Thomas Vanek thought his hip was broken. Christian Ehrhoff's slap shot plunked the Sabres forward directly on the hip bone Tuesday, and Vanek seized up immediately.
"I got hit on the bone, and it just kind of froze me for two days," Vanek said today in First Niagara Center. "I couldn’t move, couldn’t do anything. Late last night it felt a little better, and this morning I woke up and had most of my motion back. I felt pretty good skating."
He felt so good that he's ready to return to the lineup Saturday in Montreal after sitting out Thursday's 5-4 shootout win over Toronto.
Toronto will be without one of its more potent offensive weapons when it visits Buffalo tonight.
The NHL has suspended Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul for two games for a hit to the head of Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman on Wednesday night. The first game will be against the Sabres in First Niagara Center.
"Lupul approaches from the side and recklessly targets Hedman's head by elevating and making it the principal point of contact," the NHL department of player safety said in its suspension video.
Lupul, who has missed most of the season with a broken arm, has three goals and four points in five games. The suspension will cost him $45,945.94.
Leading scorer Thomas Vanek will not play tonight when the Buffalo Sabres host the Toronto Maple Leafs in First Niagara Center, interim coach Ron Rolston said this morning.
Vanek was hit by a Christian Ehrhoff shot Tuesday night in the second period of the Sabres' game in Montreal.
"He's better today," Rolston said. "He feels, actually, good. We're starting the process, so we're hoping to get him on the ice tomorrow."
It looks like Vanek will be joined in the press box by forward Nathan Gerbe, who's expected to be a healthy scratch for the second straight game.
"I think he's working hard, but we have to make some tough decisions right now in our lineup," Rolston said of Gerbe. "I can only have 12 forwards in there and [he] was a player that I think
didn't give us a reason to keep him in right now. And that's what he has to work
Burly forward John Scott is expected to be back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the past three games.
Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black was in Rochester this morning to make an official announcement regarding a a regular-season outdoor game being played in December by the NHL club's top affiliate, the Americans.
That game will be part of a 10-day outdoor hockey festival that will take place at Frontier Field, home of the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings. The Amerks will kick off the event against an opponent to be determined, while the Rochester Institute of Technology will hold a men's and women's hockey doubleheader. The RIT men's team will host Atlantic Hockey rival Niagara, while the women will play Clarkson.
The rink will also host several Section V hockey games, and blocks of ice time will also be made available to the public for various events.
"We are extremely excited to work with our community partners in
bringing outdoor hockey to Rochester," Black said in a news release announcing the event. "While the chance to play an outdoor game
will be an exciting opportunity for our players and coaches, the event
as a whole will allow the entire community to share in a special
The festival will be run from Dec. 13-22. Exact dates and ticket information will be announced at a later date.
Joffrey Lupul has played just five games this season because of a broken arm. The Toronto forward likely won't play his sixth against the Sabres tonight.
Lupul has a disciplinary hearing with the NHL this afternoon after hitting Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman in the head Wednesday night. Hedman had just passed the puck and wasn't looking toward Lupul when the forward put his left shoulder into Hedman's head.
A suspension would be announced before the Sabres and Maple Leafs face off at 7 p.m.
Lupul has three goals and four points in his five games.
It appears the Sabres' minor-league club will follow its parent by playing a game outside.
The Amerks have called a news conference for Thursday morning and are expected to announce they will play in December in Frontier Field, the home of Rochester's minor-league baseball team.
Sabres/Amerks President Ted Black will be part of the news conference, as will the men's and women's hockey coaches from the Rochester Institute of Technology. RIT is expected to be part of the outdoor event.
The Sabres hosted the inaugural Winter Classic on New Year's Day 2008 in Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Thomas Vanek was too hobbled to skate with his Sabres teammates today, but interim coach Ron Rolston is holding on to a glimmer of hope that Buffalo's leading scorer can play Thursday when Toronto visits First Niagara Center.
Vanek got plunked on the hip by teammate Christian Erhoff's slap shot Tuesday night and left the 3-2 overtime victory in Montreal.
"He’s a little bit better, but he’s still going to be day-to-day in what he can tolerate," Rolston said. "He’s certainly a possibility, but we’ll have to see how he is in the morning, how he’s moving more than anything."
Andrej Sekera (upper body) practiced today but ruled himself out for the game against the Leafs.
"It’s still weak and in pain," Sekera said. "Not quite there yet. I can skate, it’s no problem. The trouble is shooting, battling and stuff like that. I can keep my legs, which is pretty good."
