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Buffalo Sabres’ general manager Darcy Regier had his hands full right up until Thursday’s NHL trade deadline. Earlier in the season it seemed as if they would be ok to stand pat going into the playoffs. But a string of unexpected injuries has pushed Regier’s hand a bit.

Tim Connolly’s concussion from a clean, open-ice check from Ottawa Senators forward Peter Schaeferinin in Game 2 of last year’s 2nd round playoff series against Ottawa put him on the long-term reserve injured list and his timetable for return has been delayed several times due to post-concussion symptoms and a stress fracture just below his knee.

The injury bug began this season on February 8th in a game against the Ottawa Senators when Sabres’ center Paul Gaustad was cut on his upper right ankle by a skate blade. Gaustad ‘s injury required surgery and he will miss the remainder of the season for Buffalo. On February 10th, Jaroslav Spacek broke his left hand in a game against the Calgary Flames. Spacek’s injury will put him out for a few weeks. Maxim Afinogenov fell on his wrist in a game on February 15th against the Edmonton Oilers, breaking his scaphoid bone in his shooting wrist. He underwent successful surgery to insert a screw into his broken left wrist and will be out of action for between 6-8 weeks. The Sabres are hoping that Afinogenov will be back in their lineup for the playoffs. In the same game as the Afinogenov injury, young prospect Jiri Novotny rolled his ankle attempting to check an Edmonton player. Novotny was playing his fourth game after coming back from an earlier ankle sprain which cost him six games. Ales Kotalik left February 17th shootout loss to the Boston Bruins in the second period due to a sprained right MCL and will miss four-six weeks with the injury. Daniel Paille broke a finger in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on February 20th and will be out for two-to-three weeks. On February 22nd, Buffalo Sabres’ co-captain Chris Drury was the recipient of a questionable hit from Ottawa’s Chris Neil which left his head in bandages. Drury suffered a concussion on the play, but is now feeling better and is likely to return for the Sabres’ game Wednesday March 7th against the Colorado Avalanche.

Regier was looking to make a move, but because most of his injured players will be returning by the playoffs, he was restricted with what he could do because of salary cap restrictions. One salary which was weighing down Buffalo’s flexibility was backup goaltender Marty Biron. Biron was to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and was unlikely to remain a Sabre in 2008 and was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for a second round draft pick in 2007. Expect Philadelphia to offer him an extension higher than the $2.2 million he is currently earning to be sure not to lose him to free agency in this offseason. The Biron deal freed up some cap money so Buffalo could acquire some talent which they did in trading for Dainius Zubrus from the Washington Capitals for Jiri Novotny and Buffalo’s first round draft pick. Zubrus figures to be used in many different roles on the Sabres. Coach Lindy Ruff said that Zubrus is best down the middle, but he will not hesitate to use him in other positions as he sees fit.

Hopefully, these moves put Buffalo in the best position possible to make a run at the Stanley Cup championship this year.

With Maxim Afinogenov out for six to eight weeks, it seemed obvious who the Buffalo Sabres would choose to shoot in theri overtime shootout. The obvious choices would be Daniel Briere, Thomas Vanek, & Ales Kotalik. When Kotalik didn’t come out to shoot and instead was newcomer Drew Stafford shot, I was a little bit confused. After the Sabres sent out eight shooters and Kotalik was still nowhere to be found, it was clear there was something wrong.

Apparently I wasn’t paying too much attention during the game because he left the game during the second period due to a sprained MCL. It seems he will miss at least four to six weeks. He had been having a good season thus far with 14 goals and 36 points in 59 games.

Buffalo Sabre’s winger Maxim Afinogenov fell on his wrist, in their home game against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night, breaking his scaphoid bone in his shooting wrist. Afinogenov has 23 goals, 34 assists, and a plus-17 rating this season. He already had more goals then in any other season in his career and was on pace for his best season by far. Instead he will miss the majority, if not all, of the remaining games in the season. His lightning speed, excellent puck control, and quick bullet shot will certainly be missed by the Sabres. We can only hope he will return for the playoffs. The main reason why Buffalo didn’t win the Stanley Cup in 2006 was due to injuries.

The night of Tuesday January 30th, 2007 the Buffalo Sabres squared off against the Boston Bruins at home coming off of a three game losing streak, which tied their season long. Martin Biron, the Sabre’s backup goaltender, minded Buffalo’s net, giving a slumping Ryan Miller a rest.

The Sabres simply outclassed the Bruins from the start of the game. Buffalo left winger Thomas Vanek started off the scoring on the power play two minutes and fifteen seconds into the game, with assists from Jason Pominville and Maxim Afinogenov, and Buffalo didn’t look back.

Buffalo center and the NHL All-Star Game MVP, Daniel Briere, in his first home game since the All-Star Game, scored his second career hat trick in the win. Biron put in a 25 save effort, while winning his first game since January 6th. This was Buffalo’s sixth straight home win against Boston.

I admittedly didn’t watch much of the NHL All-Star Game, I missed the 1st period because I was at the Buffalo Bulls basketball game against the Mid-American Conference leader, the Toledo Rockets, and I had the remainder of the game on in the background while I worked. I found it interesting that throughout the 3rd period of the game the announcers were constantly talking to Dallas Stars’ goaltender, Marty Turco, while he minded the Western Conference’s net. It was pretty humorous to hear him in mid-conversation when a sudden offensive rush quickly ended his talkative nature or when he told Ottawa Senator winger, Dany Heatley, to go somewhere else to celebrate after scoring and being congratulated by his teammates in front of the net about two minutes into the period.

After the conclusion of the game, I was surprised to hear Buffalo Sabres center, Daniel Briere, being announced the Most Valuable Player of the game after scoring 1 goal and 4 assists (for 5 points) in a losing effort as the Eastern Conference All-Stars lost to the Western Conference All-Stars, 12-9.