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Laviolette staying in Philly but Tambellini out as GM in Edmonton

By Mike Harrington

The Flyers looked like Dead Team Skating when they were here Saturday afternoon and I know I wasn't the only one thinking Lindy Ruff might have a chance at a small measure of revenge against Peter Laviolette for 2006 by taking his job behind the Flyers' bench next season.

From the sounds of things coming out of Montreal today, it looks like that's not going to happen.

As reported by Sam Carchidi in the Philadelphia Inquirer, General Manager Paul Holmgren said today that injuries are at the root of the Flyers' evils and "I haven’t even thought along those lines" when asked directly if he was considering a coaching change.

Continue reading "Laviolette staying in Philly but Tambellini out as GM in Edmonton" »

Video: Sabres react after 3-1 win over Lightning

Sabres win back-to-back games with Enroth in goal.

 

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Enroth gets another start in goal

Jhonas
Jhonas Enroth leads the Sabres out for warmups today. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News

 

By Mike Harrington

So are the Sabres simply riding the hot hand or is there a statement about the future being made today in goal?

Jhonas Enroth is getting his second straight start in today's 5 p.m. game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Fair enough. He's hot, coming off a 29-save shutout yesterday against Philadelphia and with marks of 3-0-1, 1.46, .955 in his last four starts.

But this is just the second time in at least seven years Ryan Miller has not started in consecutive games when healthy. The other two occasions: Enroth played in a 2-1 win vs. Calgary on Nov. 4, 2011 and a 3-2 win at Ottawa on Nov. 5, 2011; and Martin Biron split a 7-2 win at Nashville with a 3-2 loss at St. Louis on Dec. 21 and 23, 2006. 

Miller dressed as the backup yesterday and there is zero indication he is injured; he took warmups fully prior to both games.

(Miller also sat on Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2007 but that was because Lindy Ruff gave him extra rest when returning from the NHL All-Star Game)

Miller, of course, was the subject of wide speculation at the trade deadline and is widely expected to be available after the season heading into the draft because he has just one year left on his contract.

It's all pretty interesting. Interim coach Ron Rolston would not divulge his starting goalie when we talked to him in the 3 o'clock hour. He confirmed Enroth was fine after getting bumped in the neck yesterday, saying, "He's fine. He's ready to ... " and then stopping himself before finishing the sentence by saying, "he's available." Hmmm.

Now we know why the hesitation. Pretty interesting.

Same lineup as yesterday, meaning Luke Adam is the healthy scratch. By the way, Mathieu Garon is in net for Tampa. Ben Bishop has started six straight since being acquired from Ottawa but the Lightning played an overtime game last night in Washington -- plus Garon is 4-1, 1.40, .943 in his last five starts against the Sabres. That includes the 2-1 win in Tampa on March 26.

Be sure to join me at 5 for today's live blog and we'll again have a FlashChat in the second intermission.

Live from First Niagara Center: Lightning at Sabres

From the locker room: A shutout of the Flyers


Chad Ruhwedel speaking to reporters after the game. (Sabres.com)

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres had a nice bounceback from Thursday's no-show with a 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday. Another strong outing from Jhonas Enroth and a crazy good debut from Chad Ruhwedel. Click the file above to watch Ruhwedel's chat after the game and the audio files below to go around the room

Ron Rolston

Jhonas Enroth

Christian Ehrhoff

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Pegula: 'We'll move forward and do the right thing'

By Mike Harrington

In his first words to the media since the day before one of the most disappointing seasons in Sabres history, owner Terry Pegula acknowledged building his team might be a slower process than he thought, especially with the speedy pace of what figures to be a spectacular HarborCenter project.

"It's going faster than we thought, right Cliff?" Pegula said, turning to chief devlopment office and HarborCenter domo Cliff Benson.

The same, of course, can't be said about his hockey team. The Sabres enter today's game against Philadelphia in 11th place in the East and 23rd in the NHL. They're about to miss the playoffs for the fourth time in six years.

"I just look at it optimistically. We'll move forward and do the right thing," Pegula said.

Sabres vice president Mike Gilbert made a couple of efforts to steers questions back to HarborCenter but Pegula did speak in limted tones about the current state of the team.

On the firing of Lindy Ruff: "I don't need to answer that now. This is a different topic today." Told that people wanted to hear his opinion, Pegula said, "Why don't you figure that one out?"

On whether he will address the media and fans after the season,  since the team no-showed the media after last season: "We'll see." Asked what that meant, Pegula shot back, "Yeah, we'll see, that's what I said."

On the building of the team mirroring the building of HarborCenter: "One team wins the Stanley Cup every year. We will build towards that goal. We're daily working on that goal."

