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Briere sent home because of abdominal injury

While his teammates enjoyed Tuesday off with South Florida diversions such as sunbathing and tennis, Buffalo Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere was back in Western New York, trying to figure out what's wrong with him.

Briere tonight will miss his 10th game out of the past 13 when the Sabres play the Florida Panthers in the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla. Daniel Paille was recalled from Rochester and will make his NHL debut.

Briere is on hold because of a nagging and perplexing abdominal injury. He was sent home before Monday's shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers to have an MRI and other tests performed.

"He has received an injection in the area, and we'll see how he reacts and see how it goes from there," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We'll probably know within a few days if he feels a lot better or feels the same."

Ruff reiterated the team's stance that Briere does not have a sports hernia, the injury that will keep winger J.P. Dumont sidelined until after the Olympic break.

"My understanding from the doctors is that it's not," Ruff said. "I have the utmost confidence in our doctors. I know it's been rumored, but hopefully we're not going down that road. Does that mean Danny isn't getting one? I can't answer that. Maybe he has to be evaluated again. We'll just keep trying to figure out the best plan of action."

Briere missed eight games in a row before returning Dec. 11. He played well, registering two goals and one assist in three games before the injury became too much to bear. His teammates are bracing for the worst.

"To see Danny struggling to play tells you something big is there," Sabres goalie Martin Biron said. "He has played through a lot of things. To know how dedicated he is to this locker room, you know something bad is going on.

"It's just a tough situation to lose a guy like him, but guys who've had a chance to play in his absence have done a good job. We just need to build off that."

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Sabres winger Mike Grier is hurting. The rugged veteran was cross-checked in the ribs Friday, but he doesn't want to come out of the lineup.

"Mike Grier is just gutting it out," Ruff said. "He's nowhere near 100 percent, but he wants to keep playing.

"With a veteran player like that, he knows his body as well as anybody. In my case I let him make that call. If it's affecting his play I will make that call, but I thought in Philly he did fine in the game."

Ruff reported Dmitri Kalinin is close to returning from a broken right pinky finger, but the defenseman likely will stay out of tonight's lineup.

"The feeling is right now we'll just wait," Ruff said. "The more days he gets the better it feels."

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Paille will skate on the fourth line with center Paul Gaustad and winger Adam Mair.

The 20th pick of the 2002 draft was summoned on the recommendation of Rochester coach Randy Cunneyworth.

Paille missed the first chunk of the season with a broken jaw suffered in training camp and then cracked ribs. He had three goals, four assists and a plus-5 rating in 11 games.

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As expected, forward Jochen Hecht will join American center Chris Drury in Italy for the Olympics. Germany announced its roster Wednesday, and Hecht was one of seven NHLers on the squad, which is led by Washington goalie Olaf Kolzig.

e-mail: tgraham@buffnews.com

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