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Myers' scratch is no big shock; audio following morning skate

MONTREAL -- While there was plenty of talk in the Sabres' dressing room this morning about Ryan Miller and Milan Lucic, a much bigger piece of news was emerging on the ice.

Tyler Myers was still out there skating with the assistant coaches and the injured Tyler Ennis and Jochen Hecht. Thus, Myers -- who is minus-6 over his last four games and was one of the do-nothings on the ice when Lucic bowled over Miller -- is going to be a healthy scratch tonight for the first time in his career.

Outsiders might call it a stunning thing to do to the 21-year-old Myers, a former Calder Trophy winner and a guy who has a seven-year, $38.5 million contract in hand that kicks in next season. But it's no surprise to regular Sabres watchers: Myers was minus-3 on Saturday, with several brutal plays resulting in Boston goals.

"The way I've been playing in the last three of four games, it's not good," Myers said. "It's not good enough for me. I have to be better. I know that the coaches know that. Until I do, stuff like this is going to happen.

"I think there's a lot of good but there's those one or two bad mistakes I have to eliminate from my game. This is just one step -- get pissed off and come out next game and start playing the way I know I can. To do that, playing a lot more physical will help my game."

Myers wasn't physical when Miller was bowled over Saturday and knows that was a mistake.

"Definitely," he said. "We've talked about it as a team. It's definitely got to be a lot more aggressive than what it was. We all know. We've had discussions as a team. That's got to be different."

Lindy Ruff played coy on Myers, refusing to admit he was out but acknowledging Myers' decisions have to be better. Ruff blew off reporters Sunday but met a gaggle of media this morning -- even joking, "it's nice to see you guys again" when it was all over. But he still wasn't happy about Lucic when I asked if he feels the NHL's ruling today has to be a suspension of the Boston forward.

"If he isn't suspended, it just means teams will be able to do exactly what Lucic did," Ruff said. "Their goaltender can play the puck, we can run him over. We can hurt him and all you get is a two-minute minor penalty. That's essentially what that means. You can concuss the other team's goaltender. You can run him going at whatever speed he was going. He made no attempt to get out of the way. It means it's fair game on goaltenders."

Ruff said there's no timetable on Miller and that his goalie "doesn't feel good." He said Miller just feels "OK."

Here's audio from today's morning skate from Ruff, Myers, Jhonas Enroth and captain Jason Pominville:

Lindy Ruff:

Download audio

Tyler Myers:

Download audio 

Jhonas Enroth:

Download audio 

Jason Pominville:

Download audio 

--Mike Harrington

BULLETIN: Myers will be healthy scratch tonight

MONTREAL — Defenseman Tyler Myers will be a healthy scratch for the Sabres tonight against the Canadiens in the Bell Centre.

It will be the first time Myers has been a healthy scratch in his three-year career.

Myers was in the group of players that did not respond when Milan Lucic ran over Ryan Miller on Saturday night, but Myers' recent struggles on the blue line are the bigger reason he is not playing tonight.

Mike Weber will play in Myers' place.

--Mike Harrington

 -----

Further updates and audio will be posted shortly.

BULLETIN: Miller has concussion, MacIntyre called up from Rochester

MONTREAL -- Darcy Regier wanted to collect his thoughts and declined comment after the Sabres' meeting today in the Bell Centre. He had plenty to say this evening in a telephone conversation with The Buffalo News.

The biggest piece of news is this: Ryan Miller has a concussion and is out of the lineup for an undetermined length of time.

Miller felt increasingly worse during Saturday's game in Boston after the hit by Milan Lucic and was removed from the game following the second period by Bruins doctors under the NHL's head injury protocol. Drew MacIntyre has been called up from Rochester and will back up Jhonas Enroth Monday night in Montreal.

As of 7:15 this evening, Regier said reports there will be no suspension are incorrect because he has been told the league has made no ruling. He said he firmly believes Milan Lucic should pay a price for the hit.

