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Live: Maple Leafs at Sabres; pregame chat at 6:30 p.m., followed by in-game updates at 7

Sabres cancel Blue and Gold carpet event because of rain; lineup set

By John Vogl

The Sabres' grand entrance to their game tonight has been washed out.

The players were scheduled to arrive at First Niagara Center at 4:30 this afternoon and greet fans alongside a Blue and Gold carpet prior to facing the Toronto Maple Leafs. The festivities, which were set to include music and concessions, have been canceled due to rain.

The Leafs and Sabres will faceoff at 7 p.m.

The Sabres' lineup will be:

Forwards

Marcus Foligno-Tyler Ennis-Drew Stafford

Steve Ott-Mikhail Grigorenko-Ville Leino

Zemgus Girgensons-Kevin Porter-Brian Flynn

Matt Ellis-Cody McCormick-Patrick Kaleta

Defense

Christian Ehrhoff-Mark Pysyk

Mike Weber-Jamie McBain

Alexander Sulzer-Rasmus Ristolainen

Goalies

Jhonas Enroth

Matt Hackett

First big wave of cuts gets roster down to 41

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres trimmed training camp down to two groups Friday afternoon and started to set up a core of players for the Rochester Americans.

Sent down to the AHL club were forwards Colin Jacobs, Eric Locke, Johnny McGuire, Jonathan Parker, Frederick Roy, Kevin Sundher and Shawn Szydlowski; defensemen Alex Lepkowski and Matt MacKenzie; and goalies Connor Knapp and Nathan Lieuwen. Defenseman Nick Crawford was also sent down, but must first clear waivers.

Defenseman Brady Austin was returned to Belleville of the OHL and forward Peter Trainor was sent back to Rimouski in the Quebec League.

The Sabres are now down to 41 players (25 forwards, 13 defensemen and 3 goalies). Practice in Rochester will start Monday at 10 a.m. in Blue Cross Arena and is open to the public.

Go to the video: Sabres finish strong to beat Hurricanes, go 3-0 in preseason

By Mike Harrington

With no television broadcast, a lot of requests to see highlights from last night's 5-2 preseason win over Carolina. Click below for the in-house video complete with Rick Jeanneret calls. Two goals for Johan Larsson, a sick pass from Thomas Vanek to Cody Hodgson for the game-winner and a strong job in goal by Ryan Miller, especially in the first period.

Read John Vogl's report on Joel Armia's night, including his first goal, by clicking here.

Defenseman Brayden McNabb had a three-point night and you can read Vogl's chat with him in today's Sabres notebook.

Also check out photographer Sharon Cantillon's gallery from the action.

Postgame: Sabres stay unbeaten in preseason with 5-2 victory over Hurricanes

By John Vogl

The preseason isn't about wins and losses as much as it's about learning. Ryan Miller likes what the Sabres learned tonight.

The Sabres were down twice to Carolina but rallied to tie both times, and they pulled away at the end for a 5-2 victory to move to 3-0.

"It felt good to be in the mix, in a battle, in a 2-2 game," Miller said in First Niagara Center. "That’s the kind of stuff you want to get into right away. I thought as a group we reacted pretty well."

Johan Larsson scored twice and went 12 of 17 in the faceoff dot to shine for the Sabres. Brayden McNabb added a goal and two assists.

To hear Miller and coach Ron Rolston talk about the victory, click the audio files below.

Ron Rolston

Ryan Miller

Live: Hurricanes at Sabres; pregame chat at 6:30 p.m., followed by in-game updates at 7

Armia excited for first game in Buffalo, and Sabres are excited to see him

By John Vogl

Joel Armia has been a top prospect in Sabreland for more than two years. The locals will finally get a good look at him tonight.

Armia, drafted 16th overall by Buffalo in the 2011 NHL draft, will play against Carolina during the Sabres' preseason home opener in First Niagara Center. It's been a long wait for Armia, who spent the previous three seasons playing professionally in his native Finland.

"It’s nice to play here for the first time," he said. "It’s been a good experience meeting the guys here."

Continue reading "Armia excited for first game in Buffalo, and Sabres are excited to see him" »

Sabres putting out big names for crowd in preseason home debut

By John Vogl

The Buffalo Sabres' first preseason lineup at home will look a lot like the regular-season lineup. In other words, many of the big names will be on the ice tonight in First Niagara Center.

Thomas Vanek, Cody Hodgson, Tyler Myers, Ryan Miller and first-round draft picks Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov will be among those facing Carolina in the Sabres' third preseason game and first in Buffalo.

