Schaefer doesn't think hit still an issue

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

Tim Connolly's head problems seemed to be behind him.

Then he ran into Peter Schaefer.

"Next game," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said that May 8, 2006 night when asked when his gifted forward would return from a mammoth hit by the Senators winger. "Next game."

As it turned out, Connolly barely made it back for the next season.

Concussion symptoms similar to those that had haunted him previously in his career kept the 26-year-old out of the Buffalo lineup not only through the rest of last spring's playoffs, but also all but the last two games of the 2006-07 regular season.

Back from the "long-term" injury reserve list, Connolly scored one goal in that brief tune-up for the post-season. He is goal-less with seven assists in Buffalo's 11 games in these playoffs.

"He's a great player," Schaefer said yesterday of Connolly. "He's a great addition to their lineup. He adds a lot to their team."

That he is. Connolly had five goals and six assists in seven playoff outings before he was levelled by Schaefer in the neutral zone during Game 2 of Buffalo's series with the Senators.

"Marty Havlat got hammered on the wall and I was pretty much getting ready to throw a big hit at whoever had the puck," Schaefer recalled. "Connolly is a skill player, but he cut through the middle with his head down ... at the last second he saw me. I didn't get all of him, I kind of went over top of him a bit. But I caught him."

Schaefer also says that, while he doesn't expect any retribution, hard hitting should be expected during this series.

"Hitting, being physical, is a big part of the game now," said Schaefer. "Especially this time of year. There is so much more of it than in the regular season."


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