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Flyers motivated, content with chances

PHILADELPHIA -- Danny Briere has seen Lindy Ruff at work during the playoffs, so he figured the Buffalo coach would strongly insert his opinion at some point.

"It doesn't surprise me at all," Briere said today after practicing for Game Five. "There probably are things that are going to motivate us, but not that fun banter that's going on."

And what will motivate the Flyers, as both teams attempt to take a 3-2 series lead tonight?

"I'd rather not get into it right now," Briere said. "I'll save a better time for it."

The Flyers' main motivation is to beat Ryan Miller. The Buffalo goaltender has two 1-0 shutout victories. Flyers forward Scott Hartnell is content with the number of chances his team generated in Game Four, but now he wants them to finish the opportunities.

To hear Briere and Hartnell, click the audio files below.

---John Vogl

Danny Briere

 

Scott Hartnell

Pregame chat with News hockey reporters at 7 p.m.

Kaleta the doorman ready for a physical game

PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers like Mike Richards and Kimmo Timonen say they need to triple their hits tonight, and that's certainly fine with Patrick Kaleta. The Angola native was all smiles after the Sabres' morning skate today in the Wells Fargo Center when the talk turned to how tough Game Five might become.

"It's part of being a competitor: Hate the person and hate the team you're going against," Kaleta said. "That's also the fun part too. You play the same team over and over again and it's a battle. On the ice, it's all-out war and that's what you have to do."

Kaleta said he also loved Lindy Ruff's cracks on the Flyers yesterday.

"Lindy's behind our backs 100 percent," he said. "That's why personally, and I can vouch for everyone in the room that we love playing for Lindy, that he'll have our backs 100 percent of the way and that's what you need, a sense of team where everyone is in it together. He's kind of funny sometimes and that's the way he is."

There's also a bizarre Zapruder film moment to the series that Kaleta is in the middle of.

Midway through the third period of Game Four, Cody McCormick and Nikolay Zherdev were engaged in front of the Buffalo bench and a clip from CSN Philly appears to show Kaleta opening the door to the bench so that Zherdev falls in. The clip made Deadspin.com -- the site that made Brett Favre and Jenn Sterger famous -- under the headline "This Might be the Dirtiest Hockey Play We've Seen in a While"

See for yourself.

"There was a change. You pop it open and slide down," Kaleta said. "I didn't expect anyone to be in our bench but it was kind of funny. Just because I did it, people think I did it on purpose but I was there and flipped it up and whatever. They were scrumming but you never expect anybody to be there. You're on a change, you pop it open and slide down and let the player come in. It's what you do. You do it so many times you kind of take it for granted."

Uh-huh.

Hear Kaleta's session with reporters below.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Laviolette on Lindy: 'I thought it was funny'

PHILADELPHIA -- Peter Laviolette and Lindy Ruff have some history in the chirping department dating to the 2006 Eastern Conference finals when Laviolette coached Carolina. So it figured the Flyers coach would have some reaction to Ruff's "they're whining" rant from yesterday.

"I thought it was funny," Laviolette said. "One of the [Flyers' assistant] coaches did a little spoof on it today in the coaches office and took out the word 'whining' and put in 'winning.' It was pretty funny. We don't get involved in too much of that crap but it was funny. We had a good time with it."

Pressed on whether it was inevitable Ruff would spout off in this series based on his '06 experience, Laviolette simply said, "We don't get wrapped up too much in that. We had a good chuckle."

Ruff said he wasn't worried he was motivating the Flyers with his comments.

"I think we got a lot of motivation from their comments is what i think," Ruff said. "That we got away with murder, we got a lot of motivation out of that. That really fired us up."

In Laviolette's session, he dodges most questions about Chris Pronger, discusses Ruff and heaps praise on the Flyers' penalty killers.

Ruff was quizzed quite a bit about Brad Boyes by NHL.com, and also discusses Tim Connolly, the need for a better power play and more on Ryan Miller

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 


Peter Laviolette


Lindy Ruff

Hecht joins Sabres for skate

PHILADELPHIA -- The Sabres have just taken the ice for their morning skate, and forward Jochen Hecht is with them for the first time since March 29. More to come following practice.

