BUFFALO, N.Y. | The banged-up Buffalo Sabres are getting two big pieces back Monday night against the Washington Capitals.
Jochen Hecht and Brad Boyes will both return after long injury absences to a team that has been surviving though not thriving amid plenty of bumps, breaks, bruises and more.
Hecht missed the first 20 games of the season with a concussion, played eight and then went out again with a bruised foot Dec. 9 against the Florida Panthers.
“It’s just a tough break. It’s frustrating getting injured again, but I’m out there, I do my job, and if I’ve got to block a shot, I block a shot,” Hecht said. “That happens. Obviously it’s not what I was working for, but here we go again.”
Hecht took full line rushes at Monday’s morning skate at First Niagara Center, a good indication his prospects of playing were as high as how he feels.
“I feel good out there. It takes a little bit of time to warm up, but once my foot’s warm, I feel good and strong on it,” the center said. “There’s a little bit of discomfort, a little bit of pain when I push off and go a hundred percent. … [But] I feel pretty good and confident.”
Boyes suffered a high-ankle sprain Nov. 23 against the Boston Bruins. Since he has been out of the lineup, the Sabres are 4-7-2, including three straight losses.
“It was very monotonous – same routine almost every day,” Boyes said. “But the worst part is just coming and sitting and watching and not being able to do anything.”
Buffalo goes into Monday night in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, a point behind the Caps. Getting Hecht and Boyes back is a confidence-booster if nothing else – and should help even more than that.
“Obviously up front we’ve been a little bit thin,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “Jochen back in the middle should help us against other teams’ top lines. Brad was going pretty good when he got hurt; I thought he was good on the power play. It should give us a couple stronger lines.”