Pegula then noted that it was 39 years for Boston Bruins owner and WNY native Jeremy Jacobs to win a Cup before the Bs did in 2011. Pegula, of course, had made it clear he had a three-year vision when he took over the Sabres in 2011.

"Jerry Jacobs down the road took 39 years to win a Stanley Cup. I don't know how long," Pegula said. "How can you guarantee anybody anything? You do your best every year. When's the last time the New England Patriots won the Stanley Cup? Or the Super Bowl?"

I reminded Pegula the Pats don't regularly miss the playoffs and he said, "Well, hey." Whatever that means.

Pegula agreed with the notion the Sabres have to go younger and use more prospects. He wasn't asked about the status of GM Darcy Regier. That question was probably going to end the press conference and, frankly, it's getting clear Regier is staying.

In other items, Pegula said he's definitely interested in pursuing the return of the World Junior Championships to Buffalo (they were here in 2011 but Niagara University's Dwyer Arena was used as a secondary rink and the 1,800-main rink at HarborCenter could easily suffice next time). He also said, "Why not?" when asked about a possible Penn State-Canisius game at HarborCenter.

Penn State, of course, is starting a Division I hockey program and building a rink (Pegula Ice Arena) with more than $100 million in donations from the Pegulas. Canisius is expected to move its games from Buffalo State to HarborCenter for the 2014-15 season.

You can click below to hear Pegula's speech to politicos on HarborCenter (did the best I could on audio, apologies in advance). You can also click to hear the testy session with reporters.

Terry Pegula speech on HarborCenter

Terry Pegula meeting with reporters

 

Live from First Niagara Center: Flyers at Sabres

Getting immediate shot with Sabres was part of deal with Ruhwedel, Regier says; Grigorenko coming back to organization

By John Vogl

The competition for college free agents can be fierce, especially when they have the talent to become All-American defensemen. NHL clubs need to add special incentives to get deals done, which how the Sabres got Chad Ruhwedel.

The team signed the much-lauded D-man from UMass Lowell to a two-year contract today, and Ruhwedel will make his debut this afternoon against Philadelphia.

The promise of playing time lured Ruhwedel.

"It’s what you have to do to get the player signed now," Buffalo General Manager Darcy Regier said outside First Niagara Center. "You have to make a commitment to put him on your roster, and so you have to have a comfort level with them playing some games here. That’s really part of the package.

Continue reading "Getting immediate shot with Sabres was part of deal with Ruhwedel, Regier says; Grigorenko coming back to organization" »

Sabres sign college All America Ruhwedel, who will make debut today against Flyers

By John Vogl

Chad Ruhwedel is under contract for the Sabres and will play today against Philadelphia, continuing a whirlwind weekend.

Buffalo signed the All America from UMass Lowell to a two-year contract today (terms were not immediately available), and he will be in the lineup this afternoon in First Niagara Center for the matinee with the Flyers.

Interim coach Ron Rolston said he doesn't know much about the 22-year-old and said two hours prior to puck drop that he has "no idea" who Ruhwedel will partner with along the blue line.

"I just I’ve watched him a little bit on film but don’t have a real solid feel," Rolston said. "He’s put some good numbers and he’s an All-American, so he’s got some ability.

"Just jumping in the lineup and playing an afternoon game against a lineup like Philly’s will be a challenge."

The Sabres chose to insert Ruhwedel on the same day he flew to town rather than call up a defensemen from Rochester to take the place of injured Tyler Myers.

"We just want to give him an opportunity here to see what he can do," said Rolston, who added college players usually are more ready for action than junior-level players. "They have a little more experience and maturity whether it’s in the game or in life, really, especially at college where there’s a lot of added responsibilities with scholastics and playing. The maturity level is usually a little bit higher, so that will give him an upper hand here."

Rolston refused to say who will start in goal. John Scott will return to the lineup after sitting last game as a healthy scratch.

Ron Rolston

Name to watch for Sabres fans: Chad Ruhwedel

By John Vogl

College hockey's All America team came out Friday, and among the first-teamers was UMass Lowell defenseman Chad Ruhwedel.

It's apparently possible that when the Sabres' roster for today's game against Philadelphia comes out, Ruhwedel will be on that, too.

Reports say the junior has left school to sign with the Sabres, but no contract has been filed with the league, The News has learned. Bob McKenzie of TSN reports that if a contract can be finalized by this afternoon, Ruhwedel will play against the Flyers.

A Sabres spokesman could not comment on the possibility.

