Thursday for Sabres: Vanek questionable, Stafford set to return

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The Buffalo Sabres presented some lineup updates on Wednesday as they prepare for Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers.

The first is that injury-cursed star Thomas Vanek is questionable for that game. He’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body issue. If that’s too vague, head coach Ron Rolston provided a little more detail, calling it “just a muscle strain.”

Moving on, the Sabres plan on dressing Drew Stafford after he sat out two games as a healthy scratch.

No doubt about it, the 2013 season’s been a rough one for the 27-year-old winger, although one can argue that bad luck has at least something to do with it. He’s connected on just 5.3 percent of the shots he’s fired, less than half of his career rate of 11.6 percent.

He’d still probably have mediocre numbers, but they’d at least look a little better if things were going normally.

The Sabres might have motivation that goes beyond winning by having Stafford suit up, at he could theoretically fetch something in a trade (even if he isn’t demanding one).

Blues’ Shattenkirk suffers lower-body injury

Kevin Shattenkirk
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This hasn’t been the best night for St. Louis sports fans.

Obviously, the MLB’s Cardinals getting bounced from the playoffs is a bigger deal, but the Blues face bad news, too.

While they’re currently leading the Calgary Flames by a score of 4-3, they’ll need to hang on without Kevin Shattenkirk, whose night is over thanks to a lower-body injury.

There’s no word yet on how severe the issue might be.

Naturally, the Blues must hope that it’s minor, as Shattenkirk is one of the NHL’s truly underrated assets on the blueline.

Stephanie (@MyRegularFace) tracked down a moment when the injury may have happened:

It’s not all rosy for the Flames, either, as Lance Bouma suffered an injury as well.

Measure of revenge? Red Wings bottle Lightning


In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.

For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.

Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.

Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.

They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.

Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.