The lineup:

Forwards

Joel Armia-Cody Hodgson-Thomas Vanek

Tyler Ennis-Mikhail Grigorenko-Brian Flynn

Corey Tropp-Johan Larsson-Ville Leino

Luke Adam-Kevin Porter-Colton Gillies

Defense

Nikita Zadorov-Tyler Myers

Brayden McNabb-Mark Pysyk

Henrik Tallinder-Rasmus Ristolainen

Goaltenders

Ryan Miller

Matt Hackett

With preseason home opener Thursday, some traffic tips during HarborCenter construction

Harbor
View of HarborCenter construction taken last week. (Twitter feed of News Sports Reporter John Vogl -- @Buffnewsvogl)


By Mike Harrington

With the Sabres' exhibition opener set for Thursday night against Carolina in First Niagara Center and another preseason home game slated for Saturday against Toronto, the team has issued a traffic advisory today to remind fans about the impact of construction of the HarborCenter facility at the arena's front door.

(*If you haven't been downtown since the end of last season, you will be astonished at the size of the two cranes doing the construction and at the progress of the building at a relatively early stage of the project).

All normal event parking – in both the arena ramp and the surrounding surface lots – will remain open for all games this season but you're going to need to plan ahead and give yourself more time to get to and from the arena.

The biggest issue is you will no longer be able to head southbound toward the arena on Washington Street to get to Perry Street to access the arena ramp and surface lots. All traffic is now one lane northbound (away from the arena) on Washington and one lane southbound (toward the arena) on Main. The preferred route to head toward the arena is now Michigan Avenue, with a right turn on to Perry to the parking areas.

My advice: Get there early. If you think you're showing up 15 minutes before faceoff, you're not. You're going to be sitting in traffic. 

There are regularly temporary road closures around the construction site but the Sabres say those will not take place during arena events. Buffalo Police will direct traffic at the key intersections near the arena.

Prior to Saturday night's game against the Leafs, Sabres players will walk the Blue & Gold carpet beginning at 4:30 in Alumni Plaza. Brian Duff and Danny Gare will emcee the festivities.

Go to the video: A trio of tallies produces a win in Columbus

By Mike Harrington

Here's a video look at the Sabres' goals in Tuesday's 3-1 preseason win in Columbus (with highlights from the Blue Jackets' radio network/arena video feed as sent to Sabres.com).

Marcus Foligno nets the first two, including one on an acrobatic move crossing the front of the net, while Corey Tropp picks the pocket of Blue Jackets goalie Mike McKenna and feeds Mikhail Grigorenko for the insurance tally in the third period.

(Hint: Don't have your cursor over the video box while it's playing or you will get the banner staying on the screen at the top. Move the cursor to the side).

After returning from family tragedy, Canes' Gerbe out to prove Sabres wrong

By John Vogl

One of the Sabres' biggest moves of the offseason was buying out forward Nathan Gerbe. The agitator with scoring ability has finally arrived at training camp with his new team, the Carolina Hurricanes.

"I was a little shocked that happened," Gerbe, in this NHL.com story, said about the buyout. "It becomes something that drives you to work harder. I want to prove everyone wrong, and especially prove it to one team up north."

Gerbe joined the Canes on a one-year, two-way contract that will pay $550,000 if he plays in the NHL. He's getting an early chance, skating alongside former NHL Rookie of the Year Jeff Skinner and No. 5 overall draft pick Elias Lindholm.

Gerbe was a late arrival to camp because of the accidental death of his brother-in-law, as this story by the Raleigh News and Observer explains.

Sabres' Power Play Luncheon makes return

By John Vogl

The Sabres have announced the return of their annual Power Play Luncheon Series, which will consist of three events in First Niagara Center.

General Manager Darcy Regier, coach Ron Rolston and all the players from the 2013-14 team will headline the first luncheon at noon Oct. 1. Regier and Rolston will speak, while players and alumni will dine at each table.

The other two dates and headline speakers will be announced at a later date.

Rates are $40 for an individual luncheon seat, $100 for a seat at all three luncheons, $350 for a table of 10 at one event and $850 for a table of 10 at all three luncheons.

See Sabres.com or contact the First Niagara Center Account Services Office at 855-4444 for ticket information.

Tonight's lineup in Columbus

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres are essentially flipping squads for tonight's game in Columbus, with the players who didn't go to Sunday's shootout win in Montreal making their preseason debuts tonight. There are three notable exceptions: Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons, last year's two No. 1 picks, are in the lineup again tonight after having key roles in Sunday's win, and so is goaltender Matt Hackett.