"If this hit and other types of hits like this are not suspended, we are opening up the possibility of losing goaltenders to injury," Regier said sternly. "And not just injury, but concussion. ... When i look at the position of goaltending. in a lot of ways it's not unlike quarterback in football. I feel very strongly the protection has to be provided and players committing these types of action should be punished.

"The last thing we need to do in the NHL is to be losing our stars to concussions on plays like this."

Regier said Miller will not be dressing Monday night and Drew MacIntyre will back up Enroth.

"Hopefully it is not severe and hopefully it is not longterm," Regier said ominously, although he later said Miller was feeling better today.

What about his players' lack of protection of their No. 1 goalie? Regier was blunt about that too.

"You could go to each one of our players and they would tell you that they wished they had dealt with it differently," Regier said. "And they will deal with it differently in the future. ... We were all disappointed."

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

Sabres awaiting NHL review on Lucic hit; furious Lindy blows off reporters

MONTREAL -- The Sabres have asked the NHL to review the Milan Lucic-Ryan Miller hit from Saturday night. As he was leaving the Bell Centre following today's team meeting, I approached GM Darcy Regier to talk about the events of last night and he shook his head negatively. I asked if he had nothing to say at all and he said politely, "Sorry, nothing."

(Update: Sabres spokesman Mike Gilbert clarified the original information he provided, saying teams do no request supplementary discipline reviews any longer and that the Sabres are simply awaiting to hear from the league any verdict on Lucic)

The Sabres did not skate today, with coach Lindy Ruff opting for a team meeting in the wake of the 6-2 loss. Only a few players (notably the likes of Mike Weber, Jochen Hecht and Tyler Ennis) went on the ice). Most went into a workout room.

There were understandably a lot of stern faces and Lindy Ruff was not pleased one iota. Told by team spokesman Mike Gilbert that reporters were waiting to speak to him, Ruff curtly responded, "[Bleep] the media" and stormed out of the building. Ruff is often touchy around reporters from Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa but on this day there were just four Buffalo people waiting (myself, Paul Hamilton from WGR, and Kevin Snow and Scott Miner from Sabres.com) and no one from Montreal. It will be a wee bit different tomorrow morning.

So with no Ruff, who handles injuries, there's no update on Ryan Miller's condition. The Sabres goalie was seen walking around in the dressing room hallway and was then in a training room receiving massages for what's believed to be a neck injury. The fact that he was seen and was up and about is a good sign that he may not be dealing with any concussion issues.

Miller, of course, went off on Lucic after the game. What did he think Sunday? Don't know. He sent word through Gilbert he wasn't talking either. The group got Robyn Regehr as he went to leave and I stopped Paul Gaustad, who said after the game he was embarrassed by the whole thing.

"I hoped I could have done more there," Gaustad said today. "It was something where I thought it was an illegal hit and today it's one of those things you take a look at how guys respond and how I responded and I can only look at myself and look myself in the mirror. I wasn't good enough as a player last night to help the team win."

Said Regehr: "You want to stick up for one another and be there for one another. Do I think we could have done a better job of that? Yeah. Yeah, I do."

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

The lack of response -- and what used to happen when somebody took a run at your goalie

EN ROUTE TO MONTREAL -- Greetings from JFK Airport as I await the flight to Montreal, where the Sabres have scheduled a noon meeting in the Bell Centre. Who wouldn't want to be a fly on the wall in that one after the stunning events of last night in Boston?

Well, it's long been an issue among their fan base, but the Sabres now have a full-blown issue as a weak team across the hockey world in the wake of last night's Milan Lucic-Ryan Miller dustup.

Read John Vogl's full recap from the Garden, which includes Miller's rant against Lucic -- and the Boston tough guy's pithy response that just about says it all: "We wouldn't accept anything like that. We would have [taken] care of business. But we're a different team than they are."

