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ROY SHIFTS TO LEFT WING

Tuesday, 02.10.2009 / 9:24 AM / News
By Erin Pollina  - Sabres.com
Derek Roy (Photo: Bill Wippert)
Derek Roy knew it as soon as he entered the locker room Monday morning; for the first time in two years the centerman would be pushed to left wing.

“I saw me and Timmy [Connolly] had the same jersey color, so I figured it out,” Roy said, each colored practice jersey denoting a different line.

Playing alongside Drew Stafford, the trio makes up a highly skilled line for the Buffalo Sabres, who are trying to fill the void left by an injured Thomas Vanek.

Vanek, the team’s leading scorer with 32 goals and 52 points, will be sidelined for three to four weeks after fracturing his jaw Saturday night in Ottawa.

“It’s an opportunity for three very creative guys to be together,” said Head Coach Lindy Ruff said. “It’s maybe something we look at in a game, it may be a line that isn’t even in tomorrow’s practice.”

The threesome has combined for six goals and 11 points in the last five games for the Sabres and together recorded 103 points on the year.

“At the same time, if you put all of your creative guys together there’s not enough smack on the line,” Ruff said. “A lot of times two skilled guys with a real good worker works even better. I liked it. I’d have to like it in a game.”

It isn’t the first time Roy has made the shift. He played wing in the 2006 playoffs alongside Chris Drury and Mike Grier, and more recently in the World Championships next to Carolina’s Eric Staal and Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis

“It’s different playing on the wing but I like it,” Roy said. “I have two great linemates that pass me the puck and work hard together. It’s going to be one of those things that you have to adjust to quick.

“After you get the hang of it a few times it’s like riding a bike.”

The move put Clarke MacArthur back alongside Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville while Matt Ellis centered Pat Kaleta and Ales Kotalik. The remaining line consisted of Dan Paille, Adam Mair and Andrew Peters on Monday afternoon at HSBC Arena.

“Staff will get a bigger piece now [with Vanek out of the lineup],” Ruff said. “The power play will change the makeup a little bit… Clarke MacArthur gets a bigger look and some other guys that haven’t had that big a look will get some ice time that they haven’t had. We’ve had good success in the past with players being able to grab that ice time and do something with it.”

“We’re definitely going to miss the goals but everybody on this team, we’re together,” Stafford said of Vanek. “When anyone goes down you want to rally for the guy and make sure that you pick up where he left off… so we can move on and not dwell on things. Especially now it’s coming down to the wire where every point matters and every game matters.

“We need to bring it.”



Defenseman Andrej Sekera is nearing a return for the Sabres after missing the last 11 contests with an ankle injury.

Sekera skated with the team Monday and said he feels “pretty close to playing,” according to Ruff.

If he does rejoin the team, there is a possibility that Mike Weber could be reassigned to Portland.

“We’re just going to see how Andrej got through today and we’re still deciding.. whether we should play him or stay with our defenseman up front,” Ruff said. “Right now [Weber] is just staying with us.”

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