Grigorenko had a pedestrian game until scoring the shootout winner, while Girgensons was the Sabres' top forward with two goals. The most interesting debut tonight will be winger Joel Armia, the 2011 No. 1 pick. He'll be playing with Tyler Ennis and Johan Larsson.

Veterans making preseason debuts tonight include goalie Ryan Miller, the team's top defense pair (Christian Ehrhoff-Tyler Myers) and top forward line (Marcus Foligno-Cody Hodgson-Thomas Vanek), Tyler Ennis and John Scott. 

The look at the team's morning skate in First Niagara Center went like this:

Forward lines
Foligno-Hodgson-Vanek
Girgensons-Grigorenko-Tropp
Ennis-Larsson-Armia
Scott-Ellis-Tardif

Defense pairs
Ehrhoff-Myers
McNabb-Ruhwedel 
Sulzer-Gauthier-Leduc 

Sabres send five back to juniors, including Buffalo's Bailey

By John Vogl

The Sabres' training camp numbers are slowly starting to drop.

Buffalo has sent five players back to their junior teams, bringing its roster total down to 56. Justin Bailey, the Williamsville native selected in the second round of the NHL draft, was among those to depart.

Joining Bailey, a Kitchener Rangers forward, were Nicholas Baptiste (Sudbury, OHL), Justin Kea (Saginaw, OHL), Logan Nelson (Victoria, WHL) and defenseman Connor Boland (Peterborough, OHL).

The Sabres also broke their practice sessions into three groups today. Two groups, featuring NHL regulars and hopefuls, were available to the media. The third group practiced early and could easily be considered the Rochester Americans. It consisted of Peter Trainor, Jonathan Parker, Johnny McGuire, Alex Lepkowski, Kevin Sundher, Shawn Szydlowski, Colin Jacobs, Eric Locke, Frederick Roy, Matt MacKenzie, Brady Austin and Nick Crawford.

Sabres, Kaleta out to prove early they have each other's back

By John Vogl

Patrick Kaleta didn't even see Jamie McBain get dropped with a clean, hard check Sunday night. He just knew McBain was a new teammate and he wanted the Sabres defenseman to know that Buffalo players stick up for each other.

"He’s a new guy, and he’s got to be welcomed on the team," Kaleta said today in First Niagara Center. "He’s got to know that we have his back."

Kaleta and Cody McCormick went after Canadiens who leveled big hits during the Sabres' 5-4 victory in the preseason opener. Kaleta says he might not have challenged normally mild-mannered Alex Galchenyuk during the regular season, but exhibition games are a time to send messages.

"We want to establish that we are a team and no one is going to take liberties on old guys, young guys," Kaleta said. "You’re going to have to deal with all five guys on the ice. We want to establish that early. We want to be a team that’s tough to play against, and you’re going to have to go through five of us, not just one."

The Sabres play their second of seven exhibitions Tuesday in Columbus. To hear coach Ron Rolston talk about the first game, the play of first-round picks Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov, and look forward to the Blue Jackets, click the audio file below.

Girgensons retains playoff pace; Sabres don't take kindly to big hits

By John Vogl

The Sabres opened their preseason schedule with a 5-4 shootout victory in Montreal on Sunday night. Among the notable developments:

*Zemgus Girgensons, who had a stellar playoff series for Rochester, picked right up where he left off with two goals.

*Trade acquisition Jamie McBain and tryout hopeful Colton Gillies also scored.

*The Sabres don't take kindly to big, clean hits. The Canadiens' Jarred Tinordi dropped Gillies early, and Buffalo's Cody McCormick earned an instigator and 10-minute miscoduct for taking exception.

Later, forward Alex Galchenyuk blasted McBain, and Patrick Kaleta jumped in. Hockeyfights.com doesn't list Galchenyuk as having ever fought before. On a faceoff after Kaleta left the box, fighter Brandon Prust cross-checked the agitator, who was called for diving.

French highlights of the game can be found here.

Ristolainen among four No. 1 picks the last two years hitting ice in Sabres' exhibition opener tonight

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres open the exhibition schedule tonight in Montreal and it will mark the debut of Ron Rolston's new-look coaching staff, as John Vogl wrote about in today's paper. As we learned during today's morning skate, the game is also quite a nod to the team's scouting and development staff as all four No. 1 picks from the last two years (Mikhail Grigorenko, Zemgus Girgensons, Rasmus Ristolainen and Nakita Zadorov) will get a chance to take the Bell Centre ice.