Obviously so. The Sabres are getting killed. Billy Jaffe on MSG Live out of New York called them "soft" last night. The Hockey Night in Canada Hot Stove crew of P.J. Stock and Mike Milbury was baffled by the lack of response and the headline from this New England Sports Network column says a a lot too: "Ryan Miller calls Milan Lucic gutless for hit on goalie but Sabres lack of response was truly gutless."

Judge for yourself.

Here's a snippet from NESN of Lucic with reporters. Look at the smirk at the beginning of the interview and the little smile and raised eyebrow at the end when asked if he was surprised there was no response.

I guess Paul Gaustad doesn't fight anymore. Even Lindy Ruff pointed out he was on the ice. Would you have thought differently about Tyler Myers' disastrous night if he had at least done something with Lucic? Probably. 

So what should the Sabres have done? Well, this isn't old-time hockey. I realize that. But you still don't run the goalie like Lucic did. Yes, Miller was out to play the puck and was fair game (**I take back what I wrote in an airport at 7 a.m. he was fair game to a point when he had the puck..but Lucic still has to try to avoid contact. That was totally unnecessary). . But when was the last time you saw that? Lucic knew who was on the ice and knew he had few worries. 

You want to see what USED to happen when you ran the goalie? Check out these dustups.

The Bruins didn't allow this stuff in the 70s (see Willi Plett and Gerry Cheevers) and the Sabres certainly got a pound of flesh in the 80s in Detroit after Tom Barrasso got run earlier in the game. Look how the Bruins and Red Wings answered. Compare that to last night. Nuff said.

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

Injured Miller calls out Lucic; Gaustad 'embarrassed' by Sabres' lack of response

Ryan Miller, injured during a collision with Boston's Milan Lucic, didn't play in the third period. However, he sat in the dressing room in a suit until the media arrived following Buffalo's 6-2 loss. He didn't want to talk about the injury, of course.

"I'm not really going to get into that," Miller said in TD Garden. "I just stuck around because I wanted to say what a piece of [feces] I think Lucic is. Fifty pounds on me, and he runs me like that? It's unbelievable. Everyone in this city see him as a big, tough, solid player. I respected him for how hard he plays. That was gutless. Gutless. Piece of [feces]."

The Sabres did not come to Miller's defense following the hit, other than a couple of shoves by Thomas Vanek and Andrej Sekera. Was it the response they needed?

"No, no it wasn't," said center Paul Gaustad, who was on the ice along with Vanek, Sekera, Tyler Myers and Jason Pominville. "I can do more. I'm embarrassed that we didn't respond the way we should have. It falls on myself. I look at myself first, and I wasn't good enough.

"We didn't push back. There's no reason to be scared. We had to go after it, and we didn't."

---John Vogl

Live from TD Garden: Sabres at Bruins

As scheduled, Miller to start against Boston

The Sabres have announced that Ryan Miller was the first goaltender off the ice at the team's morning skate in Boston, meaning he will start in goal against the Bruins, as expected.

Miller ended a four-game losing streak in his last outing, a 6-5 overtime win against Winnipeg on Tuesday. He has watched from the bench in the three of the last four games, all victories by Jhonas Enroth.

--------

So why am quoting the Sabres instead of giving you the news myself with a Boston dateline? Because I'm still stuck in the Buffalo airport.

I arrived at 5:55 a.m. for the 7 a.m. flight, which was then delayed until 10 a.m. because of a repair to the door. After boarding at 10:30, we sat on the plane for more than an hour waiting for "paperwork" to be completed.

Just before noon, the airline -- which rhymes with GetYou (nowhere) -- announced we would need to deplane because they needed another part for the same door. So now we sit in the terminal, with no anticipated departure time.

I hope to make it to Beantown by the 7 p.m. puck drop. If not, buy me a drink at a bar somewhere because that's where I'll be headed straight from the Buffalo airport.

---John Vogl

First place for Amerks; Sabres next to reach top spot?

Some notes collected while sitting through Hour Two of the flight delay from Buffalo to Boston. Gotta love it ...

