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Thomas Vanek out, Drew Stafford in for Game 3

Boston Bruins v Buffalo Sabres - Game Two

of the Buffalo Sabres the Boston Bruins in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HSBC Arena on April 17, 2010 in Buffalo, New York.

Rick Stewart

Thomas Vanek is not expected to play in tonight’s Game 3 match against the Boston Bruins but it’s not all bad news for the Buffalo Sabres. Solid winger Drew Stafford is supposed to return after suffering from concussion symptoms, the Boston Herald reports.

The Sabres may be missing their best goalscorer in Thomas Vanek, out with a lower body injury, but they’ll be getting back another pretty good player in Drew Stafford tonight. Stafford, who had 14-20-34 totals in 71 regular season games, missed the first two games with a concussion he suffered late in the regular season. He had failed a neuro-psych test prior to Saturday’s Game 2, but he passed one yesterday and he’ll be in the lineup tonight, most likely skating with Tim Connolly and Tyler Ennis.

Coach Lindy Ruff said Vanek, meanwhile, has made no progress with his injury, believed to be a left foot or ankle.

Vanek is a more valuable player, being that he is the team’s leading goal scorer. Still, having a decent scoring threat such as Stafford come back should help fill some of the gap left by their ailing sniper. The Sabres seemed to fall apart once Vanek was injured, though the odd scoring outbursts allowed by Ryan Miller and Co. might have happened anyway.

Still, if the Sabres want to make a legitimate run for the Stanley Cup, they’ll need Vanek back. We’ll keep an eye on the winger’s condition going forward.