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Details released on memorial for Martin

The Buffalo Sabres are finalizing the speakers list for Thursday's public memorial to celebrate the life of Rick Martin, but the team unveiled more details Monday about the ceremony to be held in HSBC Arena.

Gates will open at 10 a.m., the memorial for the late French Connection star will begin at 11 and last about one hour. Seating will be general admission on the press box side of the building and a stage will be positioned in front of the player benches.

There will be free parking in the Sabres' surface lots on Perry Street. For those who can't attend, the service will be streamed live on Sabres.com.

Martin's retired No. 7 banner was lowered from the arena rafters during practice Monday and was hung at the bottom of the scoreboard in the afternoon.

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Defenseman Steve Montador (lower body) skated prior to practice Monday and tried to join some drills but left the ice early and will miss his second straight game tonight.

"The plan was for him to do as much as he could," said coach Lindy Ruff. "He got a little sore today so he came off."

Patrick Lalime (knee) took some shots prior to practice and is improving, as is Jochen Hecht (upper body). Hecht is exercising and Ruff is hopeful he can be back by this weekend. Patrick Kaleta (knee) is still not skating.

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The Sabres and ninth-place Carolina Hurricanes each have 10 games left with virtually identical schedules. Nine of each team's 10 games will be played the same night, including their April 3 meeting in Raleigh, and both clubs have four sets of back-to-back games left. Carolina, which trails Buffalo by three points, hosts Ottawa tonight.

Teams 1-6 in the Eastern Conference appear to safely be in the playoffs. In the West, however, only five points separated No. 4 Phoenix from No. 10 Calgary entering play Monday.

Said Ruff: "I don't care if you're in the West, the East, the North, the South. Right now, it's tight everywhere."

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While goaltender Ryan Miller was certainly bummed about Sunday's loss, he perked up noticeably when asked about his postgame meeting Saturday night with Dominik Hasek. Miller, remember, wore Hasek's No. 39 in college at Michigan State.

"It was my first chance [to meet Hasek] and it was really cool," Miller said. "I really looked up to him when he played here in North America. I haven't had a chance to watch any games since he moved to Russia but I think it's amazing he's still playing. He looks like he's in great shape.

"Truly one of the greatest goalies ever and to get a chance to spend a few minutes with him was nice. It was kind of funny that he was going to East Lansing [to see his son]. So he was heading from here to Michigan State and it was nice to talk to him about that."

e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com

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