Rookie Mark Pysyk will play his third NHL game in place of Sekera.
"I’m just thankful every day that I’m up here and just trying to stay as long as I can," Pysyk said. "Who knows how long that may be, but another game tomorrow night, keep the fun going."
MONTREAL -- We'll start with the cockeyed optimist approach. The Sabres' 3-2 overtime victory over the Canadiens has them just six points behind a logjam of teams (Carolina, Toronto, Rangers, New Jersey) that are tied for spots 6-9 in the Eastern Conference. And it came on a day the team actually sent out playoff invoices to season ticket holders that said it needed to be prepared "so that tickets are available WHEN the Sabres clinch a playoff spot." (I put the capitals in for emphasis). Ooooook.
I've stopped laughing now. The realistic approach is that they're still 13th in the East and they still have the league's worst power play. But the line shifts by Ron Rolston looked good until Thomas Vanek got hurt, the power play is starting to get more pressure and Jhonas Enroth has suddenly became as reliable as Ryan Miller.
After all the rigamarole over the last three days, this team is nothing but interesting no matter where its place in the standings is. Enough talking from me. Let them talk after the win.
MONTREAL -- Thomas Vanek has two goals in the last 11 games, while Jason Pominville has two in his last 12 (and none in the last seven), so interim coach Ron Rolston is breaking up his top line for tonight's game in the Bell Centre.
Vanek will skate with Tyler Ennis and Ville Leino, while Steve Ott moves to the No. 1 unit with Pominville and Cody Hodgson. The line of Marcus Foligno-Kevin Porter-Brian Flynn stays intact while the fourth line will be Drew Stafford-Patrick Kaleta-Jochen Hecht.
"We're not winning as much as we want so obviously we're going to change things up but it doesn't matter," Vanek said. "Whoever you play with you try to make the best out of it. I've always said it doesn't matter who you play with, how much. You're a professional and you move on and deal with it.
MONTREAL -- The Sabres have hugged it out and Patrick Kaleta is back in the lineup tonight at the Bell Centre.
That was the mood of the dressing room after today's pregame skate. Kaleta, suspended for five games and held out Sunday for another, was greeted by a swarm of Montreal media in the wake of Sunday's kerfluffle in Washington and said he had no issue with what Ryan Miller said after the game.
(The Sabres did not make Miller available to the media today even though Jhonas Enroth is starting; Miller, like many goalies, does not speak prior to games in which he is playing).
"He's like my brother, one of my best friends on the team," Kaleta said of Miller, his former road roommate. "Some things were misunderstood there but we're family. Our season hasn't gone the way we wanted it to go and everyone knows that. Our job is to come together as a team and go out there and battle."
MONTREAL -- Quick notes from the end of the Sabres' morning skate:
---Interim coach Ron Rolston said after Sunday's game he might break up the top line and he made good on the thought today. Thomas Vanek has been dropped to the second trio and replaced by Steve Ott. Patrick Kaleta is also back in after missing six games, five on his suspension and Sunday's as a healthy scratch.
The lines were Ott-Hodgson-Pominville, Vanek-Ennis-Leino, Foligno-Porter-Flynn, Hecht-Stafford-Kaleta. The scratches are Gerbe and Scott.
---Jhonas Enroth will be in goal in place of Ryan Miller. He's 2-0 in three games against the Habs in his career with a 2.42 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.
The view from the media gallery at Habs practice in Brossard.
By Mike Harrington
BROSSARD, Quebec -- In the wake of last night's loss in Washington and, shall we say, interesting postgame session, the Sabres are taking today off. (While it may seem merciful, it's actually a CBA-mandated day).
Meanwhile, I've arrived in the Montreal suburbs for the Habs' practice in their palatial facility that includes replica retired numbers and Stanley Cup banners in the rafters of the main rink. Quite cool.
On the way here, I chatted with the good men on SiriusXM's Hockey This Morning about all things Sabres. Click below to hear the audio of that chat.
WASHINGTON -- Ryan Miller was understandably annoyed I asked him about Patrick Kaleta in the wake of another frustrating loss. Kaleta didn't play in the game and that kind of question is thus usually a no-go in a postgame setting.
But when Kaleta popped off about being scratched earlier Sunday, the rest of the team had already left after their morning skate. This was the first chance to get reaction so I asked. And Miller certainly reacted.
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.