hoped for.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82