Sabres could lose Spacek, Kalinin for playoff push

Updated: March 11, 2008, 2:00 PM ET
Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jaroslav Spacek could miss the rest of the regular season and Dmitri Kalinin will be out for weeks, leaving the Buffalo Sabres minus two veteran defensemen for their final playoff push.

Spacek has a chest injury and will require more tests to determine when he could return, but coach Lindy Ruff said Tuesday, "It's going to be a good period of time." As for Kalinin, Ruff said the player will miss up to two weeks with a shoulder injury.

Both were hurt during a 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Monday.

The only good news is that defenseman Henrik Tallinder, who's missed three games because of a shoulder injury, is expected to return for Buffalo's game at Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Losing Spacek and Kalinin is a serious blow to a Sabres team that's gone 1-3-2 in the past six games and is falling behind in the Eastern Conference playoff race. With 12 games left, Buffalo began Tuesday three points behind Philadelphia, which holds the eighth and final playoff berth.

Spacek has been among the Sabres' steadiest defenseman this season and leads the team's blueliners with nine goals and 31 points. Averaging a little over 23 minutes a game, he's taken on an even bigger role after the team traded All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell to San Jose two weeks ago.

Kalinin has been inconsistent, but is still averaging more than 17 minutes of ice time.

Defenseman Nathan Paetsch expects to play despite still feeling sore after being checked hard into the boards by New York's Sean Avery in the second period Monday.

The Sabres bolstered their defense by recalling Mike Weber from AHL Rochester. Weber has no points in four games with the Sabres this season, and hasn't been with the team since early November.

Ruff hasn't ruled out the drastic measure of giving forward Jason Pominville an occasional shift on defense.

"Our identity's going to have to be the underdog category now, and battle through adversity," Ruff said.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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