March 8, 2012 - 5:13 PM
BOSTON -- The Sabres will again turn to newcomer Alexander Sulzer on defense tonight against Boston, with blue-liner Andrej Sekera sidelined by flu-like symptoms. Sekera did not even make the trip to Boston with the Sabres but could join the team in Ottawa if his health improves.
Forward Cody McCormick, who has been sidelined by a concussion, has been cleared to play. The tough winger will take part in the pregame warm-up against the Bruins in TD Garden but is likely to sit.
Jochen Hecht, who also has a concussion, has "good days and bad days," according to coach Lindy Ruff. It remains unlikely the 34-year-old will return this season.
To hear Ruff's pregame audio, click the file below.
March 8, 2012 - 11:08 AM
BOSTON – The Sabres, as expected with back-to-back games and an arduous schedule, have elected to hold a team meeting at the hotel in lieu of a full morning skate. They are scheduled to hold a Lindy Ruff-less optional in TD Garden, with Jhonas Enroth expected to take part.
The appearance of Enroth and absence of Ryan Miller doesn’t foretell which Buffalo netminder will be in the crease tonight against Boston. Enroth, who has made just one start in the past 22 games, would likely want to take a few pucks whether he was starting or watching from the bench just to make sure he stays sharp.
Miller, who has made those other 21 starts in the last 22 games, would likely get a day off from practice whether he was playing or not. With his workload and impressive run (12-3-3 in his last 18 decisions), getting rest would take priority over any practice session.
“I’m just trying to find rest where we can get it,” Miller said after Wednesday night’s 3-2 overtime victory against Carolina. “That’s going to be the way the season goes from here on out. We’ve got a lot of hockey and a lot of games that mean a lot. Just rest when you can, play hockey when you have to.”
March 7, 2012 - 12:11 PM
Lots of little stories that can brew into bigger ones surrounding tonight's Sabres-Hurricanes game in First Niagara Center. The Sabres had a full morning skate today, with even Lindy Ruff on the ice in Buffalo for the first time since his collision with Jordan Leopold last month (Ruff started skating on the team's road trip). Here's the quick rundown:
---Ryan Miller will play in net tonight, making his 21st start in the last 22 games and his 10th straight. (He's 6-1-1 in the last eight with a 1.60 GAA and .952 save percentage). Miller said he was tired Monday in Winnipeg but told coach Lindy Ruff this morning he was feeling fresher. Still, Ruff admitted that backup Jhonas Enroth -- who is winless since Nov. 26 -- is going to have to play soon, perhaps as early as Thursday night in Boston.
"We got some back-to-back games Jhonas will have to play that will be demanding on us," Ruff said. "To come back and have to play four [games] in six [nights] is a tough test. We know Jhonas will have to step in for one of those."
---At least at the morning skate, Ruff didn't shuffle his lines. Derek Roy remained between Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville even though the trio has no points and is a combined minus-12 over the last three games. In the last six games, they have three points and are minus-13.
Ruff did, however, say that he was "still chewin' on that one" when asked if he might switch things up tonight. Translation: Pay attention in the second period.
"You score one goal and the puck starts following you for some reason,' said Roy. "Then you get another couple. You have to work together."
Vanek, who has four goals since the calendar hit 2012, pushed away several questions about whether he's got a lingering shoulder problem.
"I'm pretty good. You always have bumps and bruises during the year but those are no excuses," he said. "It's not an issue for me. I don't worry about that too much. It's a game of confidence. I just haven't got myself into spots where I can get those shots away."
---Cody Hodgson makes his home debut tonight. As will likely be the case with most of his home games, he'll have lots of family here. Hodgson has no points but is plus-2 in four games since coming from Vancouver,
"I'm excited, excited to meet the fans and get to know them," Hodgson said.
Of course he hasn't been here long -- and he's leaving again right after the game for the trip to Boston and Ottawa. "That's hockey. That's life really," he said. "I can't get too used to it but I'm happy to be here and getting more comfortable."
---The Canes did not skate today after last night's overtime win in Washington. They're last in the NHL with eight road wins but one was here Oct. 14, when they scored two short-handed goals to hand the Sabres a 4-3 defeat in the home opener.
