Given a night to reconsider, Lindy Ruff reverted to the usual mind games. After Sunday's loss, Ruff had said that Derek Roy would be returning to the lineup for Game Seven. "He's got to be ready," he said.

But come Monday morning, Ruff was back in full playoff coach mode. When pressed for information, provide as little as possible. If someone asks if the sky is blue, go with green. If there's a sliver of doubt about a player's health, plead ignorance.

"I don't even know if he's playing yet," Ruff said when asked what he expected from Roy tonight. "So I don't know what to expect."

But you said Sunday he was playing, someone reminded the coach. "Well, I was hopeful," Ruff said. "But I don't know. We'll see."

He might as well keep the Flyers guessing, for what that's worth. I doubt Peter Laviolette lost sleep over the matter. Ruff can play coy all he likes. Roy is playing tonight. The veteran center is coming back from a four-month quad injury, just in time to help his injury-riddled team in Game Seven of a Stanley Cup series.

Even the most hardy fan might be losing faith after watching the Sabres lose a potential clinching Game Six, along with center Tim Connolly. It has to stir painful memories of the 2006 conference finals, when they were down four of their top six defensemen for Game Seven against Carolina.

If you're looking for any sign of hope, how about this: Heading into that seventh game in '06, the Sabres lost defenseman Jay McKee to a leg infection. Tonight, in their first Game Seven since that deciding game, they will be getting Roy back.

So maybe this is the hockey gods' way of making amends for that freakish run of injuries to Buffalo's defensemen five years ago. They might get Jochen Hecht back, too.

The timing for Roy's return couldn't be better, that's for sure. It's hard to say how effective he'll be after four months on the shelf. But the Sabres are perilously thin up front. During the crucial moments of Game Six, their three centers were Rob Niedermayer, Paul Gaustad and Matt Ellis.