March 9, 2014 - 4:00 PM
By Mike Harrington
Topic No. 1 around the Blackhawks early this afternoon was Patrick Kane and the trip back to Buffalo. But an interesting sidebar topic was the trade of Ryan Miller to St. Louis and what that means for the Hawks going forward.
Chicago enters tonight's game four points behind St. Louis in the Central Division and the Blues have a game in hand. The Blackhawks have an NHL-high 14 overtime losses, going 5-8 in the shootout and 0-6 in overtime-deciding goals, so they've blown a lot of points that way.
And now St. Louis adds Miller, who is 4-0 with a 1.50 GAA and .933 save percentage with the Blues. And he's only faced 90 shots in the four games -- or less than 23 a game.
"He's certainly a top goalie in the game. He's always tough to beat, seems to play well against us," said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. "St. Louis helped themselves in the net and he's played well since he's been there. It's something that makes our division even tougher and stronger and that race to be in first place is going to be challenging for us. Our ambition is to be try to be first but when you've got a goalie like him, it's going to make you a better team."
"He's been a big part of their team for a long time," Patrick Kane of Miller and the Sabres. "I watched him when I was growing up and they had their long runs deep into the playoffs. He's a great goaltender and a great person for this city and organization. I got to know him at the Olympics and it's going to be tougher facing him in our division and in our conference."
The Blues can take over first place overall in the NHL with a win tonight over Minnesota but Miller won't face old mates Jason Pominville, Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick. He's getting the night off and Brian Elliott is starting in his place.
March 9, 2014 - 1:53 PM
By Mike Harrington
Fans are asked to leave First Niagara Center when the Sabres' morning skate is completed, the norm in most NHL buildings. But with Patrick Kane in the fourth homecoming game of his career, a few hundred specators were allowed to stay to watch the pride of South Buffalo and the Chicago Blackhawks work out in advance of tonight's game.
"I've never seen that many people in a morning skate and I'm sure Kaner had a lot to do with that," said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville.
"It's probably one of the first things I look for when the schedule comes out: When we're playing Buffalo and where the game is at," said Kane -- who has not been here with the Hawks since Oct. 11, 2010.
Chicago will now come once a year under the NHL's new scheduling format and that suits Kane quite nicely.
"It's something that will happen every year from here on out ... and it's so exciting being back home, to see some family and friends last night and to play in front of them tonight," Kane said.
Kane has 27 goals and 65 points in 63 games this year but the struggles that hit him during the Olympics have continued since he returned. In four post-Sochi games, he has just two assists and a minus-2 rating, and he knows that has to change soon.
"It's not like you can go into playoffs and flick a switch," Kane said. "It doesn't happen like that."
"You look at him and you measure his production and it's reflected by how he plays," Quenneville said. "When he has the puck more, he's more dangerous. Hopefully he has the puck a lot and does his thing. When he has it, play recognition and patience and making guys around him find the puck on his stick is what he's all about. I expect him to be excited about tonight."
Kane has three goals and three assists in seven career games against the Sabres, including two goals and an assist in Buffalo.
He spoke on a wide variety of topics today, including the trade of Ryan Miller, the Sabres' struggles this season and having a text exchange on Wednesday with new Sabre Cory Conacher about wearing No. 88. He said he's hopeful his hometown team is on the right path.
"It seems like it's been a tough year for them but at the same time it seems like they're a young team and they've got a lot of things in place for the future, whether it's the new rink going up downtown, having a lot of draft picks. It seems like they have the ownership in place to do things right. Hopefully it works out for them. I don't know what happened much with :Pat LaFontaine but it seems like they made a few good moves for the future at the trade deadline.
"As far as following them, it seems like everybody has been following them because they've probably been one of the most talked-about teams in the league lately with all the trades and with what's been going on."
Click below to hear audio of Kane's meeting with the media this afternoon.
March 9, 2014 - 12:32 PM
March 9, 2014 - 12:29 PM
by Amy Moritz
Oh the lineups, how they get juggled.
It's not just the trades that the Buffalo Sabres have made that have caused a shakeup in the lines and pairings but injuries are creeping up.
After Sunday's morning skate in preparation for the Sabres' game with the Chicago Blackhawks, interim head coach Ted Nolan said that Zemgus Girgensons (undisclosed) and Torrey Mitchell (lower body) were a week away from returning to the ice while Chris Stewart (lower body) will likely be longer.
