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Nashville hires Housley as assistant coach, eliminating him from Sabres speculation

By John Vogl

Phil Housley was ready to make the jump to the NHL coaching ranks. It was just a matter of which team would hire him.

Nashville did today.

The Predators have hired the former Sabres defenseman and USA Hockey coach as an assistant for Barry Trotz.

Continue reading "Nashville hires Housley as assistant coach, eliminating him from Sabres speculation" »

Buffalo's Justin Bailey among the prospects who'll attend NHL draft combine

By John Vogl

The NHL combine continues to grow in size and significance. Justin Bailey will find out in person.

The Buffalo-born right winger is one of 101 prospects set to take part in the combine next week in Toronto. The players eligible for June's draft will have interviews Monday through May 30 and a fitness test May 31 and June 1.

Bailey is ranked 38th among North American skaters after putting up 17 goals and 36 points in 57 games for Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League.

The top 79 North Americans on Central Scouting's list will attend the combine, including top prospects Seth Jones, Nathan McKinnon and Jonathan Drouin.

Sabres re-sign enforcer John Scott to one-year deal

By John Vogl

The Sabres brought in John Scott last season to make them a tougher team. They liked what they saw because they're keeping him around next season, too.

The Sabres have re-signed the 6-foot-8, 270-pounder to a one-year deal worth $750,000. He was set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Continue reading "Sabres re-sign enforcer John Scott to one-year deal" »

Bucky & Sully Show: NHL playoffs, Leafs choke?

News Sports Columnists Bucky Gleason and Jerry Sullivan talked hockey Friday during their weekly live show. Watch highlights below.

On NHL playoffs:

Leafs choke?

On Roger Neilson & rally towels:

For more segments from the show, click here.

Canisius product Conacher getting noticed for Senators

By John Vogl

As the Penguins get set to host the Senators tonight in Game Two, plenty of heads are turning toward Cory Conacher.

The Canisius product was a pest toward the Penguins in Game One, picking up three minors to bring his team-high total to 29 penalty minutes. He also leads the Sens with three goals.

NHL.com wrote about him heading into the second game, and here's a sampling of quotes from the story:

Continue reading "Canisius product Conacher getting noticed for Senators" »

Enroth-led Sweden eliminates Ruff-coached Canada from medal contention at worlds

ENROTH AT ROSWELL
Jhonas Enroth made 39 saves in Sweden's 3-2 shootout victory over Canada.


By John Vogl

Lindy Ruff is coming home without a medal. Jhonas Enroth could still win one in his homeland.

Enroth backstopped Sweden to a 3-2 shootout victory over Canada this afternoon in the quarterfinals of the world championships. Enroth made 39 saves during the game and stopped three of four attempts in the shootout to send the co-hosts to the semifinals.

The setback eliminates Ruff-coached Canada from medal contention.

United States routs Russia as world championship quarterfinals get underway

By John Vogl

Alex Ovechkin couldn't help Russia overcome a dominant American attack today as the big games at the hockey world championships began.

The United States routed Russia, 8-3, in the opening quarterfinal in Helsinki, Finland. Colorado's Paul Stastny scored twice and added two assists to lead the Americans, who advanced to the semifinals.

Ovechkin arrived in Finland on Wednesday after his Washington Capitals were eliminated, and he scored once and added an assist.

The other quarterfinal games today are: Switzerland against Czech Republic; Finland versus Slovakia; and Canada against Sweden.

Continue reading "United States routs Russia as world championship quarterfinals get underway" »

A little more than 'he shoots, he scores' on Bruins' winner

By Mike Harrington

This one is making the rounds this afternoon, courtesy of NESN with a boost from CBS Sports' Eye on Hockey blog. We've seen a couple of these before, but this one is even more melodramatic.

NESN has a tiny camera in its TD Garden booth trained on wacko Bruins play-by-play guy Jack Edwards, and it captured this over-the-top reaction from Edwards to Patrice Bergeron's overtime goal in Game Seven against the Leafs Monday night.

Close your eyes and listen and it's actually a pretty good call but Edwards, clearly knowing the camera is there, added some major mustard to his hot dogging too.

College coach Roque denies report that he's joining Sabres' staff

By John Vogl

Jim Roque, the head coach at Lake Superior State, has known Ron Rolston since at least 1990, when they were both assistant coaches at the college. They're friends but they are not co-workers again, Roque told The Buffalo News by phone today, refuting a report that he's set to become one of Rolston's assistants on the Sabres.

"I don’t know how that rumor got started," Roque said. "I feel bad that it’s out there. Ron and I are good friends, but he has not offered me any job and I have not pursued a job with him. I talked to him on the weekend to congratulate him, and that’s all I got going with Ron right now."

