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Sabres notebook Russian team snubs Kalinin

Chalk this up as a bad week for Dmitri Kalinin. On Friday the Buffalo Sabres defenseman missed his sixth straight game and learned he was omitted from Russia's Olympic roster.

Winger Maxim Afinogenov made the Russian squad, giving the Sabres five Olympians. Previously named were forwards Chris Drury of the United States and Jochen Hecht of Germany and Finnish defensemen Teppo Numminen and Toni Lydman.

Kalinin had been a mainstay for Russia in international competition. He skated for his homeland in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and the World Championships in '02, '03, '04 and '05.

He's having a substandard campaign with one goal and 10 assists in 24 games. He has been a healthy scratch on occasion and has been out of the lineup the past 10 days with a broken right pinky finger.

"It's still pretty tender if it gets bumped or when he's shooting, but he's getting there" Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said before Friday night's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the St. Pete Times Forum. "If we were really pressed we could activate him, but it's not something we're real comfortable with right now."

Kalinin's Olympic hopes weren't aided by Alexei Zhitnik, whom Kalinin was supposed to replace as Buffalo's No. 1 defenseman this season.

Zhitnik had declined to skate for Russia in previous international tournaments because he wanted to represent his native Ukraine. International Ice Hockey Federation rules prohibit players from switching allegiances. Zhitnik, a member of the old Unified Team, won silver for Russia in the 1998 Albertville Games.

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Rookie forward Daniel Paille became the 29th player the Sabres have used this season when he made his NHL debut in Thursday night's loss to the Florida Panthers.

"You'd be hard pressed to find another team that can dig that deep and find another two-way player who can contribute," Ruff said.

Two Sabres forwards (Paul Gaustad, Thomas Vanek) made their first NHL roster out of training camp. Two more (Derek Roy, Jason Pominville) were recalled from the Rochester Americans and have become regulars. Brought up for a cup of coffee before Paille was forward Chris Thorburn.

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A moment of silence was held before the national anthem for former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy, whose 18-year-old son was found dead in a Tampa apartment Thursday morning. Local authorities have ruled James Dungy's death a suicide.

e-mail: tgraham@buffnews.com

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