*The Sabres' prospects in Rochester have moved into first place in the AHL's Western Conference North Division following Friday's 3-1 victory over Binghamton. Zack Kassian had a goal and assist for the Amerks, and he leads the team with 12 points off six goals and six assists. Brayden McNabb and Derek Whitmore also scored, while Drew MacIntyre finished with 35 saves.

Paul Szczechura had two assists and has at least one point in all four games since his debut following an injury. He has a goal and five assists.

*The Sabres can join their affiliate in first place tonight in Boston. They pulled within one point of Northeast Division-leading Toronto with Friday's easy 5-1 victory over Ottawa. The Senators visit the Maple Leafs tonight.

*Matt Ellis scored for the first time since March 2010.

*Wayne Gretzky is considering participating in the Winter Classic Alumni game between the Rangers and Flyers, according to ESPN.com.

---John Vogl

Vote for your three stars

Live from the FNC: Sabres vs. Senators

On Pegula, football and what's a story

There's quite a lively discussion going on in the comments section on our Web site and on Twitter over Bucky Gleason's column today on Terry Pegula and Penn State. Large parts of it are fascinating to read. (By all means, keep commenting!)

I have received several dozen Twitter replies and emails myself asking why The News pressed the Sabres to have Pegula meet with the media, or at least give some thoughts, in the wake of the crisis at his alma mater. Pegula issued a three-paragraph statement on Penn State late Thursday afternoon in the wake of the firings of football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier on Wednesday night. The News has also requested comment from Sabres chief development officer Cliff Benson, but that request has not yet been filled.

Benson, a retired accountant, faciliated Pegula's $88 million gift to Penn State and is a former finance chair and current state board member of The Second Mile, the agency founded by disgraced Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. You would think he would have something to say too, sooner rather than later.

Anyone can have any opinion they want on Pegula's statement. But I am going to make this point loud and clear right now: It is time for readers to STOP BADGERING US WITH THE THEORY PEGULA GAVE HIS MONEY TO HOCKEY AND THUS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH FOOTBALL.

You are dead wrong. Did the capital letters make myself clear?

Pegula talked Penn State football with the media at the Sabres' opening press conference in September after he had attended the Penn State-Alabama game. Parts of the conversation made John Vogl's season preview story in our preview section. He is a devout Penn State FOOTBALL fan.

His gift was made at a press conference last year to Spanier, the deposed president, and he's obviously close to Tim Curley, the athletic director now accused of perjury in the case. Even if he hated football -- which he doesn't -- those facts alone make his opinion on the scandal highly relevant.

And there's this: In the last year, Pegula himself made calls on behalf of Tom Bradley, the Penn State defensive coordinator who has been named interim coach in the wake of Paterno's firing. Pegula called Temple on Bradley's behalf when Bradley was involved with the coaching job there. The Harrisburg Patriot-News also reported last year that Pegula called Pittsburgh chancellor Mark Nordenberg on behalf of Bradley when the Pitt job opened.

So Pegula obviously has a close relationship with the man who just replaced Joe Paterno. Anyone still want to say he has nothing to do with Penn State football?

So by all means, please leave any and all comments you want on Twitter, the blog, our stories, wherever. But stop saying Pegula has nothing to do with Penn State football so that's an excuse for him not to say anything about perhaps the worst scandal in the history of college sports. A scandal happening at his alma mater, where he ranks as the largest private donor in its history.

His comments are more than a little relevant.

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

The numbers help on goalie call

So what's up with Lindy Ruff going back to Jhonas Enroth over Ryan Miller tonight? Could you have ever imagined Miller NOT getting a start in a game after two days in a row off in recent years? No way.

But the proof is in the numbers and Ruff has to be playing his hunches here.

Enroth, remember, just beat the Senators last week in a shootout. And there's this: Miller is 13-15-2 vs. Ottawa in his career and 20-5-7 vs. Boston, where the Sabres play Saturday night. Ruff said today he's going back to his schedule, and that means neither guy is going to play both games in this back-to-back. So that makes it easier to see why Miller is going tomorrow, with Enroth playing tonight against Ottawa (the Sens are starting Craig Anderson).

