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Connolly is exercising again

Tim Connolly is riding a stationary bike again, which is good news for the overall health of the concussed center. But his trek back to the NHL is at as much of a standstill as the machine he's on.

Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said Tuesday that Connolly has resumed light exercises, something the 25-year-old had been discouraged from doing because of the resulting setbacks.

"Tim has actually had a better week, which is encouraging," Ruff said in Continental Airlines Arena. "He's doing some light exercise and feels better. That is a big step in the right direction because last week . . . we wouldn't have anticipated him being anywhere close to starting."

Connolly is doing the exercises in order to get his heart rate up, Ruff said. The activities can include biking and swimming, and Connolly could even skate if he wanted.

The news, however, is tempered by the fact Connolly is still experiencing headaches. The pain indicates Connolly is still suffering from the hit to the head by Ottawa's Peter Schaefer in early May. There is no timetable for Connolly's return, though Ruff remains hopeful the center can come back before the end of the season.

"He was around at practice, and actually his spirits seemed a lot more positive than they had in the past," Ruff said. "I think he had conceded the fact that it was going to be a long year, and I think now it's turned and he's a lot more upbeat.

"I think he's got a chance."

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Defenseman Henrik Tallinder was scheduled to have X-rays on his broken forearm Tuesday. Tallinder suffered his injury Oct. 26, and the initial diagnosis was he'd be out six to eight weeks. Tallinder will hit the seven-week point Thursday, when the Sabres face the Florida Panthers in HSBC Arena.

"He's right on schedule. He'd like to be ahead of schedule, but the doctors won't let him," Ruff said. "As soon as they allow him to start stickhandling, he wants to get back at it. I would anticipate that could happen as early as probably the end of this week."

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Three Sabres held on to their starting slots in the latest update of the All-Star voting, and only one player in the Eastern Conference is more popular than goaltender Ryan Miller.

Miller has 339,086 votes, trailing only Pittsburgh forward Sidney Crosby (520,068). Miller leads second-place goaltender Martin Brodeur by 78,413 votes. The two stared across the ice from each other Tuesday when the Sabres defeated the New Jersey Devils, 3-2.

Brian Campbell remained second among defensemen with 329,564 votes, just 2,657 behind Toronto's Bryan McCabe.

Daniel Briere holds the final starting spot among forwards with 284,131 votes, good for third place behind Crosby and Washington's Alexander Ovechkin (289,470). Other Sabres forwards in the top 15 are Maxim Afinogenov (fourth, 271,667), Chris Drury (eighth, 198,342) and write-in candidate Thomas Vanek (14th, 113,319).

"It's nice to see," Ruff said. "It's not a place we've been before, so I think it's great for the players."

The three forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender with the most votes are elected as starters, and the rest of the team is picked by the league. Voting can only be done online at NHL.com.

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The Sabres and WGR-AM 550 agreed on a five-year contract that allows the station to continue broadcasting the team's games. The Sabres are in their second season with WGR, and the new deal carries the partnership through the 2011-12 season.

e-mail: jvogl@buffnews.com

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