The Sabres' lines:

Nathan Gerbe-Tim Connolly-Drew Stafford

Thomas Vanek-Paul Gaustad-Patrick Kaleta

Tyler Ennis-Rob Niedermayer-Jason Pominville

Cody McCormick-Brad Boyes-Mike Grier

Chris Butler-Tyler Myers

Marc-Andre Gragnani-Jordan Leopold

Mike Weber-Steve Montador

---John Vogl

Flyers' post-practice update: Pronger uncertain

PHILADELPHIA -- The Chris Pronger situation fluctuated wildly from the start of Philadelphia's morning skate to the end, with the star defenseman looking all but certain to play tonight in the beginning but shifting to questionable at the conclusion.

Pronger participated fully in the workout, skating alongside blue-line partner Matt Carle during drills. Pronger, who is recovering from mid-March hand surgery, took shots on the goaltenders, including slap shots. He looked ready.

"He looks good," coach Peter Laviolette said.

Pronger, though, stayed on the Wells Fargo Center ice after most of his teammates left to shoot pucks, and it was then that he struggled. He grimaced on a wrist shot and fanned on another.

1:10 p.m. update: CSNPhilly is reporting Pronger is out tonight. Official word, of course, will have to come following warmups.

---John Vogl

 

Video: Post-practice interviews

Here are a few clips from interviews in the Sabres' locker room today:

Lindy Ruff:

Ryan Miller:

Nathan Gerbe:

Video: John Vogl's Sabres-Flyers update

John Vogl talks about the Sabres' optional practice today, as well as today's interviews with coach Lindy Ruff, goalie Ryan Miller, defenseman Tyler Myers and forward Tyler Ennis.

Here it is:

Ruff on Flyers: 'They’re really doing a lot of whining'

Mike Richards thinks the Sabres got away with murder. Lindy Ruff isn't going to let the Philly captain get away with that.

Richards complained about the officiating following the Sabres' 1-0 victory Wednesday night, a win that tied the series at 2-2. Ruff responded today before flying to Philadelphia for Game Five on Friday night.

"I just feel that there’s a lot of whining," the Sabres' coach said in HSBC Arena. "They’re really doing a lot of whining. I didn’t hear any whining when they had 10 power plays in Philly, and I didn’t hear them whining when the power plays in the first game were lopsided. But all of sudden there’s all this whining about we’re getting away with murder. That’s a bunch of crap. That’s for the media. That’s for the officials to read. That’s for, 'Here, let’s get the next call.' It’s a bunch of crap. Let’s just play.

"We’re just playing. There hasn’t been one word about officiating out of us, but if they want to cry about the officiating or whine about different calls, go ahead.

"It’s going to be decided by the emotion on the ice, how hard you want to play and how hard you want to compete and how dirty you want to get. I accept the fact the emotions are going to be ramped up real high in that game. I want to see what players come to the top of that."

The complete audio of Ruff's news conference is below, as is Ryan Miller's chat. The goaltender chuckled at Richards' statement and said the captain is just trying to deflect attention from the fact he took a five-minute major for elbowing.

---John Vogl


Lindy Ruff

 

Ryan Miller

Optional Skate @ HSBC

The Sabres conducted a short optional skate at HSBC Arena this morning. Their three goaltenders and eight skaters participated: Paul Gaustad, Nathan Gerbe, Steve Montador, Jordan Leopold, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Cody McCormick, Mike Weber and Derek Roy. The team is scheduled to fly out of Buffalo early this afternoon.

-- Bob DiCesare

Video: Roy Getting Close?

Derek Roy participated in Thursday's optional skate at HSBC Arena and, if you read between the lines, there's a chance he still could appear in this series with the Flyers.

""We're just working on the power, just trying to get power back in the leg, and trying to get my first quick steps in,"" Roy said. ""I think that's the hardest part, coming out of turns and fighting off opponents and whatnot so I'm going to have to work on that.""

His limitations?

"No hitting yet," Roy said. "Doc's orders. Until four months.""

When will it be four months since Roy underwent knee surgery?

Saturday.

-- Bob DiCesare

Video: Game Four Postgame Interviews

Watch the postgame comments from Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, goalie Ryan Miller and Flyers coach Peter Laviolette:

Lindy Ruff

Ryan Miller

Peter Laviolette

Videos by John Hickey / Buffalo News

Sabres-Flyers' Game Four highlights

Happy Thursday to you. Here are a couple recaps of the Sabres' 1-0 victory over Philadelphia on Wednesday night:

*Bucky Gleason and I give our views during the latest slide show here.

