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Ennis injury kicks off line changes

Tyler Ennis had a Samson-like moment Saturday and it'll be a spell before he's healthy enough to be a difference-maker in the Buffalo Sabres' lineup.

The left winger, who scored 20 goals as a rookie last year, will be sidelined with an ankle injury. He suffered the sprain early in Saturday night's loss at Tampa Bay when he slid hard into the goal after being tapped from behind by Ryan Malone while driving to the net. Ennis' left foot landed flush on the post leading to an injury coach Lindy Ruff said will keep him sidelined "week to week."

When asked if it was a high ankle sprain, Ruff said: "It's an ankle sprain, so it'll be a bit of time [before he returns]. We'll just have to wait and see."

Ennis wasn't available for comment.

Ennis has no points this season, a seven-game slump that prompted the 5-foot-9, 157-pound 22-year-old to make the drastic decision to shed his signature locks for a more respectable hair-do last Friday.

Ennis played all 82 games last year and finished as the Sabres' fourth-leading scorer with 49 points.

He provided a boost during the postseason in 2010 as a late-season callup with his speed and playmaking ability, sharing the team lead with four points in a six-game loss to the Bruins. He had two goals and four points in last year's seven-game first-round loss to the Flyers.

"I'm not sure how long he'll be out but he's a good player and guys have got to step up around him, try to fill that role," winger Nathan Gerbe said. "Everybody has to step up as a team."

"[We'll] make adjustments," Ruff said. "We have some pieces we're going to switch around. There are guys who can fit into that role. Ville [Leino] can move over [from center to left wing]. We're going to try different things."

Leino skated on the left wing Monday with center Derek Roy and right winger Drew Stafford.

"Actually, Ville had mentioned that he'd like to go to the wing, so it's funny how it works," said Ruff of the team's offseason acquisition. "You'd like to find a line and keep them together, that would be the thing that you would hope most. I'd like to see Roy, Leino and Stafford play together for a while and gain some chemistry. I think that's the most important part. It isn't position to position, it's leaving three individuals together for a while, and they develop some chemistry."

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Another solution could be shifting Jochen Hecht into Ennis' spot. However, that's a decision that won't be revealed until today. Hecht has been trying to recover from a concussion and the Sabres have been taking a cautious approach toward re-inserting the veteran with a history of head injuries into the lineup. All the pertinent parties were expected to gather late Monday to formulate a decision.

Hecht practiced on a line with Brad Boyes and Cody McCormick on Monday but said afterwards he was just filling in for the absent Ennis and Paul Gaustad, who received a maintenance day.

"I'm moving in the right direction," Hecht said. "I'm getting better. I had a good week last week. I just have to hope things keep progressing to the point where I feel 100 percent comfortable to go out there.

"It would be nice to get in there [with the team short-handed], but I have to look at the big picture. I want to come back for the rest of the year not a game here or a game there and battle this the whole year."

Although he doesn't know the exact number of days, Hecht said it's been a while since he's had his last concussion symptom.

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The chance of receiving playing time on the power play wasn't the only reason forward Brad Boyes was feeling pretty good Monday. The veteran reached a career milestone last Saturday and will hit another one tonight against Tampa Bay in First Niagara Center.

Boyes played his 500th career game Saturday in the 3-0 loss. In an odd twist, he will be playing his 500th straight NHL game tonight.

Confused? Don't be.

Boyes suited up for one game during the 2003-04 season, making his NHL debut with the San Jose Sharks two days before being included in a three-team trade that saw him get shipped to Boston. He went from NHL to AHL after the deal. He also played all of 2004-05 in Providence during the NHL lockout before starting his consecutive games streak Oct. 5, 2005.

"It's weird because even between that part I didn't miss an NHL game but I guess I did miss games because I was in the minors," Boyes said of the unique back-to-back milestones.

"I'm pretty proud of that. The biggest thing is you want to play every game and knock on wood, I've been lucky to be able to do that so far. I want to be able to continue to do that. I got my 500th [NHL game] in Tampa and didn't get the right result. The consecutive [streak], hopefully we get a win."

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Hall of Famer Brett Hull probably won't ever be a fan favorite in these parts, what with his role in "No Goal" during Game Six of the 1999 Stanley Cup finals.

He likely won't be making any friends in these parts anytime soon since he recently brought up that painful memory with his newly created Twitter account (2ndBestHull).

Hull, the son of Hall of Famer Bobby Hull, recently had an avatar (Twitter-account mug shot) with a Brett Hull is a Cheater T-shirt created by Born in Buffalo, a company owned by Dave Hassett.

Included was the following tweet: "New pic for all my friends in buffalo xoxo."

He has since changed his avatar photo.

email: mrodriguez@buffnews.com