WASHINGTON -- Rick Jeanneret has been calling Sabres games for more than 40 years. The butterflies have long since disappeared.
Still, he's a little anxious as the puck gets ready to drop for the Sabres and Capitals.
"We’ll find out how rusty I am very shortly," Jeanneret said this afternoon during a broadcast booth chat in Verizon Center. "I’m long past
the days of being nervous, but I am anticipating it quite a bit because I’m not
so sure I’m going to be right up to snuff to begin with here. I think once
things get under way, I’ll be fine."
Jeanneret is back after missing the opening four games with an illness that required a brief hospitalization. He's spent the last week recuperating and following doctor's orders.
"I spent a lot of time with the iPad and a lot of time on the Kindle reading," he said. "I really didn’t do a whole lot more than that. I was told to
rest, and I tried to keep my nose to the grindstone and obey the orders. That’s
basically all I was doing.
"I did keep in touch with the team, and they were
letting me know what was happening. Mostly, from the top down, they just said, 'Stay away and get better. Don’t even think about coming back until you are.' It
was the typical Buffalo Sabres’ treatment of employees. It was top shelf."
"It's like burning a game," Ruff admitted when I asked if it might have been better to simply scratch Grigorenko rather than dress him and not use him. Ruff then admitted that getting the rookie added practice time might be in the cards, so the team isn't forced into a decision just yet.
Part of it is out of necessity as Thomas Vanek is not on the ice. Ruff said after the 3-1 loss to Carolina that Vanek would likely get today off after taking a tumble during the game and suffering an undetermined muscle strain (looked like a hard fall on his back).
Still, with only one goal from a forward in four games other than the line of Vanek-Hodgson-Pominville, things have to change. Here's how Ruff has the lines put together today:
One of the bizarre moments of the NHL's first week came last night when Sabres winger Nathan Gerbe -- in his first game back after summer spinal surgery -- took a cheap hit from Carolina's Drayson Bowman and then tried to get in a few words with Hurricanes forward Chad LaRose.
But referee Dan O'Hallaron got in the way -- and got physical with Gerbe as well. Something tells me the stripes wouldn't have done that to too many other players. Especially ones who aren't 5-foot-5. That's got to be a reprimand and/or a fine for O'Hallaron but you won't hear about that one publicly.
It was an optional morning skate for the Sabres today in preparation for tonight's game against Carolina. Ryan Miller will be in goal, likely against Hurricanes backup Dan Ellis. The Sabres aren't expected to make any lineup changes, and coach Lindy Ruff said he's not looking to shift any lines yet, even though only Thomas Vanek-Cody Hodgson-Jason Pominville is producing any offense.
"The great thing is we got one of the hottest lines in the league," Ruff said of the trio, which has eight of the team's 10 goals. "The bad thing is it's the only line that's scoring right now. But I would take three goals out of a hot line over maybe two goals from two different lines."
One of the few guys on the ice was winger Ville Leino, who skated hard for 20-25 minutes before coming off the ice. Leino has yet to play this season with what has been revealed to be an injury to his right hip.
Don't look for any changes in the Sabres' lineup tonight for the 7 p.m. rematch against Carolina. The only players skating this morning in First Niagara Center are regular scratches Mike Weber, T.J. Brennan and Matt Ellis, and injured forwards Cody McCormick and Ville Leino.
The Oilers tied the game, or so it seemed, with 1:05 left on a goal by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. But after a sudden discussion by officials, the goal was wiped out due to goaltender interference and fans at Rexall Place erupted. The ice was showered with debris and the game was delayed for about 10 minutes.
When it resumed, the Oilers scored the tying goal (again) as No. 1 overall pick Nail Yakupov swatted a rebound out of mid-air past Jonathan Quick with 4.7 seconds left -- and then took off down the ice for a knee-sliding celebration that reminded everyone of Theo Fleury circa 1991. Sam Gagner won the game with a goal in OT. With young stars all over, Edmonton has been great fun to watch so far.
If Mikhail Grigorenko plays both games of the back-to-back set with Carolina (the
Sabres visit the Hurricanes tonight and host them Friday), Grigorenko will have used up four
games of his five-game tryout.
Sabres say they’re still deciding whether to keep the 18-year-old or
return him to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Quebec coach
Patrick Roy told the Canadian Press he doesn’t expect the center to
It appears Nathan Gerbe may be ready to rejoin the Sabres.
Gerbe, who started the season on injured reserve after back surgery, is skating on the third line this morning with center Mikhail Grigorenko and wing Steve Ott. Coach Lindy Ruff will give an official statement on Gerbe's status following practice, but the winger's placement with the regulars is a strong indicator he will play Thursday in Carolina.
Ville Leino, meanwhile, is absent from practice. He's been dealing with a leg injury and missed the opening two games. He skated with Girgorenko and Ott throughout training camp and participated in Monday's morning skate in Toronto on a limited basis.
The other lines for Buffalo during practice are: Thomas Vanek-Cody Hodgson-Jason Pominville; Marcus Foligno-Tyler Ennis-Drew Stafford; John Scott-Jochen Hecht-Patrick Kaleta; and Matt Ellis-Cody McCormick. All eight defensemen and two goaltenders are present.
One of the most popular men in the Sabres' organization will miss his third straight game Thursday.
Hall of Fame broadcaster Rick Jeanneret will not accompany the team to Carolina, he said this morning via text message. Though he's "getting there," the ill Jeanneret is not ready to join the team for its road trip.
There was no immediate word on who would replace Jeanneret in the broadcast booth. WGR's Paul Hamilton handled the radio-only broadcast Sunday versus Philadelphia, while the Sabres' Kevin Sylvester did Monday's television/radio simulcast in Toronto.
The Sabres have announced the return of family packs for select Silver level home games. The packs are priced at $199 and include four 300 Level II tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas and four boxes of popcorn. The team says the savings of each pack is $104 over actual price.
The packs can be purchased for Silver games beginning with Friday's visit by Carolina.
Other games available are Jan. 29 vs. Toronto, Feb. 7 vs. Montreal, March 2 vs. New Jersey, March 31 vs. Boston, April 11 vs. Montreal and April 14 vs. Tampa Bay. Tickets can be purchased at Sabres.com
The team is also renewing its "Student Surge" promotion for college students. Canisius is the sponsor and its students with valid ID can purchase 300 Level II seats normally priced from $39-$78 for just $25 on campus for all remaining games
A limited supply will also be available at Sabres.com to students from all other schools. Students may purchase one discounted ticket per ID and must present the ID at the FNC box office to pick up the tickets.
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, 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.