Meanwhile, Nolan gets Cory Conacher in the lineup for the first time. How does he plan to use Conacher?
"He’ll be one of our forwards," Nolan said. "I haven’t really had a chance to see him play all that much. We’ll put him probably with Tyler Ennis to begin with and see how it goes. Right now it’s been a trying time. We’ve had a lot of guys in and out of the lineup. Mitchell came in for one, I liked what I saw in the first period and all of a sudden in the second period he’s gone for a length of time. It’s just been a crazy rollercoaster ride."
Look for Jhonas Enroth to play in goal for the Sabres tonight.
Patrick Kaleta has a locker in the Sabres dressing room and the reported he skated on his own, but Nolan reaffirmed that Kaleta would not be returning to play this season. Kaleta suffered a season-ending knee injury while playing with the Rochester Americans in November.
Listen to Nolan's complete comments to the media and check out his invention of the word "physicalitivity" here:
March 9, 2014 - 12:15 PM
By Amy Moritz
The immigration issues are completed and Cory Conacher will play his first game as a Buffalo Sabre tonight when they host the Chicago Blackhawks at 7:30 p.m.
Picked up from Ottawa off waivers on Wednesday, Conacher was going to meet the team in Florida for Friday night's game against the Panthers. But there was a holdup. Conacher explained:
"Basically what I did was I flew from Ottawa to Toronto Thursday," he said. "I ended up staying right across the border in the Niagara/Fort Erie area and then the plan was I was going to drive over the border, do what I had to do at the border and then I’d be good to go. Basically they gave me the wrong immigration slip in my passport. ... It was tough news to hear but, I guess this is a nice debut to make here at home. It’s going to fun to play in front of this sold-out crowd and I’m sure the fans are coming for me and not Pat Kane."
That last bit? Was sarcasm.
Conacher and Kane played together over the summer and Conacher even contacted Kane when deciding to wear No. 88 with the Buffalo Sabres. (There's a certain Buffalo/WNY respect going on here.) He had worn 89 with Tampa Bay and Ottawa and while the number was available in Buffalo, he chose 88 out of respect for former Sabre Alexander Mogilny.
"I obviously knew Mogilny and I don’t think I’ll get 76 goals in a year. That’s going to be pretty tough," Conacher said. "They didn’t say I couldn’t take it but I had a talk with the equipment guys and they mentioned that as well. I said there’s no point. He’s a guy who had a good run here in Buffalo … so I didn’t want to take out of respect. ... There were a couple numbers going through my head. I like high numbers and I liked 89 so I just decided to go one lower with 88."
It's a potential Buffalo love-fest tonight at First Niagara Center what Kane playing back home for the first time in four years and Conacher, the all-time leading scorer at Canisius, making his Sabres debut.
While waiting out his immigration status, Conacher took in the Golden Griffins playoff wins on Friday and Saturday. Cody Hodgson and Marcus Foligno came over to Buffalo State last night to check out the Ice Griffs and meet their new teammate for the first time. Hodgson said had been to a few Canisius hockey games, having played with and against current Canisius senior Taylor Law while also knowing Ben Parker, a defenseman who graduated from the Ice Griffs last year.
Listen to Conacher's comments about returning to Buffalo and what he hopes to bring to the game:
March 8, 2014 - 3:39 PM
By John Vogl
When the Sabres host the Blackhawks on Sunday, Chicago will go with Corey Crawford in goal, and the netminder will go with new pads. His favorite pair was stolen last week when the Blackhawks played an outdoor game at Soldier Field.
“I was speechless,” Crawford said after learning of the theft. “I've never seen this before. I've never heard of this before. It's crazy, man.”
He told the Chicago Tribune today that he’s over it.
“These are my new ones, and that’s it,” he said. “I don’t really care.”
Crawford is 24-11-10 with a 2.30 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. He is 3-0 in his career versus Buffalo with a 2.00 and .934.
March 8, 2014 - 11:51 AM
By John Vogl
After splitting back-to-back games in the Sunshine State, the Sabres are taking today off. Well, except for Luke Adam. He's heading back to the Amerks.
Adam, who was on an emergency recall for Friday's 2-0 loss at Florida, has been sent back to Rochester. The Amerks play in Syracuse tonight. Adam skated 12:18 and had one shot and one penalty Friday as Roberto Luongo triumphantly returned to the Panthers.
New Sabres prospect Nicolas Deslauriers, acquired Wednesday from Los Angeles, made his NHL debut.
