The Buffalo Sabres decided not to make a major move at the NHL trade deadline with the hope they would be able get Dmitri Kalinin back to the form he showed two years ago as their top defenseman.
He's not all the way back, but the Sabres believe he's finally skating in the right direction.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff suggested he might have shaken Kalinin's confidence early in the season. Kalinin went into a funk, missed 16 games after suffering separate injuries and never regained his game. Buffalo will spend the remaining 13 games trying to fix Kalinin mentally and hoping his ability follows.
"His confidence level is improving," assistant coach Brian McCutcheon said. "It's not at the level that we would like or Dmitri would like, I'm sure, but I think it's improving. Over the eight-game winning streak after the Olympic break, you could see it getting better and better every game. You saw flashes of Dmitri that we saw a couple years ago."
Kalinin could be a key factor as they enter the playoffs, but his lack of consistency has been apparent. He was benched for part of the second period Wednesday against Carolina, the third straight game in which he played less than 15 minutes. He entered Friday's game against Ottawa plus-4 over his previous eight games.
"I have some things to work on," Kalinin said. "I think it's normal. I just want to get playing again. Maybe it doesn't look like it, but I feel comfortable out there. You just keep working hard to get there."
Senators General Manager John Muckler wasn't worried about Dominik Hasek's injury problems, especially with backup Ray Emery playing so well. Emery was 10-1-1 immediately following the Olympic break.
Hasek has a history of groin problems and has not skated in equipment since suffering the injury in Italy. Muckler expected The Dominator to be back for the playoffs and said the injury might have been a blessing.
"We're not rushing him back," Muckler said. "It's kind of a good thing in a way that he's not playing. He's getting rested. He's going to have all kinds of strength when he does come back. I think it's going to help him to get through the playoffs. We're probably in a better position now than if he played."
Brian Campbell has had an assortment of nicknames over the years based on his surname and appearance. His teammates called him "Soupy" as is often the case with anyone named Campbell. For a while, they called him "Rusty," fitting given his red hair.
And now there's this one: "The Skating Tomato."
"Honestly," Campbell said with a laugh, "I really don't know what to say."
Right winger Mike Grier pinned it on the defenseman after half-pipe snowboarder Shaun White, the Flying Tomato, became an international star at the Olympics. White is known as a free- spirit, Campbell a smooth-skating freewheeler.
"He looks a little like Shaun White, and he likes to wheel around full speed, so I think it kind of fits," Grier said. "He's a good guy, Soupy, he takes things well. I figured we would be a little original, a little different."