December 5, 2013 - 2:54 PM
December 5, 2013 - 11:53 AM
by Amy Moritz
Mikhail Grigorenko is pretty excited. The Buffalo Sabres agreed to loan him to the Russian Federation for the World Juniors Championship, which begins on Dec. 26 in Sweden.
He will join Sabres prospect Nikta Zadorov on the team. The two are on the same flight Sunday leaving to Toronto so they can join the team in Russia.
"I'm really excited," Grigorenko said. "I can't wait to go there and meet all my friends and start preparation for World Juniors. It's a big tournament for us. I know we have all the chances to win the gold and hopefully I'll be able to bring my best game there."
Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan is happy to give Grigorenko the opportunity to play. Grigorenko was a scratch the last two games. In the eight games that Nolan has been here, he has sat five.
"If history teaches us anything it's that a player's got to play," Nolan said. "I don't know too many people who develop without playing. He has to play and this will give him a good opportunity to do so."
Other lineup notes out of Thursday's morning skate is that Brayden McNabb will sit with Jamie McBain in the lineup. Also back in is Matt D'Agostini who missed yesterday with the flu.
Nolan said Alexander Sulzer will be placed on injured reserve to make room for Cody McCormick who comes off the IR list today.
Listen to Nolan's comments after morning skate:
December 5, 2013 - 10:51 AM
By John Vogl
Brayden McNabb's stay in Rochester was short but eventful. He's back in Buffalo this morning.
The Sabres sent the defenseman to the minors earlier this week so he could play for the Amerks on Wednesday. It went extremely well with McNabb scoring once and adding two assists with a plus-2 rating, more than enough to be named the First Star of Rochester's 6-1 win over Utica.
He's still not expected to be in the lineup tonight when the Sabres host the New York Rangers in First Niagara Center.
Sabres center Mikhail Grigorenko, meanwhile, will play for Russia in the world junior championships. The story was reported Wednesday, and the Sabres made the official announcement this morning.
Here are a few morning notes before the Rangers' only visit:
*The Sabres will try to get points in three straight games for the first time this season.
*Drew Stafford has seven points, including six goals, in his last six games against the Rangers.
*Ryan Miller is 8-3-4 in his last 16 games against the Rangers with a .938 save percentage and a goals-against average of 1.96.
*The Rangers and Sabres have been separated by one goal in nine of their last 16 meetings, including five that required overtime.
*The Rangers' power play is 4 for 13 (30.8 percent) in the last four games.
*Brad Richards and Ryan McDonagh enter tonight's game with a four-game point streak.
*The Rangers are tied for first in the Eastern Conference and third in the NHL with nine road wins this season
December 4, 2013 - 6:15 PM
By Mike Harrington
Sabres center Mikhail Grigorenko posted on Facebook late Wednesday afternoon that he was flying to Russia Sunday to join his national team -- and former Buffalo teammate Nikita Zadorov -- for the World Junior Championships that open later this month in Sweden.
Grigorenko told reporters for the second straight day Wednesday (see video above from Sabres.com) that he had heard nothing about the tournament from the Russian Hockey Federation but that he remained interested in playing. He told Amy Moritz of The News the same thing on Tuesday.
The Sabres said they had no information on the post or Grigorenko’s potential status but a source close to the situation told The News the process was moving forward and the team is expected to approve loaning the 19-year-old so he can play in the tournament.
It's uncertain if Grigorenko will play Thursday night against the New York Rangers or if the Sabres will simply use the loan as a way to make a move to open space on the roster for the return of Cody McCormick.
December 4, 2013 - 1:45 PM
By Mike Harrington
Since he arrived Nov. 13, interim coach Ted Nolan has made no secret of his desire to keep Ryan Miller and not trade him. Miller's status was again a topic at Sabres practice in the wake of the seven-year, $59.5 million contract extension Henrik Lundqvist inked today with the New York Rangers, Buffalo's opponent here Thursday night.
Is Miller, a pending unrestricted free agent, an asset to use in a trade or a building block? Nolan definitely said he favors the latter.
"You look at all championship teams, and it starts from the goaltending out," Nolan said. "You build around him vs. using him as a pawn to try to get something to make you better. You learn to deal with the now as a coach. You've got one of the better goaltenders in the world here. I'd like to build around him."
