The Buffalo Sabres have tugged Daniel Briere's leash. The feisty center has been jumping at the chance to return before the Olympics, but the team has adopted a more guarded approach.
Briere on Tuesday met with the doctor who performed his sports hernia surgery a month ago in Montreal, where the Sabres were playing the Canadiens. Dr. David Mulder advised Briere not to be hasty.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said Mulder's advice "leads me down the trail of 'Don't be foolish, and don't play [Briere] before the break.' I think if I did and something happened I would really feel foolish."
The Olympic break begins Monday. The Sabres have three more games until then: tonight against the Canadiens in HSBC Arena; Saturday at home versus the Florida Panthers; Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes in the RBC Center. Then the Sabres are off until March 1.
"I'm disappointed, but I think it would probably be the smarter decision at this point to wait for after the break," Briere said.
"I'm in the middle. One side of me is saying 'I want to play. I want to see where I'm standing. I'd like to get a game before the break.' But the other side is telling me 'The team is doing well. I get an extra three weeks to fully heal. The team is going to need the bodies for after the break and the playoffs.' "
Briere, despite playing only 24 games, still is tied for fourth in goals with 14. He also has nine assists.
Top goal scorer Ales Kotalik left Wednesday's practice early with a bum foot after taking a shot in Tuesday night's overtime victory. Ruff expects the hard-shooting winger to play tonight.
"He should be fine," Ruff said. "He got hit right on the laces, but I don't suspect it will keep him out."
Rookie center Paul Gaustad was held out of practice because he's still recovering from a virus. He didn't play in Montreal.
"Better, but still not up to speed," Ruff said of Gaustad. "He's got the same bug that's been kind of going through the team, the sinus, the sore throat, the temperature. You name it, he's got it."
Sabres defenseman Teppo Numminen has more assists than Jimmy Thomson had for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1947-48, but Numminen won't officially own the dubious NHL record for most points without a goal until he plays his last game of the season. Numminen, who recorded his 29th and 30th assists Tuesday, still has 29 chances to avoid ignominy.
The number of players who have surpassed Thomson's point total before scoring a goal over the past 54 years is unknown.
Word circulating around the Pengrowth Saddledome is that Calgary Flames video replay judge Doug Young has been fired or at least suspended.
Young determined Flames defenseman Robyn Regehr had scored a legitimate goal Jan. 21 against the Sabres. Regehr obviously kicked it in, breaking a second-period tie in a game the Flames went on to win.
Young hasn't worked any of the three home games since Calgary returned from a five-game road trip last week.