The Sabres did a lot of video work and then were on the ice for more than an hour today in First Niagara Center. Most of the emphasis was on defense, especially because of their lack thereof in Tuesday's 6-5 win over Winnipeg.
Andrej Sekera and Tyler Myers were both minus-3 in that game and Buffalo's top pair was briefly broken up late in the second and into the third period.
""They didn't play well," said coach Lindy Ruff. "They made some bad decisions and that's been part of our problem. We haven't had six guys play well back there. It seems like each game one pair has made some big mistakes that's cost us. ... We have to clean those plays up."
"It was probably my worst game since the beginning of the season," Sekera said. "You can't get too low. It's a long season. I know I can be better and i will better. I have to learn from it. I made three mistakes and I cost us three goals. I've got to be responsible for my play and I have to make sure I don't make those mistakes."
Myers left practice early with what Ruff termed a minor injury after he was banged during the game and again during practice. The guess is it came when he was crunched by Winnipeg's Jim Slater during a Buffalo power play in the third period. Tyler Ennis and Jochen Hecht continue to not skate. Ruff said Ville Leino is also a little dinged and held the winger out of the skating sprint drills that ended practice.
It's Hall of Fame Night at First Niagara Center as Rick Jeanneret and Dale Hawerchuk earn their tickets into the Sabres Hall in ceremonies prior to the game against the Winnipeg Jets, the team that drafted Hawerchuk first overall in 1981.
(The ceremonies start at 7:08 and the game is pushed back to 7:23. Fans should be in their seats by 7 to see the pregame videos and such).
I had a great conversation yesterday with Jeanneret for a story in today's paper and will be speaking to Hawerchuk this evening during a 6:30 media briefing. One thing that didn't make the story was when we chatted about the Sabres' incredible 1992-93 season, the one that saw Pat LaFontaine (53-95-148), Alexander Mogilny (76-51-127) and Hawerchuk (16-80-96) all go wild offensively.
It was the year that featured the "May Day" goal that cemented Jeanneret as an icon and the Sabres then went on to lose four straight one-goal games to Montreal, three in overtime. The Canadiens went on to win the Stanley Cup. Injuries to LaFontaine, Mogilny and Doug Bodger ruined the Sabres' hopes that year, easily forgotten as a close brush with the Cup.
"It was 10 years for them to graduate out of the first round so the [May Day victory] was a big deal," Jeanneret said. "They went on to Montreal ... and it didn't work on in the end but that was a pretty good run though."
And, of course, on Jeanneret's night, talking about the '92-93 season gives us another reason to give you this flashback and an NHL.com retrospective that was produced last year.
"Everything in this case gets blown out of proportion a little bit,' Ruff said. "Probably Jhonas' numbers (4-0-0, 1.41, .952) are a little unrealistic and Ryan's (0-4, 3.91 in the last four) have taken a hit on some real bad plays by our hockey club at the same time. Any player can go through a tough stretch. In Ryan's situation, he's played good but he hasn't played great and I'll be the first to admit that. It might be a timely save here or there that makes a difference."
Ruff said he's sensed a difference in his team since the seven-minute nightmare Wednesday against Philadelphia that saw Miller get yanked after giving up three goals. The Sabres dominated the final 40 minutes of that game and then put together solid efforts against Calgary and Ottawa.
"I think that was a big wakeup call and I tried to use putting the goalie in without taking a timeout as the opportunity to talk to the team," Ruff said. "The referee was lambasting me at the same time but that situation is an eye-opener. We got off to a good start [to the season]. We were a little off track, a little inconsistent and we need to get back to being a lot harder team on the puck and lot harder team to play against when we don't have it."
Miller declined to speak to the media today. That's a little unusual for him, but there wasn't much new ground to cover anyway after he spoke for six minutes yesterday. And it's not unusual at all in the context of the league. Like starting pitchers in baseball, many NHL goalies don't speak after the morning skate on gameday.
No changes to the lineup. Marc-Andre Gragnani remains in at defense and Mike Weber remains a scratch.
Here the audio from Ruff's chat today with reporters below.
Ryan Miller has left the ice after the conclusion of the Sabres' morning skate and Jhonas Enroth has stayed behind for more work. That means Miller is going to start tonight against Winnipeg. More to come.
Ryan Miller has lost four games in a row. There’s no word on when he’ll get to end the losing streak. The Sabres’ goaltender made it clear, however, he definitely (and explicitly) wants to end it.
“I’m here to win,’’ Miller said today after practice in First Niagara Center. “That’s the emotion you get from me. If I’m discouraged, if I’m [ticked] off, that’s just how it is. I want to win. I don’t want to be out there getting scored on. I don’t want to be pulled out of a game. I want to, you know, I want to [expletive] win the game.”
The F-bomb put an exclamation point on a rough week for the goaltender, who was pulled less than seven minutes into Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Philadelphia and had to watch from the bench as Jhonas Enroth beat Calgary and Ottawa on Friday and Saturday.
The game against the Senators was the first time Miller had sat consecutive games while healthy in nearly five years.
“You want to play," Miller said. “My last outing wasn’t the way you like to leave the ice. You want to go out and do your job, and the next chance I get I’ll be ready.
“We got a solid win, and Jhonas played well. It’s not all that surprising. But for me, I pride myself on being able to get back in net, get back in the saddle. To have to wait about a week for that is not ideal for me. I’m going to do my best when Lindy tells me it’s time to go.”
Ruff refused to divulge who will play Tuesday when the Sabres host Winnipeg.