*The NHL.com highlights are below.

---John Vogl

Lindy meets the media

During his postgame news conference, Lindy Ruff gives it up to (of course) Ryan Miller, Rob Niedermayer and the grittiness of his team following the 1-0 win over the Flyers. 

Click below to listen.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 


Lindy Ruff

Audio from Miller, the Game Four star

Ryan Miller provided a resounding answer to anyone who questioned his worth to the Sabres' organization, making 32 saves to give the Sabres another 1-0 victory and tie Philadelphia, 2-2, in the first-round series.

To hear Miller speak about the win, his role in it, the key save on Danny Briere and his scrum with Daniel Carcillo, click the audio below.

---John Vogl

Vote for your three stars

Live from the Arena: Sabres-Flyers Game Four

Greetings again from HSBC Arena as we get set for Game Four, which will actually face off in the 7:40 range (raspberries and other noises from the press box in the direction of TSN for that one). I'm still trying to thaw out from the walk over here from One News Plaza a couple of hours ago through a biting wind that made it feel like January. I'm thinking the folks in the Party on the Plaza here at the arena should be inside at a watering hole somewhere? Why would you stand outside in this?

What happened to spring in this town anyway? That's one of the joys of playoff hockey, isn't it? The folks from Philly are snickering because the high temperature was 80 there today. Granted, it's supposed to be 53 range for Game Five on Friday but what we've had here has been ridiculous with the rain, wind, thunderstorms and Monday's snow.

The Bisons were supposed to be having Kids Week with ice cream giveaways all week. Yeah, right. Banged again today after playing two yesterday in 30-degree weather.

So maybe through all this we can agree it's hockey weather after all. By this point in the series, it's hard to have anything insightful to say. One thing that stick out to me is that the Sabres have to find more offense -- actually any offense -- from their top forwards.

They have seven goals in the series, with one each from the likes of Cody McCormick, Patrick Kaleta, Nathan Gerbe and Andrej Sekera. Thomas Vanek has two, both on the power play, and is minus-4. Drew Stafford has the other. Jason Pominville, Brad Boyes and Tim Connolly have yet to score, with Connolly's goalless streak in the playoffs at 26 games. Paul Gaustad hasn't scored either but that's nothing new -- 0 goals in 34 career playoff games. As well as he's playing, I'm not thinking the Sabres are long for these playoffs if Marc-Andre Gragnani continues to be their leading scorers.

The Flyers, meanwhile, continue to try to get through this series without Chris Pronger and take another huge step in that regard tonight. They were brutally mediocre (9-9-7) over the last 25 games but they're finding their stride. Bad news for the Sabres.

Be sure to check out the archive of tonight's pregame chat by going to this link. And if you missed the chat, be sure to join us Friday night at 6:30 for 30 minutes prior to Game Five.

Sabres starters: Gerbe-Connolly-Stafford? (Hmmm). Leopold-Gragnani. Goal: Miller
Flyers starters: Carcillo-Betts-Powe-O'Donnell-Meszaros. Goal: Boucher. 

Game on.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Third Period

Of note: First off, the Caps have scored three goals in the first 12 1/2 minutes of the third to wipe out their 3-0 deficit and tie the Rangers, 3-3. Wow. ... Back here, Van Riemsdyk leads all players with six shots on goal and has been great again. Best player in the series by a lot. ... Pominville leads Buffalo with three shots. Connolly leads the forwards with 12:26 and that's a joke because he has been terrible most of the night. ... Butler has played a game-high 17:42. Flyers have 14 blocked shots. Sabres have a 20-15 lead in hits and faceoffs are split, 19-19.

9:32 p.m: The puck is dropped.

17:51 left: PP lousy so far. Puck knocked out of zone three times, Butler offside another. One shot. Connolly also passed up a wide-open one from 10 feet. That's why he never scores in the playoffs.

15:00 left: Lots of boos. The Flyers knocked the puck out of the zone 13 times - 13! -- after Buffalo got it in. Sabres had just two shots on the five-minute penalty, Flyers one. Richards was literally jumping up and down in the box as the clock expired. Now, it's five minutes less off the clock but you could have grabbed this game by the throat too. And you would think the Flyers have some momentum now. The crowd is quiet.

13:25 left: Sloppy, sloppy. Icing on Buffalo. 

