REINFORCEMENTS ARE IN
Friday, 03.14.2008 / 2:11 PM / Features
By Erin Pollina - Sabres.com
|Michael Funk (Photo: Getty Images)|
And once again, he is needed to fulfill a big role.
|Michael Funk: Audio
Paul Gaustad: Video
Lindy Ruff: Audio
When Funk was first called up from the Rochester Americans in November of last season it was to help make up for the loss of Buffalo’s top duo of Toni Lydman and Henrik Tallinder.
This situation is no different for the 21-year-old, as he is needed to help replace the likes Jaroslav Spacek (chest), Dmitri Kalinin (shoulder) and now Nathan Paetsch (concussion), who are sidelined with injuries.
“We’ve been playing a lot of games down in Rochester and I just want to fill in,” Funk said. “If I’m playing good and I get extra ice time it’s a bonus. I just want to help out the team as much as I can and we will see where it takes us from there.”
In his first stint with the team, Funk recorded two assists in five games. The six-foot-four, 199-pound defenseman was just 12 games removed from juniors when he was called up from the Amerks.
However, he only totaled around 17 minutes of ice-time in the call-up. This time around, the blueliner could see that much ice-time in one game, as the Sabres take on the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at HSBC Arena.
“We’re going to play him and use him in that that five, six spot and try to get him probably 10-12 minutes, somewhere in that,” Lindy Ruff said. “It just depends on how it goes.
“The better he plays, the more he plays.”
With a bit more experience Funk hopes to make a contribution.
“This is what we are paid for. It is tough at times, but being down in the minors and everything you just want to get better with every day,” Funk said.
Helping him to adjust are the familiar faces of Andrej Sekera and Mike Weber, who were also called up in response to the injuries.
“It’s nice to see those guys here,” Funk said.
“There are three of us up now from Rochester and it’s a big opportunity and we want to help out as much as anybody else.”
Funk finished last season with seven points (2+5) in 61 games with the Amerks. This season the self-described “defensive defenseman” has eight points (0+8) in 50 games played.
Prior to his first season with the Amerks in 2006-07, Funk played for the Portland Winger Hawks in the WHL. He was named Rookie of the Year in 2002-03 and finished eighth in scoring among WHL defensemen in 2005-06 with 47 points (11+ 36).