The Sabres return to action Sunday when they host Patrick Kane and the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks.
March 7, 2014 - 7:02 PM
By Mike Harrington
SUNRISE, Fla. -- You hear "three up, three down" a lot in these parts during spring training. Prior to tonight's game against the Florida Panthers, Ted Nolan gave us "out goes three, in comes three" to describe the Sabres' injury situation.
Zemgus Girgensons, Chris Stewart and Torrey Mitchell are all out with lower body injuries suffered last night in Tampa. Nicolas Deslauriers (making his NHL debut) and Luke Adam are up from Rochester on emergency recall and Zenon Konopka will return to the lineup.
No one really knows what happened to Girgensons, who played just one shift in the second period. Stewart was injured in the third period when he was drilled by goalie Anders LIndback chasing a loose puck. Mitchell stopped a shot with his foot in the second period and finished the game but couldn't go tonight.
With just 20 games left, Nolan said a couple of the injuries could be season-ending. He wouldn't say who but my money is on Stewart for one.
Said Nolan: "That was a big two points but it cost us quite a bit."
Michal Neuvirth will make his Buffalo debut in goal tonight -- and Roberto Luongo will be doing the same in his second stint for Florida after getting reacquired from Vancouver.
Cory Conacher will not play. The ex-Canisius College star had flight issues in Buffalo but still has immigration issues as well. He will need to go back across the border Saturday to finalize them and Nolan and GM Tim Murray both said they expect Conacher to play Sunday against Chicago. Pretty tough spot for a debut.
Deslauriers got the call to make his NHL debut last night after 11 p.m. He was nervous enough about today's morning skate in Rochester, where he was to make his Amerks debut. Now he gets to show his wares in the NHL.
"I never thought i was going to get traded," Deslauriers said. "I had a good meeting with (LA GM) Dean Lombardi a couple weeks ago. I was just sitting on my couch watching TSN and it popped up. I'm pretty happy about it though. A fresh start would be good for my situation playing forward this year. I'm happy."
"Deslauriers came from a real good organization and in LA they don't give you games until they make you good enough and you're ready to go," Nolan said. " He was pretty close I imagine to getting the call. He's a big body. I've watched him play with my son in Manchester. I like the way he plays. He plays with a little spirt and jam and that's exactly what this organization needs."
March 7, 2014 - 4:36 PM
By John Vogl
Whenever I think of a true hockey player, I think of two guys -- Chris Drury and Jerome Bechard. You certainly know about Drury. Who's Bechard, you're likely asking?
He was the captain of the Columbus Cottonmouths when I covered the Georgia minor-league team for two seasons. He led by example and intimidated/irritated opponents by any means necessary. He could score in his prime and penalty-kill from the beginning of his career to the end. His original teeth turned to sawdust while blocking a shot, yet it never stopped him from diving in front of a puck.
He's still the face of the Snakes as the coach and general manager. He's also making international news today.
Beesh has signed Canadian Olympic goaltender Shannon Szabados. In case you can't tell by the name or missed her collecting two gold medals, Szabados is a woman. She will be the first to play in the Southern Professional Hockey League, but it won't be her first time competing against men.
Szabados played collegiately at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology with two Columbus players and practiced with the Edmonton Oilers last week.
"I am very excited to get a world-class athlete that has competed and has faced high-pressured situations," Bechard said in a statement. "Shannon has won at every level she has played, in women’s hockey or men’s hockey. She won a championship with NAIT last year alongside Andy Willigar and Jordan Draper, so I know she can compete at this level.
"We are working on her immigration, and we are looking to sign her officially Thursday, where she will be backing up. She will play when she feels comfortable and situated."
March 7, 2014 - 2:29 PM
By John Vogl
After a day to catch my breath following all the craziness in Sabreland, we’re back with our inaugural "Trade Deadline Trophy Show." The envelopes, please …
Andre the Giant Award (biggest deal)
The Rangers traded right wing Ryan Callahan, a conditional pick in the 2014 draft and their first-round pick in 2015 to Tampa Bay for right wing Martin St. Louis.
To have one team in a playoff race trade its captain is crazy. For two teams to do it? With each other no less? That’s as big as they come.
Bob Corkum Cup (worst deal)
The Islanders traded left wing Thomas Vanek and a conditional pick in 2014 to Montreal for right wing Sebastian Collberg and a conditional pick in 2014.