12:04 left: Caps-Rangers going to overtime. Incredible. Bergenheim goal with 3:17 left pulls Lightning into 2-2 tie with Pens after they were down, 2-0. Crazy night so far.

10:00 left: Sabres holding on. Shots are 4-3 for Buffalo.

9:37 left: Miller with the save on Versteeg from the slot.

8:50 left: Save of the SERIES: Miller stones Briere all alone in front with two dekes, snaring it with the glove. The crowd is wild now. Who made that horrible giveaway at the line? Gaustad? That puck has GOT to get out of the zone there. No excuse.

6:29 left: Shots are 6-4 for Flyers.

5:37 left: Boucher stops Pominville slapper and Ennis just misses rebound.

5:21 left: Ennis stopped on breakaway by Boucher. 

5:03 left: Another SENSATIONAL STOP by Miller. Diving to his right on a rebound to rob Richards. We got "Ry-an Mil-ler, Ry-an Mil-ler, Ry-an Mil-ler" chants going. Wow.

4:01 left: Kaleta wipes out a great Vanek chance alone in front by wiping out in the crease and knocking the net off. Untouched. 

3:00 left: Flyers nearly had too many men on the ice. Faceoff in Philly zone.

1:20 left: Boucher out.

1:12 left: Faceoff in Buffalo zone. Timeout, Flyers.

30.8 left: Miller survives scramble and spikes puck out of the crowd of players. Crowd chanting his name again. Faceoff to Miller's right. They're checking the clock. We think it ran. They're putting it back to 32.6.

18: Gaustad post on empty net

OVER: ANOTHER 1-0 WIN SERIES TIED. BIG SCRUM.

Second Period

8:37 p.m. The puck is dropped. Myers has returned. But Carter has NOT.

18:19 left: Niedermayer stopped from right in front. Overpassing from Gragnani. Should have shot. Then niedermayer overhandled.

17:13 left: Good stop by Miller on Carcillo on a 3-on-2. Tough time for Weber at the Flyers' line and into the Buffalo zone.

16:11 left: Carter has a right knee injury. But the Flyers say he might return. They said lower body but it's pretty clear on replay what happened when he collided with Myers.

15:11 left: How about the Rangers leading the Caps, 3-0, at MSG? Pressure building on No. 1 seeded Washington again.

14:50 left: Miller stands up for a good stop on Hartnell. Sabres still treating the puck like a hot potato too much. One press box wag said hand grenade to me during the intermission. They're definitely jittery with it. Miller has been strong so far.

13:30 left: McCormick and Grier on a 2-on-1. That took forever. Shot wide.

10:52 left: Pominville slapper stopped. Shots are 17-15, Buffalo. Some good work by the Sabres in transition and I was really impressed with the backchecking on Vanek a couple shifts ago as he came back into the Buffalo zone and stole the puck. Key play. Never shows up in any stat column but you have to have them.

9:11 left: We're just past the halfway mark. Shots are 5-5 in this period and 18-16 for Buffalo.

8:21 left: Powe off the post after a sequence where Connolly got beat twice. Then Miller clubbed Carcillo in the crease and got help from Weber. Carcillo and Miller get roughing. Gerbe serves Miller. Weber got nothing and Laviolette isn't happy. He's getting an audience with the officials.

6:28 left: Miller stands up to stop Coburn. Flyers have 21-18 edge in shots and getting better of the play again.  Miller has been strong in his crease tonight and not flopping too much. Good to see.

6:13 left: Great stop by Boucher on Myers. Gerbe just fails to handle rebound.

5:41 left: Myers for elbowing. Flyers to the PP. They're 0-2 in this one and 2-20 in the series.

3:00 left: Sabres survive the power play. Another terrible weak play with the puck by Connolly gave the Flyers another 30 seconds of zone time.

2:14 left: Flyers nailed for too many men on the ice as they were breaking into the zone. And Gaustad-Montador alertly get Kaleta away from Carcillo, who was chirping at him trying to lure him into an even-up deal.

2:03 left: Two goals in 57-second span early in the third by Caps at MSG. Rangers' lead cut to 3-2.

2.8 seconds left: WOW. Kaleta tries to hit Richards near the bench but Richards puts up the elbow and drills him in the face. FIVE-MINUTE MAJOR. 

End-2nd: Sabres hold the 1-0 lead. Shots were 10-8 for Philly and it's 21-21 through two. Sabres will have 4:58 left on their power play. Huge chance.