Continue reading "College coach Roque denies report that he's joining Sabres' staff" »

Sabres assistant coach possibilities from Rolston's past include Housley, Blashill

By John Vogl

One week ago, Sabres coach Ron Rolston figured it would take about a week to assemble a staff of assistants. He fired Lindy Ruff-holdovers James Patrick and Kevyn Adams on Thursday. Chadd Cassidy, who has been Rolston's assistant since 2006, is expected to get one of the jobs.

Here's a look at Rolston's other assistants from his time at USA Hockey.

Continue reading "Sabres assistant coach possibilities from Rolston's past include Housley, Blashill" »

Leafs run out of gas in shocking fashion as NHL heads to second round

Sun
By John Vogl

The first round of the NHL playoffs is over, and it ended in shocking fashion.

Toronto blew a three-goal lead in the final 10 minutes of Game Seven, allowing Boston to rally and win in overtime, 5-4, to advance to the second round. No team – not one – had ever blown that big of lead in the third period of a seventh game in NHL playoff history, writes Chris Johnston.

“That’s one thing you’re going to remember probably for the rest of your life," Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuck said in a story by Bruce Arthur.

Continue reading "Leafs run out of gas in shocking fashion as NHL heads to second round" »

Ott, Pardy were among best friends of Sabres goalies; Hodgson, Myers were not

By John Vogl

Cody Hodgson saw goal lights flashing at both ends of the rink all season, as the story in Sunday's paper showed. He created goals with the best of them, and he gave them up with the worst.

Among his stats was a .895 save percentage for the Sabres' goaltenders when he skated five-on-five. That ranked last on the Sabres and 589th of the 689 players who appeared in at least 10 games, according to BehindTheNet.ca.

Here are the goalies' save percentages for all the Sabres when they skated five-on-five. Keep in mind that fourth-line players typically skate against fourth-line players while the top guys skate against snipers. But that doesn't change the fact 589 out of 689 is not very good.

     1     MATT ELLIS C     1.000    
    2     LUKE ADAM LW     .966    
    3     JOHN SCOTT D    . 957    
    4     PATRICK KALETA RW     .949    
    5     STEVE OTT C     .949    
    6     JOCHEN HECHT LW     .948    
    7     CHAD RUHWEDEL D     .947    
    8     ADAM PARDY D     .945    
    9     VILLE LEINO LW     .944    
    10     KEVIN PORTER C     .944    
    11     BRIAN FLYNN C     .943    
    12     NATHAN GERBE C     .937    
    13     MIKE WEBER D     .934    
    14     ANDREJ SEKERA D     .928    
    15     CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF D .926    
    16     ALEXANDER SULZER D .926    
    17     MIKHAIL GRIGORENKO C     .924    
    18     MARK PYSYK D     .923    
    19     TYLER ENNIS C     .918    
    20     DREW STAFFORD RW     .911    
    21     TYLER MYERS D     .909    
    22     THOMAS VANEK LW     .901    
    23     MARCUS FOLIGNO LW     .899    
    24     CODY HODGSON C     .895    
    25     CODY MCCORMICK RW     .895    

Crazy night in TO leads to Game 7

By Mike Harrington

TORONTO -- It was a wild night in the Air Canada Centre and outside in Maple Leaf Square as the Leafs posted a 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins to force Game Seven Monday night in TD Garden.

Be sure to read my column in Monday's editions of The News about the great atmosphere surrounding Game Six, which was the Leafs' first home playoff win since 2004 and first against Boston since 1959 (!). Click the two videos above for how things looked outside when the two goals were scored.

Here are some other random thoughts I have after Game Six:

Continue reading "Crazy night in TO leads to Game 7" »

Pondering the playoffs: Where have all the long overtimes gone?

By Mike Harrington

TORONTO -- We're on hand at the Air Canada Centre for Game Six of the Leafs-Bruins series (tonight at 7:30) and I'm wondering if we're way-way-way overdue for one of those into-the-night marathon playoff games that people talk about for a long time.

Last night's Pittsburgh-Islanders game was the 16th overtime contest of the first round -- tying the record for a round set last year. Former East Amherst product Brooks Orpik scored the game winner at 7:48 and you can watch the video above.

But none of the 16 games have gone past the first OT. Only two have gone past 15 minutes and just five have gone past 10 minutes (Boston's David Krejci scored at 13:06 to win Game Four of this series here on Wednesday night. Five have lasted less than three minutes. 