Add in the deal with the Sabres to get Vanek, and New York GM Garth Snow traded Matt Moulson, Vanek, a first-round pick and a second-round pick for Collberg, who is an undersized prospect who hasn’t proved he can score. Good times!
Irv Weinstein Award (best local move)
Calgary traded right wing Lee Stempniak to Pittsburgh for a third-round pick in 2014.
West Seneca’s Stempniak has spent nine seasons in the NHL but has skated in just 11 playoff games. He and the Penguins should play more than that this spring alone.
Clara Barton Cup (most helpful)
Dallas traded goalie Dan Ellis to Florida for goalie Tim Thomas.
The Stars are a bubble team in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. Every point matters, and Thomas will get more wins for Dallas than Ellis would have.
Bray Wyatt Award (most intriguing)
Columbus traded right wing Marian Gaborik to Los Angeles for right wing Matt Frattin, a second-round pick in 2014 or 2015 and a conditional draft pick.
Gaborik has been hurt or unproductive for the better part of two seasons. Before that, he was a 40-goal scorer. If he returns to form, the Kings may get another crown.
March 7, 2014 - 11:49 AM
FT. LAUDERDALE BEACH, Fla. -- The Sabres are pretty high on Wednesday's acquisition of Nicolas Deslauriers (right) from Los Angeles in the Brayden McNabb trade, and it appears they will get a quick look at him tonight as they have called up the winger and Luke Adam on an emergency basis from Rochester.
Chris Stewart and Zemgus Girgensons were both injured last night in Tampa and Ted Nolan said both were very doubtful for tonight.
Deslauriers, 23, is a 6-foot-1, 230-pounder who had a team-high 18 goals and 39 points in 60 games this year for the Kings' Manchester farm club. He had yet to play for the Amerks.
Deslauriers is an intriguing prospect because he is a converted defenseman in his first year as a forward -- and his 217 shots on goal were 75 more than any other teammate. He can also play point on the power play.
Adam had one goal in nine games for the Sabres earlier this year. He is currently Rochester's second-leading scorer with 42 points in 42 games, including 24 goals.
(Photo: Getty Images)
March 7, 2014 - 10:40 AM
By Mike Harrington
SUNRISE, Fla. -- OK, so the headline might be a wee bit exaggerated, but the point is that the Sabres have canceled their morning skate at BB&T Center prior to tonight's game against the Florida Panthers.
It's expected that Michal Neuvirth will make his Buffalo debut in net after Jhonas Enroth made 43 saves last night in Tampa, and that Canisius College product Cory Conacher will arrive this afternoon from Ottawa so he can debut tonight.
We'll hear from Ted Nolan and hopefully from Conacher in the 5 o'clock hour.
March 6, 2014 - 11:29 PM
By Mike Harrington
TAMPA, Fla. -- Click the audio files below for a tour around the locker room after Thursday's 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
March 6, 2014 - 6:00 PM
March 6, 2014 - 3:30 PM
By Mike Harrington
TAMPA, Fla. -- I'm looking forward to tonight's game in the Tampa Bay Times Forum because I'm expecting a huge buzz in the building. After being out 45 games, Steven Stamkos is back. And Ryan Callahan is making his debut.
There was a playoff-level sized media horde in the building this morning for the team's morning skate and coach Jon Cooper knew something was up when he entered the room for his media briefing and saw it packed.
"It's different for sure," Cooper said. "There are so many little side stories tonight."
The return of Stamkos from his broken leg is a big one. Cooper cracked "fourth-line center" when asked how Stamkos would be used tonight. Stamkos, for his part, is happy to be on the ice and to have a resolution of the Marty St. Louis drama.
"Now that all this is over, we can kind of breathe a sigh of relief," Stamkos said. "Marty's gone, the trade deadline is over, I'm coming back. This is our group. That was the message today. We have 20 games left. No matter what happens, these are the guys we're going to go to battle with every day."
Callahan said he was surprised he couldn't get a deal done with the Rangers.
"I thought a deal was going to get done to be honest with you," Callahan said. "I thought at the end of the day both parties couldn't agree on something that worked for both of us. That' s part of the business. They felt they needed to move on so it's time for ne to move on and start a new chapter."
"My major message to him was jus, 'Don't come in here and think you have to be Marty St. Louis,' " Cooper said. "... " 'That's not what you're here for. We expect you to play as hard as you did for the Rangers.' If he gives us that type of effort, he's a home run for us."
You can listen to my audio of Callahan's interview today by clicking below
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John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
About Sabres Edge
Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.
Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.
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