Sekera also missed practice, but since he played the 3rd period last night my hunch is it's more precautionary than serious.
Note that because we have 6 healthy D-men, they probably won't use a callup on an American so Weber is likely to play.
IF Sekera is indeed more serious and misses the Pens game, then we could call a D-man from Rochester (Brennan or McNabb most likely). I might lean towards Brennan to add another mobile D-man to the lineup.
So, what should the lineup look like?
OPTION A: MINIMAL DISRUPTION OF PAIRS
OPTION B: WEBER-REGEHR TANDEM
OPTION C: SEKERA-WEBER TANDEM
OPTION D: LEOPOLD-WEBER TANDEM
OPTION E: OTHER (list it)
I don't like any of them personally...probably option A the best.
Unless Sekera is seriously hurt - and Ruff's postgame comments indicated that he "was OK" - I would almost guarantee that Ruff will go with Option A. He rarely, if ever, changes things up during hot streaks and Sekera's presence has made Regehr play better, while Myers and Leopold haven't been bad as a pairing either.
Without knowing how long Ehrhoff will be out, I'd imagine that Ruff wants Weber to fill in for the duration and then just reunite the 3 pairings he had when Ehrhoff returns.
Ruff should never use a Weber-Regehr pairing again - everytime he has, the two have imploded under pressure and each played poorly. As many have noted before, their styles are so similar that it actually backfires when teaming them together.
With only 5 games left, I think you go with Option A. A Sulzer-Weber pairing scares the everliving hell out of me, but if we can keep the hot streak going by maintaining the same pairs and riding Leo-Myers and Sekera-Regehr into the ground, you buy yourself some rest.
We still need every possible point until / if we clinch. Once we do I think you settle on 8th unless we're already overtaking Ottawa and let some of these guys rest. We have two weeks before a potential playoff opener. Hopefully if we make it to that point Ehrhoff is back. If we make it there and Hoff is still hurt (which, frankly, seems likely), then I think you stick Weber back on the bench and play McNabb.
On that note, can someone remind me how the recall process works at this point in the regular season as relates McNabb? I know we can't emergency recall him as we still have 6 healthy D.
Leo-Myers matches up with Crosby. Sekera-Regehr matches up with Malkin. The third-pairing gets the scraps.
Weber looks best when paired with Sekera. I think any of those lines can hold their own with Toronto's current forward corps.
I don't see the pairings changing game to game like thy, though...if they change, it'll likely be an in-game adjustment that would carry over. But I don't see us game planning our pairings differently for different opponents - not that I'd at all be against it, but I just don't recall it ever happening.
Mike Weber will fill Ehrhoff's spot, returning to the lineup after being a healthy scratch the past four games.
Ehrhoff's importance was evident earlier this season when he missed 11 games with a rib injury. The Sabres went 2-7-2 without him. Buffalo has gone 19-5-5 since, with Ehrhoff's return coming at a time when the Sabres also welcomed back defenceman Robyn Regehr and centre Tyler Ennis from injury.
Sekera was given the day off from practice Wednesday, but is expected to play against Pittsburgh.
I think I'd have to go with A even though I don't particularly like it. Seems like the least problematic. I was thinking about a Rej-Myers pair but it leaves the other pairings far too slow. Bank on the top 2 pairs carrying the load and get some shifts out of Sulzer-Weber once in a while. Being at home should make that easier Friday to keep them away from the Crosby and Malkin lines for the most part. I prefer matching against the Pens like Zip listed.
A Sulzer-Weber pairing won't be bad as the 3rd tandem. Weber's horrible +/- is mainly due to playing bigger minutes on a 2nd pairing, filling in for multiple injuries while the team played awful in Dec-Jan. Sulzer is actually fairly mobile so teaming him with Weber is worth keeping the other pairings as they were. Sulzer could even fill in for Ehrhoff on the PP, so given the teams' overall better play, I don't see this as too big of an obstacle as long as Ehrhoff is not gone long-term and another injury pops up.