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VANEK COULD RETURN IN BOSTON SERIES

Sunday, 04.18.2010 / 1:05 PM / News
By Erin Pollina  - Sabres.com
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VANEK COULD RETURN IN BOSTON SERIES
Buffalo Sabres' Thomas Vanek (26) of Austria is hooked by Boston Bruins' Johnny Boychuk (55) during the first period of a first-round NHL playoff hockey game in Buffalo, N.Y., Saturday, April 17, 2010. Vanek was injured on the play. The Bruins won 5-3. (AP Photo/ David Duprey)
Don’t rule Thomas Vanek out just yet.

Although the winger is doubtful for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in Boston on Monday night, Head Coach Lindy Ruff reported that his lower body injury may not be as bad as first believed.

In fact, he may even be available during the ongoing series with the Bruins.

Vanek was hurt during the first period of Saturday’s 5-3 loss to Boston after getting tangled up with defenseman Johnny Boychuck and smashing into the end boards. Ruff called the play a “two-handed” slash that caused Vanek to hobble to the Buffalo bench and immediately exit the game.

However, after further evaluation, the Sabres received good news from the medical staff according to Ruff; ‘the damage isn’t severe.’

“When a player comes off like that you obviously think the worst. That was my initial thought,” Ruff said. “But then after the game, finding out after he had been looked at, I was pleasantly surprised.”

Vanek will make the trip to Boson with the team today. If he is not ready in the time for Game 3, the Sabres can either put Drew Stafford back in the lineup – who has been recovering from concussion-like symptoms – or recall a player from the AHL Portland Pirates.

Stafford has been skating with the team, but has not yet been cleared to play.

“He will be tested later today,” Ruff said. “He won’t fly with us, he’ll be tested and if he’s cleared he’ll be available to play. But then we’re dealing again with another player that is going to step in without really [conditioning]. He’s had one practice… no physical contact of any sort. The obvious answer is that he’ll play if he’s cleared. Then the question is, can he ramp it up enough inside of a playoff series?”

Stay tuned to sabres.com for an update Monday, following the team’s morning skate. The Sabres look to regain the series lead in Boston. Game time is at 7 p.m. at TD Garden.

To see Ruff's full interview, click here.

[UPDATE: APRIL 19, 3:45 PM: DREW STAFFORD WILL RETURN TO THE LINEUP FOR GAME 3. HEAD COACH LINDY RUFF SAID THOMAS VANEK'S STATUS HASN'T CHANGED - "NO STEP BACK BUT NO PROGRESS."]

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