First Period

7:40 p.m. The puck is dropped. By the way, Doug Allen did not stand on the Sabres logo mat at center ice while singing the anthem. Tara Minogue did the other night, just for the record. Hmmmm. Wonder if the players are gonna fine her 20 bucks? 

16:00 left: Big, physical start by the Sabres. Gerbe nailed Betts, Kaleta drilled van Riemsdyk and Grier on Versteeg. And the lines are downright goofy. They rolled Gerbe-Connolly-Stafford, Vanek-Gaustad-Kaleta, Ennis-Niedermayer-Pominville, McCormick-Boyes-Grier.

14:05 left: Weber for tripping along the boards in the Buffalo zone. Just inside the blueline. Ticky-tack. Zherdev took a nice dive to accentuate the stick. Remember when someone asked in the chat about the officiating and I said I was OK with it? Not there.

12:00 left: Sabres survive as Butler makes a great save on Leino in the crease with Miller out of position.

11:27 left: Flyers got no shots on the PP. It's 4-1 for Buffalo through 8 1/2 minutes.

10:22 left: The Sabres make the breakthough and it's from a top-six forward. Badly needed. Great work from behind the net by Ennis and great veteran patience from Niedermayer to hold the puck and slide it over to Pominville for a tap-in at the edge of the crease. Sabres lead, 1-0 and the "Boo-chay" chants are out. 

10:00 left: Grier and Boyes stopped from in tight.

9:42 left: Carcillo goes for goalie interference even though he landed right on his butt. Gotta see the replay on that one. Sabres to the power play.

9:01 left: Stafford for interference at center ice as Versteeg tries to get away. Total ticky-tack. Lindy was furious over that one.

7:18 left: Van Riemsdyk with a wide-open net -- but a sliding toe of Myers' got the puck and it went over th net. Sabres were in trouble on a 3-on-1 but Butler broke that up.

7:00 left: Sabres and the crowd upset as Miller gets sticked in the mask by Versteeg. Except it wasn't. Weber got him.

5:47 left: Shots are 7-6 for Buffalo. Flyers have been in control since Carcillo got out of the box.

5:37 left: Boucher for tripping Grier. Comes two seconds after a Myers snapshot from the slot beats Boucher -- but cranks off the post.

4:18 left: Versteeg gets a backhander on Miller. Save. Walked right around Connolly, who was lolly-gagging after the puck at the Buffalo line.

3:58 left: Boyes off the post on his own rebound. Sabres have had chances for the 2-0 lead. Big chances. Haven't converted.

3:00 left: Save on Niedermayer, who has been terrific again, as he cut down through the left circle. Shots are 10-8, Buffalo. Niedermayer spent 50 games doing absolutely nothing and has been very good for more than a month.

2:12 left: Myers down in front of the net. Got drilled high in a collision by Carter, right in the jaw. Last thing Sabres need is another D-man out. Bet Myers is headed to the quiet room.

End-1st: Sabres survive with their 1-0 lead. Shots are 13-11 for Buffalo. Flyers much better last couple minutes. Leopold has been pretty brutal with the puck and keeps getting beat. Looks nowhere near 100 percent.

History lesson

It's been widely reported the Sabres are 0-5 in the playoffs when trailing a series, 2-1, and the Flyers are 18-3 when leading by that count. But here's a deeper stat that shows the rugged path the Sabres are up against: They have only won three series in their history when trailing at any point. 

1976: Lost opener of best-of-three at St. Louis. Won series, 2-1
1997: Trailed first-round series, 3-2, vs. Ottawa. Won series, 4-3
1999: Lost second-round opener at Boston. Won series, 4-2. 

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Pregame chat with News hockey reporters at 7 p.m.

Briere expects a push by Sabres

Danny Briere doesn't expect the Sabres to go quietly. The Flyers forward expects his old team to make a big push in Game Four tonight. If they don't, of course, they'd head to Philadelphia in a 3-1 hole.

Briere held court in the middle of the dressing room for more than seven minutes following the Flyers' morning skate. To hear him talk about Ryan Miller, how his love for the playoffs as a kid has led to his grown-up success, his willingness to be gritty instead of a soft perimeter player and how Chris Drury helped him, click the audio file below.

---John Vogl

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John Vogl

John Vogl

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.

@BuffNewsVogl | jvogl@buffnews.com

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

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.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

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.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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