Click below to hear audio from this morning's sessions:
March 7, 2012 - 10:23 AM
For now at least, Lindy Ruff hasn't changed the Sabres' lines.
The Internet wolves are howling about getting Derek Roy out of the middle between Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville but it hasn't happened at today's morning skate. It's status quo as it was on the road trip. That means the struggling top line is still together and the lines remain:
All seven defensemen are on the ice, as are both goalies. Will be interesting to see who goes tonight. UPDATE: It's going to be Miller, according to Lindy Ruff.
It's the first time at FNC for Cody Hodgson and Alexander Sulzer since the trade with Vancouver. Ruff is also on the ice. He rejoined the team on the road trip, but this is his first time back on the ice at home since he broke three ribs last month during a practice collision with Jordan Leopold.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff faces tough goaltending questions, including whether to use Miller in Boston
March 6, 2012 - 2:42 PM
YWG -- The Sabres' immediate schedule -- they host Carolina on Wednesday and visit Boston on Thursday -- leaves coach Lindy Ruff with tough goaltending questions.
He could continue to ride Ryan Miller, who has started 19 of the last 20 games. If he chooses to give the netminder a day off, the question becomes which game to use Jhonas Enroth.
The backup is 2-0 against the Hurricanes in his career with a 0.49 goals-against average and .986 save percentage. Carolina, though, is in 14th place and seems an easier target than Northeast Division-leading Boston. The coach could decide to run his top player out against the weaker team to ensure a two-point showing.
If Ruff does go with Enroth at home and use Miller on Thursday, he’s sending the reigning First Star of the Week into what’s sure to be a ravenous environment. The Sabres haven’t been to Boston since Nov. 12, the date of the infamous collision between Milan Lucic and Miller.
The aggressive team and crowd in Boston would no doubt salivate at the chance to torment the goalie who has beaten the Bruins twice in the last month, allowing just one goal in the process.
March 6, 2012 - 1:20 PM
YWG -- The Sabres are airborne, having left the prairie behind on their way to Buffalo. (Alas, I have more than two hours remaining in the Winnipeg airport, followed by a two-hour layover in Chicago. Oh well.) It seemed like a quality road trip for the Sabres, who went 3-1.
The loss, though, hit them hard in the standings. The 3-1 defeat Monday in Winnipeg was one of those "four-point games" coaches point to as critical.
"If anybody would’ve said before you leave you win three out of four you’d be pretty happy," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We just lost to the wrong team."
While it's true Buffalo wouldn't have been in position to climb into eighth had they not won the first three games, they could have lost one of those and been in better position. Consider:
If Buffalo had lost to Vancouver, it would have been four points behind the Jets entering their matchup. A win by the Sabres over Winnipeg puts them two points back with a game at hand. As it is now, this version of a 3-1 road trip left them four points back with a game at hand.
"This one stings, but overall I thought it was a good trip," left wing Thomas Vanek said. "We carried some momentum going home. This time of the year, you win one, you put it behind you. You lose one, you put it behind you. That’s the mentality as a team right now."
The Sabres will take today off, but they have to pack again Wednesday. They'll host Carolina on Wednesday night, then depart immediately for Thursday's game in Boston and Saturday's outing in Ottawa.
"We’re not going to be home much," captain Jason Pominville said, "but the game that we are home we’ve got to make sure we play well and win a game."
March 5, 2012 - 2:50 PM
WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Ryan Miller played like a star last week, and the NHL formally recognized it today. The Sabres' goaltender earned First Star of the Week honors after going 3-0 to help Buffalo get on the edge of a playoff spot.
Miller stopped 82 shots in back-to-back blankings of Anaheim and San Jose, then played well in a 5-3 victory over Vancouver. He'll be in net again tonight when the Sabres visit Winnipeg with eighth place in the Eastern Conference available for the winner.
"We know that he’s the most important piece to our team, and he puts a lot of confidence in our team when he plays well," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said in MTS Centre.
Defenseman Robyn Regehr, who missed the Vancouver game with knee injury, made it through today's morning skate and hopes to face the Jets.
"I hope to play tonight," Regehr said. "I skated a little bit yesterday and felt OK, and today I felt a little bit better. ... It’s good enough to play."
Regehr got hurt Thursday in San Jose on a check delivered by Patrick Marleau.