“I’m just trying to do everything that’s in my control," Miller said. “You can’t always control what happens in front of you or the coach’s decision or anything. You just have to react to it. Goaltenders are judged on how they react, whether it’s the puck going in or if they make the save or if they get pulled out of the game or if when they get put back in. It’s all about how you react. I’m just trying to do my best to be ready to react in a way that helps this club.”
The audio files of Miller’s chat – minus the expletive at the 4:55 mark – and Ruff’s news conference are below.
Our weekly On the Beat chat won't be held in its normal Tuesday afternoon slot because of Tuesday's visit by the Winnipeg Jets but ....... we're going to have it today at 3 p.m! So be ready to discuss all things Sabres. And I imagine Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth might come up once or twice.
OTTAWA -- Lindy Ruff told Jhonas Enroth on the plane ride to Ottawa overnight that the goalie would start for the Sabres, and Ryan Miller's replacement won for the second straight night, this time earning a 3-2 shootout victory.
"He's been going well," Ruff said in Scotiabank Place. "I thought he deserved it. He's given us a lot of good efforts. We won. He's obviously fresh. We haven't played very much. I just gave him the nod, a little bone for as well as he's been playing."
Ruff said Miller handled the news well.
"Ryan was real good," Ruff said. "I actually tweaked the schedule a little bit in Florida when Ryan had the shutout, so I think you just go on hunches and you try and make your best decision."
It was the first time since the 2006-07 season that Miller sat during consecutive games while healthy.
"It's not tough when your other goalie has played as well as he's played," Ruff said. "It's not an easy decision to make because we need both guys going."
When Miller was approached by The News for an interview, he gave a surprised look at being desired for questioning. He answered the first question, "Were you healthy enough to play?" with a quick "yes" and then retreated to the back changing room.
The audio of the news conferences for Ruff and Enroth are below.
OTTAWA -- Let the goalie controversy officially begin in Buffalo.
Coach Lindy Ruff has elected to start Jhonas Enroth in net for the second straight night, leaving Ryan Miller on the bench for tonight's game against the Ottawa Senators. Miller was originally scheduled to play the game, but his struggles coupled with Enroth's 3-0 start altered that.
Enroth made 29 saves in a 2-1 victory over Calgary on Friday, improving his numbers to a 1.29 goals-against average and .958 save percentage.
Miller lasted less than seven minutes in his last start, a 3-2 loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday. Miller let in all three goals, while Enroth stopped all 15 shots he faced. Miller has lost four straight games and is 4-5 with a 2.49 GAA and .922 save percentage.
Miller walked into the Sabres' dressing room alone with an angry look on his face when the team bus arrived at Scotiabank Place.
Robyn Regehr hopes all the jitters disappear before the puck even drops.
The Sabres defenseman, who spent the previous 11 seasons in Calgary, will face the Flames for the first time tonight in First Niagara Center. There's no doubt it will be an interesting experience for him.
"I’m looking forward to this game, and I have been for a long time," Regehr said this morning. "As for emotions, I’m not sure what to expect because this is the first go-round with this. What I’m hoping for is maybe I can get through some of that stuff in warm-up. You see all those guys out there in the jersey you wore for a long time over there, but once the game hits and you start getting involved and playing, hopefully it’s just another game where you go out there and have a job to do and you go out there and do it."
Jhonas Enroth is a picture of calm all the time. The Sabres' goaltender never seems emotional, and that was the case again this morning as he prepared for his start against the Calgary Flames.
As Sabreland buzzed about the virtues of Ryan Miller and whether he should start tonight, Enroth went about his usual routine of minding his business and stopping pucks. He'll get the chance to do it again after stopping all 15 in relief of Miller during Wednesday's 3-2 loss to Philadelphia.
He's not taking anything into First Niagara Center tonight other than it'll be his third start of the year and fourth appearance.
"It’s a hockey game," Enroth said. "Just go out there and play."
Patrick Kaleta, meanwhile, will not go out and play. The right winger will begin serving his four-game suspension for a head-butt delivered Wednesday.
"Obviously, disappointing I can't be out there with my teammates," he said. "I was going for the puck. I was trying to push the guy off the puck. ... Sometimes you have setbacks, but you can't let it slow you down."
The absence of Kaleta sets up right wing Corey Tropp for his NHL debut. The 22-year-old had four goals and seven points in the opening 10 games in Rochester.
"It's a dream come true to play your first NHL hockey game," Tropp said. "I'm pretty excited."
To hear from Tropp, Kaleta and coach Lindy Ruff, click the audio files below.
The Sabres are giving Ryan Miller another day to work on his game. The goaltender is on the ice for extra work while Jhonas Enroth is already in the dressing room preparing for his start tonight against the Calgary Flames.
Coach Lindy Ruff said he'd stick to his goalie schedule after Miller lasted less than seven minutes in Wednesday's 3-2 loss to Philadelphia. Miller will start Saturday in Ottawa.
While Lindy Ruff wouldn't say which game Jhonas Enroth would start this weekend after confirming that he and No. 1 goalie Ryan Miller would split starts this weekend as scheduled, we'd like to know if you have a preference on who you'd like to see play in Friday's game against the Calgary Flames.
Of course, your vote may matter here but it doesn't in Ruff's world.
With Jochen Hecht (concussion) and Tyler Ennis (ankle) sidelined by injuries and Patrick Kaleta suspended four games by the NHL for a head-butt in Wednesday's game, the Sabres have called up forward Corey Tropp from Rochester of the American Hockey League.
It's the first recall of Tropp's career. He had 10 goals and 30 assists last year in the AHL. In 10 games this season, he shares the Amerks lead in goals (four) and has seven points.
Tropp was selected by the Sabres in the third round (89th overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
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.
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.