Nolan said as a coach he doesn't talk specifically to players about contracts and the like. Still, he said he has talked openly with president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine about the culture he wants created around the Sabres.
"I talked to Pat about this and I said, ‘The one thing we want to do is create an environment where people want to come here and stay here,''' Nolan said. "So hopefully he likes what we’re doing and you never know.”
Miller was unavailable for comment today. He had already departed the building when reporters entered the locker room and a Sabres spokesman apologized for Miller's absence, which was for a previously scheduled personal commitment. (Miller often has post-practice meetings in the days leading up to his annual Catwalk for Charity event, which is scheduled for Dec. 15).
Miller does not normally speak on gamedays after the morning skate, but may make an exception tomorrow because of his absence today.
Nolan's comments on Miller came near the end of his seven-minute session with the media today, which you can listen to below:
December 4, 2013 - 12:43 PM
by Amy Moritz
The roster move we've been waiting for happened this morning as the Buffalo Sabres assigned defenseman Brayden McNabb to Rochester.
But it's likely only for tonight.
That's the indication from interim coach Ted Nolan who said they sent McNabb to Rochester for the Amerks game with the Utica Comets tonight and would be recalled after the game.
"The Rochester Americans are so close. ... We can get him some game action and we can call him back up after," Nolan said.
McNabb played in three games for the Sabres. He had no points, one shot and an even rating.
Should they recall McNabb, the Sabres will still need to clear a roster space for Cody McCormick, returning after missing four games with an upper body injury.
That move likely could be placing defenseman Alexander Sulzer on the injured reserve. Sulzer has missed the last three days of practice and wasn't able to skate again on Wednesday.
Also missing from practice was forward Matt D'Agostini. Nolan said D'Agostini wasn't feeling well and they gave him the day to rest.
December 4, 2013 - 9:18 AM
By Mike Harrington
Be sure to read my story in today's paper about the Sabres' astonishing lack of offense thus far this season. Buffalo is on pace for the lowest goal total in the expansion era (since 1967) and is currently on pace to be the lowest scoring NHL team since 1940!!
With a pace of just 132 goals for the season, the Sabres would finish an incredible 58 goals -- 58!! -- behind their previous worst season total of 190. Jeez. The print editions feature two pretty compelling charts that I'm told aren't translating real well to Web and mobile devices. So I'm reprinting them here (the NHL one I took out team records for a little easier read).
CHART 1: The lowest-scoring NHL teams since the 1967 expansion (excludes lockout-shortened seasons)
(Click here for our photo slideshow on some of the struggling players)
TEAM YEAR GF AVG
Buffalo Sabres 2013-14 132* 1.61
Tampa Bay Lightning 1997-98 151 1.84
Oakland Seals 1967-68 153 2.07
Columbus Blue Jackets 2001-02 164 2.00
Los Angeles Kings 1969-70 168 2.21
Minnesota Wild 2000-01 168 2.05
Oakland Seals 1969-70 169 2.22
Atlanta Thrashers 1999-00 170 2.07
New York Islanders 1972-73 170 2.18
Carolina Hurricanes 2002-03 171 2.09
Carolina Hurricanes 2003-04 172 2.10
Philadelphia Flyers 1967-68 173 2.34
* - projected total
CHART 2: The Sabres' worst offensive seasons
(Click here for our photo slideshow on these teams)
YEAR GF AVG. RECORD
2013-14 132* 1.61 6-20-2
2002-03 190 2.31 27-37-10-8
1971-72 203 2.60 16-43-19
1998-99 207 2.52 37-28-17
1997-98 211 2.57 36-29-17
2001-02 213 2.60 35-35-11-1
1999-00 213 2.60 35-32-11-4
1970-71 217 2.78 24-39-15
2000-01 218 2.66 46-30-5-1
2011-12 218 2.66 39-32-11
(* -- projected total. Records in shootout years pre-2005 are listed as W-L-T or W-L-T-OTL)
December 3, 2013 - 4:54 PM
by Amy Moritz
There is more injury news out of Rochester today as Rasmus Ristolainen will miss the next three games for the Americans.
Disclosed only as an "upper body injury," it is likely that Ristolainen suffered a concussion after he was punched in the head Friday night.
