Jochen Hecht, Tomas Vokoun

Sabres getting healthier, Hecht and Boyes return tonight

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It’s rare to get good news in Buffalo these days but today is one of those magical days.

Lindy Ruff made note this morning that both Jochen Hecht and Brad Boyes would return to the Sabres lineup tonight. He also noted that Thomas Vanek would stay in the lineup as well after missing part of their last game with an injury. Buffalo has been trotting out a host of minor league players to fill out ranks of late, but the days of doing that are dwindling as guys start getting over their ailments.

Hecht has been out with a foot injury suffered after taking a puck off it while Boyes has been out with an ankle injury. Hecht works out best defending against opposing top scorers while Boyes is a streaky scorer and power play helper.

Vanek staying in the lineup means the Sabres don’t lose their top scorer. For a team that’s having a hard time keeping opponents out of the net, losing the guy that keeps you in games would be a vicious double whammy.

Now if they can find a way to get Ryan Miller locked back in and find a defenseman to play his bodyguard, the Sabres might be a team to contend with this year.

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks
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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two:

Add Lecavalier to list of expensive Flyers healthy scratches

Vincent Lecavalier

Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?

While lineups are obviously subject to change, notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.

Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.

That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”

The quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.

Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.

It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.