And I think that's going to hold even if Enroth pitches a shutout tonight. It will then be interesting to see what Ruff does Monday in Montreal, where Enroth really started his career with a brilliant shootout win last February but Miller was sensational with a 40-save victory on Oct.  15.

Miller is 20-8-5 with a 2.29 GAA against the Habs in his career but he's just 8-9-4 against New Jersey, which comes to town Wednesday. Enroth has won his only start against both teams. Maybe it's Miller in Montreal and Enroth against the Devils but Miller certainly needs to have a good night in Boston; his goals-against average in the last five games is 4.10! 

"We've put together a schedule," Ruff said after today's optional morning skate. "We have a busy one ahead of us and we're going to try to stick to it."

The Sabres went 5-1 against the Senators last year and won the first meeting this year after a brutal stretch dating to the lockout that included the loss in the 2007 Eastern Conference finals. What's changed?

"Those are always hard questions to answer," Ruff said. "It's the same question we tried to answer when we couldn't beat them. Somemtimes there's a little luck involved and you get rolling pretty good against a team. They rolled pretty good against us and then we've had our fair shake now."

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

 

Enroth to start for Sabres tonight

Jhonas Enroth was the first goalie off the ice for the Sabres at their morning skate, a definitive sign he will be in net tonight when Ottawa visits First Niagara Center.

The start will be the third in four games for Enroth, who earned a 3-2 shootout victory over the Senators on Saturday.

The Sabres visit Boston on Saturday, and Ryan Miller is expected to play against the Bruins.

---John Vogl

Golisano pondering purchase of Dodgers

What are the Los Angeles Dodgers doing on a hockey blog? Is my head still spinning from Game Six of the World Series in St. Louis? Nope. It's because there's a big connection between the bankrupt and for-sale Dodgers and the Sabres.

Guess who wants in as Dodgers owner? Yep. Tom Golisano.

You may remember he knows a thing or two about getting teams out of bankruptcy. He did that in 2003 with the Sabres, buying them for $92 million (and getting $25 million in loans eventually forgiven) -- and selling them to Terry Pegula in February for a whopping $189 million.

The Dodgers are being sold by Frank McCourt after they spun into chaos and divorce court as McCourt and his wife, Jamie, spent most of this season wrangling over control. Frank McCourt finally won that but he is selling.

The New York Times reported yesterday that Peter O'Malley would like to buy back the team he sold 13 years ago. As for Golisano, he told the paper in the same story, "I’ve been a baseball fan all my life. I played it for 44 years. Mickey Mantle was my hero. I went to several of [the Yankees'} World Series."

Golisano also spoke briefly this evening to the Wall Street Journal about the Dodgers and pointed out a high payroll isn't necessarily required in baseball given the fact neither the Rangers or Cardinals were in the top 10 this season. The Dodgers were actually 12th this season at $104 million -- more than double what Golisano ever had to pay in most seasons he owned the Sabres.

Therein lies the rub. Golisano insists he has enough wealth, even though some speculation has the Dodgers' purchase price pushing $1 billion. But sustaining those kind of payrolls every year? His history shows that would be a longshot.

Other rumored candidates include former Dodgers GM Fred Claire, a group that includes ex-players such as Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban (who has already said the $1 billion price is too high) and perhaps Magic Johnson.

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

Sabres' Pegula, a Penn State benefactor, issues statement about university events

Sabres owner Terry Pegula, who graduated from Penn State and is one of its largest benefactors thanks to an $88 million donation that is allowing the school to start a Division I hockey program, has issued the following statement regarding the university, which has changed its president, athletics director and football coach following a child abuse scandal:

“The events that are unfolding at Penn State University are deeply troubling and a matter of great concern to me and my wife Kim.  As many have expressed, our primary concern is for the individuals and families who may have been victimized.