The 22-year-old Ruhwedel is 5-foot-11, 188 pounds and a right-handed shot. The California native was also a Hockey East first-team selection after helping the River Hawks yield just 2.02 goals per game this season, fourth among NCAA Division I teams. He recorded seven goals, 16 assists and a plus-16 rating in 41 games for the Frozen Four semifinalists.

Ruhwedel played two seasons with Sioux Falls of the United States Hockey League before heading to UMass Lowell.

Considered a strong point at start of season, Sabres' defense has been decimated

By John Vogl

The Sabres sent Adam Pardy to the minors at the start of the year after designating him as their ninth-best defenseman. He'll be in the top four Saturday when Buffalo hosts Philadelphia.

Trades and injuries, including today's announcement that Tyler Myers is done for the year after breaking a bone in his leg, have decimated a defense that was once considered a team strong point.

Only two of the six players who started on opening day are still available to play, Christian Ehrhoff and Andrej Sekera. Myers and Alexander Sulzer are out with injuries, and the team traded Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr. Mike Weber, a season-opening scratch, remains, while T.J. Brennan, who also started the season in the press box, was dealt to Florida for a fifth-round pick.

Continue reading "Considered a strong point at start of season, Sabres' defense has been decimated" »

Video: Discussing Sabres & Ted Black comments

News Sports Columnists Bucky Gleason & Jerry Sullivan discussed the Sabres this morning on the Bucky & Sully Show:

Sabres' Myers done for year after breaking bone in his leg

By John Vogl

The Sabres' talent level, which has dropped significantly through trades recently, is going down again. The team announced today that defenseman Tyler Myers will miss the rest of the season with a broken bone in his leg.

Myers played a team-high 25:37 during the 5-1 loss to Montreal, including a final shift with 2:41 to go. He was particularly critical of the team following the game but didn't show signs of the ailment.

It's not yet known how Myers suffered the injury. He blocked a team-high four shots, including a close-range blast during a five-on-three power play for Montreal. He also blocked a shot by P.K. Subban with 2:56 to play during his final shift.

Myers has struggled for much of this season after reporting to the team out of shape. He has three goals, eight points and a minus-8 rating in 39 games. Nonetheless, he was second on the team in ice time per game at 21:18, and the Sabres will need to replace his minutes.

The Sabres' farm team in Rochester has been thin on defense, with the Amerks recently signing blue-liners Michael Wilson and Fredonia native Nick Bailen to pro and amateur tryout contracts, respectively. Top prospect Brayden McNabb is out for the year with an injury.

Alex Biega, a fifth-round pick by Buffalo in 2006, leads active Amerks defensemen with 22 points, including 18 assists, in 66 games.

Sabres take a licking, while Ott gives one

By John Vogl

The Sabres, to put it bluntly, got disgraced Thursday night during a 5-1 loss to Montreal. The Canadiens, meanwhile, punched their tickets to the playoffs.

Steve Ott, who's had a lot to say lately (as Bucky Gleason writes), made more noise with his tongue -- but not in the typical way. Ott attempted to lick former Dallas teammate Jeff Halpern during a faceoff. Here's the video.

Video: Postgame reaction after Sabres loss to Canadiens

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Live from First Niagara Center: Canadiens at Sabres

Sabres' road to playoffs might soon feature 'Do Not Enter' sign

By John Vogl

The Buffalo Sabres’ path to the playoffs is filled with signs that read “Rough Road Ahead.”

It might soon read “Do Not Enter.”

The Sabres enter tonight’s home game against Montreal in 11th place in the Eastern Conference. More important than their standing is how far back of a playoff spot they have fallen.

The seventh-place New York Islanders and eighth-place Rangers both have 44 points. The Sabres are six back with 38. Each team has eight games remaining.

The Isles and Rangers are on pace for 53 points. For the Sabres to match that, they need to go 7-0-1 down the stretch.

“Anything can happen,” left wing Thomas Vanek said today First Niagara Center. “So many teams probably thought they were out of it, then they won three games in a row. Until the end, you have a chance.”

Another loss or two would all but end Buffalo’s chances.

“There’s a lot of points up for grabs here,” left wing Steve Ott said. “It’s going to be a tough task.”

Montreal is fourth in the Eastern Conference but has the third-most points with 55. The Habs are only one point behind Northeast Division-leading Boston. Buffalo is 4-0-1 in its last five home games against Montreal and 8-1-1 in the last 10 overall.

Ryan Miller will start in goal tonight. Interim coach Ron Rolston said Jhonas Enroth will start one of the Sabres’ next two games, either Saturday against Philadelphia or Sunday against Tampa Bay.

John Scott will be scratched for the Sabres.

“Everyone in that locker room still believes we’re a playoff team,” Rolston said.

Ron Rolston

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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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