"My whole body was past him except my trailing leg, and then he came in and finished his check and that’s what was left to hit," Regehr said. "I aggravated it a little bit, but the good news is there’s no major damage. I just have regular knees like guys in here who are used to the wear and tear of the game."
Sabres forward Marcus Foligno, who left Winnipeg on Sunday after being an emergency recall for the Vancouver outing, flew back to the prairie today on another emergency recall.
"It’s been nuts, but it’s where you want to be so you’ve got to do it," he told The News.
March 4, 2012 - 12:13 PM
YVR -- Good morning from the Vancouver airport, where I await the flight to Winnipeg.
The Sabres dropped the Canucks on Saturday night, a win that moved them to 6-0-2 in the last eight. They are just two points behind Winnipeg with a game in hand, and they visit the Jets on Monday,
Flight is about to board, but here's audio from the Vancouver win.
March 3, 2012 - 3:46 PM
VANCOUVER -- Zack Kassian wants to prove his worth to two teams tonight. The Vancouver forward, acquired from Buffalo on Monday, is eager to showcase his skills for the team that got rid of him and the team that wanted him.
"I have something to prove to the Sabres and Vancouver," Kassian said today in Rogers Arena. "As a young player in this league, you have to make a name for yourself."
Kassian was shocked to be part of General Manager Darcy Regier's deal that brought center Cody Hodgson to Buffalo.
"Hockey's a business," Kassian said. "If he feels that was the right move, Darcy, so be it. I think I'm a young player. I still have a lot to prove. I'm just looking forward to getting the opportunity."
Another player innvolved in the trade who is getting a chance is defenseman Alexander Sulzer. The Sabres will be without Robyn Regehr, who is listed as day-to-day with an injury to his hip area, so Sulzer will make his Buffalo debut.
Sulzer will be paired with fellow German Christian Ehrhoff. The other defense partners will be Jordan Leopold and Tyler Myers, and Andrej Sekera and Mike Weber.
Forward Marcus Foligno has joined the Sabres on a recall from Rochester. With Regehr out, Buffalo had no extra skaters. The presence of Foligno provides insurance for any late scratches, though coach Lindy Ruff did not rule out the possibility of Foligno playing tonight.
March 3, 2012 - 12:24 PM
VANCOUVER -- The Canucks are legitimate Stanley Cup hopefuls this season after coming within a game of the title last year. Who would want out of that situation?
Maybe Cody Hodgson.
There is speculation in Vancouver that the center or someone associated with him asked for a trade. He was playing less than 13 minutes per game yet still had 16 goals and 33 points, and he also had a public lashing by coach Alain Vigneault.
Upon arriving back in Vancouver as a member of the Sabres, Hodgson repeatedly dodged questions about a trade request.
"Like I said to a couple guys beforehand, I really enjoyed my time here," Hodgson said. "I got along well with the organization, the staff, the players. It’s tough to leave, but at the same time I know it’s a new home in Buffalo, and I’m looking forward to meeting the fans there and getting to know everyone there."
So he didn't ask for a trade?
"Like I told many guys beforehand, I was as shocked as anybody," Hodgson said. "But I don’t want to go back. Even when I played here the whole time I never went back and thought of readdressing old issues and that kind of stuff. I just wanted to go play, and that’s what I want to do now. I’ve got a new team with Buffalo and good guys, and hopefully things will work out."
Hodgson's agent, Ritch Winter, posted on Twitter earlier this week that Hodgson "never demanded ice-time or trade" but the tweet has since been deleted.
The full Hodgson audio is below.
March 2, 2012 - 5:07 PM
VANCOUVER -- The Sabres landed in town early this morning, and as the bus started rolling Christian Ehrhoff saw a lot of familiar sights. The Buffalo defenseman spent the previous two seasons in Vancouver, and he's ready to face his old team Saturday night.
"I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be fun," Ehrhoff said today at the team hotel. "I think I might get booed. We’ll see."
The Canucks elected not to re-sign the defenseman as free agency approached last summer. They dealt his rights to the Islanders, who couldn't sign him and in turn traded him to Buffalo for the same draft pick (a fourth-rounder) they gave up. He signed a 10-year, $40 million deal with the Sabres.