According to media reports from Rochester, it was a sucker-punch from Lake Erie Monsters center Mitchell Heard in the final seconds of the Amerks' 5-3 win.
"I just talked to him and he said something and then I got punched," Ristolainen said in the Democrat and Chronicle. "I wasn't really looking."
The injury might impact Ristolainen's ability to play in the World Junior Championships. The 19-year old told the Sabres that he wanted to play for his native Finland in the tournament, which runs form Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Sweden.
December 3, 2013 - 4:07 PM
By Mike Harrington
Here's an afternoon update of news and notes from around the NHL:
---South Buffalo's Patrick Kane was named the NHL's First Star for November after collecting nine goals and 19 points as the Chicago Blackhawks moved into first place overall. They Hawks did it in part by going 6-1 on their annual extended road trip when the circus moves into United Center. Kane is third in the league with 16 goals and is tied for fifth with 30 points in 28 games this season. The second star was Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin and the third star was Minnesota goalie Josh Harding.
---Pavel Datsyuk missed the Red Wings' Nov. 24 win here over the Sabres with an apparent concussion suffered the night before in Ottawa. Now captain Henrik Zetterberg is out of the lineup for at least two weeks with a herniated disc in his back, the team announced today. He leads the team with 30 points in 19 games. (An aside on Datsyuk: I said the hit by Ottawa's Jared Cowen was worthy of a Shanaban. Now he's been out two weeks and there was no suspension? Terrible).
---The Edmonton Oilers have announced their new arena opening in 2016 will be named Rogers Place. It replaces Rexall Place, the former Northlands Coliseum during the Wayne Gretzky glory days. The building has seen better days and is now well behind its counterparts.
Rogers is just everywhere in Canada, especially with the new TV deal. As friend of the blog and NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen points out, we already have Rogers Arena (in Vancouver), the NHL has its new multi-billion TV deal with Rogers, Rogers owns 37.5 percent of the Toronto Maple Leafs and, of course, the Blue Jays play in Rogers Centre.
December 3, 2013 - 1:08 PM
By Mike Harrington
Alexander Sulzer missed his second straight day of practice today and the Sabres defenseman, who missed Monday for what the team termed a "maintenance" day, is now iffy for Thursday's game against the New York Rangers. Interim coach Ted Nolan said he's hoping Sulzer can practice Wednesday but would probably miss the game if he didn't. Jamie McBain and Brayden McNabb have both sat out the last two games as scratches and could step in to replace him.
The Sabres have a bigger decision looming because Cody McCormick will be back in the lineup after missing the last four games. The team has to make a roster spot for McCormick and could simply ship Brian Flynn off the fourth line to Rochester. But Nolan acknowledged today that discussions continue about Mikhail Grigorenko's role on the club.
The 19-year-old could be sent back to junior or could be loaned to the Russian Federation for the upcoming World Junior Championships that open Dec. 26 in Malmo, Sweden. Grigorenko was not on the Russia roster for the tournament that was released late Monday night but said today he would be interested in playing.
"It's always good to represent your country," said Grigorenko, a standout for the Russian team in last year's tournament on home soil in Ufa. "Nobody has spoken with me. If they have put me on the list, I would have been happy. I would have been happy to play for my own country."
Grigorenko was not on the list ostensibly because he's currently in the NHL and would need to be loaned out.
"Patty and I have discussed all those possibilities," said Nolan, referring to president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine. "We have to make sure we find a good role for him. ... He's got to be playing. I've never seen a player develop not playing."
Defenseman Nikita Zadorov, recently returned to London of the OHL by the Sabres, was named to the Russian roster.
"I'm pretty sure he's going to dominate there and be one of the best players in the tournament," Grigorenko said.
Click below to hear Nolan's session with reporters today on the roster moves, plenty of thoughts on Drew Stafford and Marcus Foligno and the Sabres' continuing struggles to score goals.
December 3, 2013 - 9:53 AM
By Mike Harrington
The latest entry into the Sabres' search for a new general manager is Ottawa assistant Tim Murray, the nephew of longtime Sens coach and current GM Bryan Murray. The Sabres have asked for permission to talk to Murray and received it, according to veteran columnist Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun.