“Penn State's reputation has been severely tarnished. We are encouraged to see the University trustees have begun the process of restoring integrity and trust in the institution. This process will take a period of time, and trust will need to be re-earned as a result of these recent disclosures.

“Penn State is supported by millions of students, alumni, faculty, staff and administrators. Our own support for Penn State and its hockey program is well known and will continue. We expect the University will carry out its educational mission with high standards and integrity.”

---John Vogl

Ennis, Hecht skate for Sabres; Ruff condones Tampa's system (with an asterisk)

Tyler Ennis, who has been out since suffering an ankle sprain Oct. 22, returned to the ice today for a light skate before his Sabres teammates practiced. The left winger was joined by forward Jochen Hecht, who is trying to rebound from a concussion suffered on the second day of training camp.

"They both skated for about 30 minutes," coach Lindy Ruff said in First Niagara Center. "In Tyler’s case, no agility stuff, just basically lap skating."

Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers, who left practice early Wednesday, participated fully today and will play Friday when Buffalo hosts Ottawa.

Ruff is among those who witnessed the NHL's version of a chess match (only more boring) Wednesday when Philadelphia and Tampa Bay stood around waiting for the other to do something. The coach condones the 1-3-1 defensive style employed by the Lightning and coach Guy Boucher.

"It’s more pronounced that other teams, but there’s probably 15 teams that play 1-3-1," Ruff said. "We play it on occasion. We like a couple different looks, though. That’s his right to play whatever system he wants."

There isn't anything about the system Ruff would like to see legislated, but he did add a caveat.

"I think somewhere in there, there’s an obligation to go get the puck if the other team has it," Ruff said. "I believe that. What happened last night wasn’t good for the game."

---John Vogl

Flyers to Lightning: We can be as boring as you

Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher has employed a 1-3-1 defensive system that discourages offense, with one player standing at the blue line, three on the red line and another on the back blue line. The Sabres fell into that trap during a 3-0 loss the Lightning.

Philadelphia had no plans to let Tampa dictate their game Wednesday.

Just 30 seconds into the game, Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger got the puck on his own faceoff circle, and he waited for the Bolts to forecheck. And waited. And waited. And waited. He didn't move for 30 seconds, and no one else did, either. The refs finally blew the whistle.

Guess what? The situation repeated itself. Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette defended the tactic.

"They have a set forecheck in the neutral zone, so we have a set breakout,” he said.  “As soon as we get some pressure, we'll get into our outs. If they don't want us to stand there, they should come after us. Why are they going to just stand there?"

Said Tampa forward Dominic Moore: "We have our system, they have their system, and that's the way it is."

It was not the ideal return for Pronger, who was playing for the first time in seven games after suffering an eye injury.

"That's not hockey in my book," Pronger said. "But whatever, the league's letting them do it. Would you pay money to watch that? I wouldn't, either. That was a TV game, too. Way to showcase the product."

---John Vogl

Inside the NHL live chat with Bucky Gleason at 10 a.m.

Gaustad makes the play

Paul Gaustad is a grinder, a great faceoff man and a physical presence. So how did he end up with the No. 1 play on SportsCenter Tuesday night?

With a sensational spin move to create space and get off a backhand pass for a Jason Pominville goal.

I didn't get a chance to talk to Gaustad about the play after practice today but Lindy Ruff was effusive in how the veteran center made the kind of move players often work on but rarely pull off. To avoid stick-on-stick combat at times in the offensive zone, the spin to the backhand can be an effective tool and that's what Gaustad used.

"Sometimes  you see it down low where a player will spin to the backhand to get the puck on net," Ruff said. "He read the defenseman  was trying to take that ice away and he made a great play."

"I was more happy about his play than me putting it away," Pominville said after the game when asked about his leap into Gaustad's arms. "It was a great look, right on my stick. I was pretty happy about his play."

If you missed it, take a look here.

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

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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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