"It was a business decision by [Canucks General Manager] Mike Gillis, and I moved on," Ehrhoff said. "I’m happy where I’m at right now. We’ll see how the fans saw that transaction. That’s going to determine if they boo me or cheer."
Ehrhoff and the Sabres stayed off the ice to rest following back-to-back games in Anaheim and San Jose.
"With two late nights in a row and back-to-back games, the best thing we can do is just rest," coach Lindy Ruff said.
The coach had no further update on defenseman Robyn Regehr, who was set to be evaluated after suffering a lower-body injury Thursday night. If Regehr is ruled out, the Sabres could recall a defenseman or use Alexander Sulzer. He is also making a return to Vancouver after being dealt to Buffalo on Monday as part of the Cody Hodgson-Zack Kassian transaction.
It would be the first appearance for Sulzer, who was scratched in his first two games with the Sabres.
"I don’t know a lot about him," Ruff said. "I’m not going to sit here and tell you a lot of great things or bad things. I don’t know a lot. The proof will be in the pudding if we play him."
March 2, 2012 - 9:57 AM
SFO -- Good (early) morning from San Francisco airport, where I await the flight to Vancouver.
The Sabres are already there, and Ryan Miller arrived with back-to-back shutouts. He's totaled 82 saves in a 2-0 win over Anaheim and Thursday's 1-0 victory over San Jose. The goaltender says he's not doing it alone.
"It was a great job by our guys to show some fight in first period there and get a lead, then we could battle from there," Miller said. "Again, I had my guys around me. I could make my reads, make my plays."
We'll have more from Vancouver later. For now, here is the postgame audio from Miller and coach Lindy Ruff.
March 1, 2012 - 1:00 PM
SAN FRANCISCO -- Tyler Myers finally had to throw his height around. It felt good.
The Sabres' 6-foot-8 defenseman earned his first NHL fighting major Wednesday night after the final horn went in Buffalo's 2-0 victory over Anaheim. He went toe-to-toe with Sheldon Brookbank, who was taking part in his 42nd battle, according to HockeyFights.com.
"It’s nice to finally get it out of the way," Myers said in Anaheim before flying north for tonight's game in San Jose. "You could tell I didn’t really know what I was doing out there, but it’s always good to get the first one out of the way. Now if it presents itself again, I’ll have a little bit of an understanding of how to approach it."
Myers felt he had little choice but to jump in to help teammate Patrick Kaleta.
"I saw Brookbank having words with Patty," Myers said. "As soon as I saw [Bobby] Ryan jump in with Patty I figured I should step in and prevent anybody from getting to him. We just ended up dropping them."
March 1, 2012 - 8:16 AM
LAX -- Good (very early) morning from the airport in L.A., where I await my 6 a.m. flight to the home of the 2010 World Series champions, San Francisco.
The Sabres visit the San Jose Sharks tonight and attempt to run their streak of games without a regulation loss to seven. Ryan Miller made it 4-0-2 with a record-setting 43-save shutout in Anaheim on Wednesday night, while Cody Hodgson had a solid debut in the 2-0 win over the Ducks.
Hear from them and coach Lindy Ruff below.
March 1, 2012 - 1:50 AM
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller set a franchise regular-season record with a 43-save performance, the most stops in a shutout in team history, as Buffalo beat Anaheim, 2-0.
Miller: "There's good hockey being played here for sure. ... It was fun. We have some family here – obviously the wife, the sister-in-law and some friends – so it ended up being a nice game."
Tyler Myers: "He was really good. You could tell throughout the whole game he was very calm, very confident. He plays like that he’s going to give us a chance to win every game.
"We’re going to have to put together quite a run here to try and make the playoffs, but we’re starting to play the hockey we should have been playing all year. If we continue this these last 19 games, we may give ourselves a shot."
Brad Boyes, who ended a 22-game scoring drought: "I didn’t even see it. I knew [Christian Ehrhoff] was shooting. I was like, 'Oh, man, here it is,' because he’s got a bullet, but it was good to get a piece of it. To chip in and help out, it’s nice."
Cody Hodgson: "It’s a great opportunity here. We’ve got a lot of youth and skill, and I’m happy to be part of it. It’s tough to hold Anaheim to scoreless game, and I thought we did a great job."
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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, is in his sixth season covering the Buffalo Sabres. 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.
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