Quite a statement indeed.

"Absolutely it is," Rolston said in First Niagara Center prior to the flight to Montreal. "Our goal right now in training camp is there's going to be a lot of opportunity for those players. They're going to get a lot of time here in the exhibitions. They're important to where we're headed and we've got a lot of faith in those guys. So it's going to be important to watch them grow even through this exhibition schedule."

Ristolainen, the No. 8 overall pick in June, will be paired tonight with Mike Weber.

"I'm so excited," said Ristolainen. "I've been waiting a lot to play a game and it's nice to play in Montreal. I've heard it's one of the best rinks in this league and so are the fans, so I'm excited. There's a lot of guys getting chances. I know this is one of my chances. I want to do everything tonight to show my skills."

"He's a solid kid, solid player," Weber said. "He's a man. An 18-year-old man. He's a big boy, skates pretty well, moves the puck really well. He's smart. It's exciting for Sabres fans to have a big guy like that come in and we get to see how he looks against other men. But he's already been playing in a professional league (in Finland). His strength is there so it's all about playing against these guys. The NHL is the best guys in the world."

Continue reading "Ristolainen among four No. 1 picks the last two years hitting ice in Sabres' exhibition opener tonight" »

Sabres' training camp already moving from scrimmages to games

By John Vogl

Training camp is moving fast in Sabreland. The team wrapped up its third day of scrimmages this afternoon, and the coaching staff is already moving on to the initial cuts and the first exhibition game Sunday in Montreal.

“We’re already in game time tomorrow,” coach Ron Rolston said in First Niagara Center. “It’ll be good to get to that point. Now you can play some games and kind of start trimming things down. You’ve got obviously game situations, game video for teaching, and you’ve got a smaller group so practices are better at that point. As you trim down, competition is better, practices are better.”

The Sabres will make their first cuts Sunday, mostly young players who will return to their junior teams. Buffalo will have a morning skate at home then fly to Montreal.

Rolston would not disclose his lineup but said goaltenders will split games at the start before easing into full contests. The coach also will keep an eye on the top prospects vying for a starting role in Buffalo.

“You’ll probably see a lot of different combinations throughout the course of exhibition,” he said. “We’re trying to find the right pieces. We had a little bit at the end of last season where I had some experience with guys, but we’re still trying to find those combinations. That along with giving some of these younger guys some real good looks, giving them good opportunities to play with good players and see where they’re at, if they’re going to step up and take those opportunities or not.”

Rolston said he’ll control the forward line changes during games. Teppo Numminen will handle defenders and power play. Joe Sacco will conduct the penalty kill and talk on the headset with fellow assistant Jerry Forton, who will be up in the press box.

The Sabres totaled three goals in the final scrimmage. Steve Ott scored twice, with assists going to Ville Leino, while Shawn Szydlowski also found the net.

The full audio of Rolston’s news conference is below.

Miller rejoins Sabres after emotional induction at Michigan State

By John Vogl

Ryan Miller is still playing hockey, so he found it a little surreal that Michigan State was ready to induct him into its Athletic Hall of Fame. After arriving on campus this week and recognizing it had been about a dozen years since he'd hung out at the East Lansing college, he realized the magnitude of the honor.

"It was a pretty amazing experience," the Sabres goaltender said today. "Michigan State has meant a lot to our family. My grandfather came down in the 1950s to go to school there, and every decade after that a member of our family has been there going to school.

"To be inducted into the Hall of Fame after growing up going to football games, hockey games, wearing green and white, learning the fight song before I could speak properly probably, when I was able to get up and say a few words I was actually a lot more emotional than I thought I was going to be."

Miller, his cousin Kip and former Bills coach Hank Bullough were among the five Spartans honored Thursday night. The goalie missed practiced Friday but returned to the ice today.

"It was just another part of my life where I’m just kind of like, Wow, that’s really cool that that got to happen," Miller said. "I’m just trying to be thankful and appreciate it."

Sabres' special season-ticket deliveries set for Saturday

By John Vogl

Some Sabres season-ticket holders are in line for memorable visits Saturday.

Players and members of the organization will be out and about delivering the ticket packages to random fans. Owner Terry Pegula and others dropped off the ducats two years ago, as this story shows, but the special deliveries were canceled last season because of the lockout.

The season-ticket deliveries will coincide with the opening of individual game sales. Tickets will be available to the general public at 9 a.m. at the First Niagara Center box office and Tickets.com. The Sabres' twitter account has a presale through 10 tonight.

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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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