Tim Murray was named to his current post on July 5, 2007 -- four days after Daniel Briere and Chris Drury left the Sabres in the moment that basically ended Buffalo's run to the top of the Eastern Conference. Less than two months earlier, Ottawa had eliminated the Sabres in Game Five of the Eastern Conference final.
Murray, who turned 50 on Halloween, would seem to be an attractive candidate for a rebuilding team based on a resume full of scouting/personnel roles that date to 1993. He's worked for Florida, Anaheim and the New York Rangers before joining Ottawa. With the Senators, Murray serves as GM of the Binghamton farm team, and the B-Sens won the AHL's Calder Cup in 2011.
This Ottawa Sun story after that season even talks about why Tim Murray should have replaced Bryan as general manager of the big-league Senators.
Murray joins a list that includes several other assistant GMs such as Jim Benning (Boston), Jason Botterill (Pittsburgh), Paul Fenton (Nashville) and Brad Treliving (Phoenix), who was discussed in John Vogl's Inside the NHL column on Sunday.
The Sabres also asked for and received permission to talk to Montreal assistant Rick Dudley, the former Buffalo player and coach. But the Lewiston resident never interviewed, as he signed a lucrative extension to stay with the Habs.
December 2, 2013 - 1:58 PM
by Amy Moritz
With no game until Thursday it was back to Sabres Skating School at First Niagara Center Monday morning.
The team worked with skating coach Dawn Braid for about 45 minutes before going back on the ice for another 45 minutes of practice, complete with conditioning to close out the session.
"I told the team today we're all creatures of habit," interim coach Ted Nolan said. "We've got to change some things."
Alexander Sulzer did not practice, Nolan said it was a maintenance day, while Cody McCormick is ready to return to the lineup.
The lines at practice stayed the same:
The seven defenseman rotated through drills:
Ehrhoff, McBain, McNabb, Myers, Pysyk, Tallinder, Weber
December 1, 2013 - 1:53 PM
One of the major curiosity dates on the NHL schedule takes place this evening when longtime captain Daniel Alfredsson returns to Ottawa for the first time as a member of the Detroit Red Wings.
It's the biggest story in town in Canada's capital, as evidenced by today's cover of the Ottawa Sun (left). The game is a 5:30 start and will be shown nationwide in Canada, and on NHL Network in the United States.
(* -- If you're looking for Sabres news, they're off today and return to the ice tomorrow *)
Alfredsson got to practice in his old rink Saturday and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Alfie will be in the starting lineup as the Senators play a five-minute video tribute to their former captain.
It will certainly be interesting to see the reaction for Alfredsson, who is clearly the greatest Senator of all time but was a bit of a turncoat when he spured Ottawa and signed a one-year deal with Detroit in July. I'm sure there are Senators fans who aren't keen on the idea of a tribute.
An aside here: The Sabres correctly never considered a tribute for Daniel Briere and Chris Drury when they returned in 2008 because fan backlash would have been huge. If you remember, they basically both got booed every time they touched the puck. Alfredsson, on the other hand, is essentially the Gilbert Perreault of Ottawa.
(And, for the record, the Sabres still were dopes for not giving Jason Pominville 30 seconds when he returned in October, although the current belief is Darcy Regier nixed that plan. Still, no current Sabres employee has ever confirmed that point to me and it would have made sense to given how they got shredded in my column and by plenty of fans. But I digress...)
The reaction of the fans to Alfredsson is just about as big a story as the game itself.
"I'm anxious to play the game. What's going to happen will happen," Alfredsson said. "It's very different from anything I've ever gone through before. I don't know what to expect or what's going to happen. I'm hopeful it will be a good night."
November 30, 2013 - 5:32 PM
By Mike Harrington
NEWARK, N.J. -- Patrick Kaleta's season is over, ending Friday night in Rochester when he suffered a torn ACL to his right knee during the Amerks' win over Lake Erie. That's the word from a Buffalo News source and coach Ted Nolan pretty much confirmed that prior to tonight's game against the New Jersey Devils while adding this bombshell:
Kaleta was rejoining the Sabres for practice on Monday and was likely going to be in the lineup for their next game, Thursday in First Niagara Center against the New York Rangers.
Obviously, that won't happen now.