The average in total is just a shade over eight minutes. Sure, there's some great players on the ice but I can say no superstar has scored an OT goal yet. I point to bad goaltending and there's been plenty of it in the postseason so far. We'll see what happens here tonight, and whether Tuukka Rask and James Reimer can stretch a tie game deep into the night.

Bucky & Sully Show: Sabres credibility and draft

News Sports Reporter Mike Harrington filled in for Jerry Sullivan Friday on the "Bucky & Sully Show." Harrington and Bucky discussed the Sabres' credibility and the NHL draft in the segment below:

See more highlights from Friday's show here.

Bucky & Sully Show: Harrington on Sabres news conference

News Sports Reporter Mike Harrington filled in for Jerry Sullivan Friday on the "Bucky & Sully Show." Here's what Harrington had to say about the Sabres season-end news conference:

See more highlights from Friday's show here.

Around the Worlds: Sabres updates from the IIHF Championships

By Mike Harrington

Updates from the IIHF World Championships in Sweden and Finland: 

Thomas Vanek has team-highs of three goals and 20 shots on goal for Austria. The Aussies beat Slovakia in a shootout, with Vanek scoring the decisive goal. Christian Ehrhoff has been the workhorse for Germany, averaging 29:31 per game, while Andrej Sekera has done likewise for Slovakia at 24:55. Jhonas Enroth has a 1.76 goals-against average in the nets for Sweden.

In the standings -- go to the bottom of the page at this link -- Lindy Ruff-coached Team Canada has the tourney's best record at 4-0-1 for 13 points (losing only to Switzerland in a shootout). Finland leads the other group with 11 points. Team USA has nine points, tied with Russia and two behind the Finns.

Meanwhile, Rochester Amerks center Zemgus Girgensons, the Sabres' second first-round pick last June, has been suspended for one game for a butt-ending violation and will miss Latvia's game Saturday against Germany. The incident occurred during Thursday's 5-3 win over Slovakia.

Crosby, Ovechkin, Tavares finalists for MVP; NHL close on committing to Olympics

By John Vogl

Archrivals Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are in another showdown. This time, John Tavares has joined as the third man in.

The NHL announced the three finalists for the Hart Trophy this morning, and the MVP candidates are Pittsburgh's Crosby, Washington's Ovechkin and the Islanders' Tavares. Voting was conducted by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the conclusion of the regular season, and the winner will be announced during the Stanley Cup finals.

(For the record, the top three on the five-man ballot submitted by me, in order, were Ovechkin, Crosby, Tavares.)

After all three conclude the playoffs and the MVP race, they can start getting ready for the 2014 Olympics.

Continue reading "Crosby, Ovechkin, Tavares finalists for MVP; NHL close on committing to Olympics" »

Ex-Sabres assistant Patrick loved his time playing and coaching in Buffalo, plans to keep coaching

James Patrick
James Patrick

 

By John Vogl

James Patrick has been in Buffalo since 1998. He played for the Sabres in the Stanley Cup finals. He was an assistant coach when they won the Presidents' Trophy in 2007.

He'll always cherish his time, but it's over now as he and fellow assistant Kevyn Adams have been fired by Ron Rolston. They were holdovers from the staff of Lindy Ruff, and their departures were expected when Rolston had the interim tag removed from his coaching title this week.

"I was lucky to be here for 14 years," Patrick said by phone. "I love Buffalo and I love the Sabres. I was just so lucky to be able to work with great people, especially Lindy. To me, Lindy was the spirit and heart and soul of the Sabres, and to learn from him and work with him was such a great experience."

The 49-year-old said he plans to continue coaching.

The Sabres ranked 29th in power-play efficiency this season and 26th in penalty killing. They also lose 1,820 games of NHL experience with the loss of Patrick and Adams.

"It allows you to know all the situations that players are going through," Patrick said, "from young, naive, inexperienced players to older players still trying to hang on and can sometimes lack confidence but can still be real good, effective players. I guess what Kevyn and I can always relate to is we know exactly what they’re going through in all those situations."

Foreign legion: Three Europeans voted as Vezina finalists

By John Vogl

The NHL has announced the three finalists for the Vezina Trophy, and for the first time all three goaltenders are from Europe.

The Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist (Sweden), San Jose's Antti Niemi (Finland) and Columbus' Sergei Bobrovsky (Russia) are in the running to be named top goalie, as voted on by the league's general managers.

Bobrovsky is the favorite after leading the surprising Blue Jackets to the cusp of the playoffs. He was 21-11-6 with a 2.00 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. He'd become the first Russian to win the award.

Lundqvist won last year and is a finalist for the fifth time.

The first European Vezina winner was Philadelphia's Pelle Lindbergh (Sweden) in 1985. Dominik Hasek (Czech Republic) has won the most with six.

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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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