"It doesn't look good and that's usually the case right there," Nolan said when asked if he could confirm the injury was season-ending. "We're hoping it's not but it possibly could be."
As we posted earlier today, Kaleta was injured when he somersaulted over Lake Erie goalie Calvin Pickard while cutting in on the goal and his knee struck the crossbar. The injury came late in Rochester's 5-3 win and Kaleta had to be helped off the ice, putting no weight on his leg.
November 30, 2013 - 3:47 PM
November 30, 2013 - 11:45 AM
By Mike Harrington
NEWARK, N.J. -- Only two weeks before the Rochester Amerks play their just-about-sold-out outdoor game Dec. 13 at Frontier Field against the Lake Erie Monsters, Angola native Patrick Kaleta has almost certainly been knocked out of the unique affair after suffering what appears to be a severe leg injury in last night's 5-3 win over the Monsters.
And it sounds like the calls for him to return to Buffalo are going to have to stop too.
Veteran Rochester Democrat & Chronicle beat reporter Kevin Oklobzija tweeted late this morning that there's still no official word from the team on Kaleta's status but it certainly doesn't sound good.
Oklobzija reported late last night that Kaleta barreled over Lake Erie goalie Calvin Pickard and the back of his right leg slammed into the crossbar as he somersaulted over Pickard.
Amerks coach Chadd Cassidy would only said "it didn't look good" and "it's going to be a while" when asked about Kaleta.
Kaleta had one goal and three assists in seven games for the Amerks and had been playing a clean game with only two penalty minutes. He's back in the AHL, of course, after clearing waivers when former Buffalo GM Darcy Regier opted not to put Kaleta back on the roster following his 10-game suspension for a head shot against Columbus' Jack Johnson.
New Sabres president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine and interim coach Ted Nolan both pushed off questions about Kaleta recently, emphasizing he had to make major changes to his game to avoid suspensions before he would be a candidate for a recall.
November 30, 2013 - 11:31 AM
By Mike Harrington
NEWARK, N.J. -- In the wake of Friday's 3-2 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Sabres are staying off the ice this morning and meeting in their hotel prior to tonight's game in the Prudential Center against the New Jersey Devils.
Jhonas Enroth is expected to be in goal and Mikhail Grigorenko and Brayden McNabb are expected to return to the lineup after serving as healthy scratches Friday night. It's possible Cody McCormick could return to the lineup as well. We'll have to wait until interim coach Ted Nolan's update around 5 p.m. for confirmation of the moves.
Tonight's game is the first of three this year against New Jersey. The Devils won two of three meetings last year -- with all the games going to shootouts.
For entertainment value, there's just about nothing like a Sabres-Leafs game in Buffalo and last night was no exception. The crowd, a pro-Leafs one, was rocking all night but the Sabres fans responded in OT to Christian Ehrhoff's game-winner, which produced a shower of beer cans to the ice from the Toronto faithful.
The Sabres were having some pretty good chuckles in their locker room over that whole scene. Captain Steve Ott captured it hysterically with this take-that tweet (and look at the numbers of RTs and favorites he's getting!)
Thanks to the Toronto fans that donated their Tall Boys, we had the trainers grab them for a nice day off. #Classy— Steve Ott (@otterN9NE) November 30, 2013
Incredibly enough, the Ehrhoff shot went right through the skate of Leafs defenseman Carl Gunnarsson before snaking through goaltender James Reimer. Seriously. Check it out.
It was the Sabres' first overtime winner since Ott's power-play goal on March 19 in Montreal -- and their first OT winner at home since Derek Roy's power-play goal beat the Leafs on April 3, 2012, the night that Jordan Leopold score the tying goal in the final two minutes with that memorable jam-scramble in front of the Leafs net. The Sabres lost their only previous home overtime this season to Tampa Bay and were 0-2 in home-deciding OT goals in the lockout-shortened campaign.
November 29, 2013 - 4:24 PM
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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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- Grigorenko excited to play for Russia at World Juniors
- McNabb back for Sabres, who are set to host Rangers; Buffalo agrees to loan Grigorenko to Russia
- Looks like Grigorenko headed to Russia for World Juniors
- Nolan on Miller: 'I'd like to build around him'
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