December 31, 2013 - 5:26 PM
By Mike Harrington
WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Good evening and Happy New Year from the True North. If you've been following #QuestforThePeg today on my Twitter feed, you'll know I'm a little shocked to be sitting inside the MTS Centre for tonight's Sabres-Jets game. But I made it a full 10 minutes before Ted Nolan's pregame briefing with reporters after about 28 hours of rigamarole to get here. All part of the gig and part of the quest!.
And Nolan had a big piece of news: Veteran defenseman Henrik Tallinder is not playing tonight and could miss 1-2 weeks with what the coach said was an "upper middle" body injury. Nolan said he thinks Tallinder got hurt on a hit from Washington's Aaron Volpatti midway through the first period Sunday. It was a tough hit, with Tallinder going into the turnbuckle, the rounded part of the glass by the Caps' bench. You wonder if upper middle means ribs.
Tallinder has two goals and four assists in 34 games while posting a minus-12 rating and averaging 19:20 a game. (I hate plus-minus this year for the Sabres. This simply don't score. Hard to gauge anybody).
With Tallinder out, Alexander Sulzer will be back in the lineup. We'll see in warmups what Nolan does for pairings. Nolan said Tallinder practiced yesterday at Riverside Rink but was unable to play and did not come on this road trip.
"Somebody goes down, everybody has to give a little bit more," Nolan said. "Especially with Tallinder. He's been playing really good for us. We're gonna miss him but we've got to play."
December 31, 2013 - 3:25 PM
December 31, 2013 - 9:15 AM
By Mike Harrington
VANCOUVER -- No, I didn't lose my mind with that dateline. Or make a typo. Or like Bugs Bunny once said, shoulda taken that left turn at Albuquerque. I really woke up this morning in the home of the Sedin twins, in a hotel where you can look out the window and see the Richmond Hill oval that was the site of 2010 Olympic speed skating.
And yes, the Sabres are about 1,200 miles due East of here tonight so I overshot Winnipeg just by, ahem, a hare yesterday. I'll be trying to get there again today, so please accept my apologies on the limited information you may get here from the Sabres' morning skate.
(That said, there wouldn't be much anyway because I'm told only a few players are going to the MTS Centre this morning. And we already know Jhonas Enroth will be in goal tonight and Ville Leino is questionable.)
In a nutshell, I spent about 18 hours yesterday in O'Hare Airport in Chicago or planes. Three canceled flights to Winnipeg due to cold -- apparently it was so cold that bathrooms on planes were freezing -- left the first available flight there tomorrow. Doesn't help me. The only thing United Airlines could do was send me to Montreal, which would have put me in Winnipeg during the third period, or go all the way to Vancouver -- which is now supposed to have me in The Peg about 1 p.m. this afternoon.
December 30, 2013 - 3:08 PM
By John Vogl
Corey Tropp was beginning to earn a reputation as a hard-working, grind-line player in Buffalo before getting waived last month. He showed Sunday he has plenty of skill, too.
Tropp, claimed by Columbus, put up a Goal of the Year candidate for the Blue Jackets by going around a Pittsburgh defenseman and goaltender. Tropp has two goals, three assists and a plus-7 rating in 14 games with Columbus.
Tropp was let go by the Sabres to make room for Matt D'Agostini, who has no goals, one assist and a minus-1 rating in 13 games with Buffalo.
December 30, 2013 - 2:16 PM
By John Vogl
After putting up one of the best performances of his career, Ryan Miller has been named the NHL's Second Star of the Week.
Miller went 2-0-1 with a 1.55 goals-against average and .961 save percentage during his three starts. His best performance was Sunday's 2-1 shootout win over Washington. Including a perfect six-round shootout, he stopped 55 of 56 shots and set a career-high with 49 saves during regulation and overtime.
Miller opened the week with a 36-save performance during a 2-1 overtime win against Phoenix. He made 39 saves during a 4-3 shootout loss to Toronto.
Chicago's Patrick Sharp was named First Star after scoring six goals and adding an assist in three games.
December 30, 2013 - 12:14 PM
By John Vogl
The Sabres geared up for frigid Winnipeg by practicing in the icy rink at Riverside Park today. They were missing three guys.
Forwards Steve Ott, Ville Leino and Brian Flynn all skipped the workout. It was a rest day for Ott and Flynn, who should be fine for Tuesday's game against the Jets. Leino was absent because of injury. He took a huge hit from Washington forward Tom Wilson during Sunday's 2-1 shootout victory.
Sabres coach Ted Nolan said if Leino can't play, he'll dress Alexander Sulzer as a seventh defenseman.
Ryan Miller was back on the ice following his heavy workload (49 saves, plus six in the shootout). He'll get a break Tuesday as the Sabres will start Jhonas Enroth against the Jets. Miller is expected to play Thursday in Minnesota.
Though he's a lock to make the Olympic team, Miller said today he hasn't heard anything from USA Hockey. The organization will name its 2014 squad Wednesday at the Winter Classic.
December 30, 2013 - 10:04 AM
By John Vogl
Hockey is a team sport, but the Sabres were a one-man show Sunday night. Ryan Miller stopped 49 of 50 shots through 65 minutes of play, then blanked all six Capitals in the shootout to give Buffalo a 2-1 victory.
Miller improved his save percentage to .927 on a night when he was needed more than ever. The Capitals outshot the Sabres, 50-17, the biggest disparity for a Buffalo victory in team history. The 33-shot disadvantage topped the 31-chance margin during a 7-5 win over Boston on March 21, 1971, when the Bruins had a 56-25 edge.
December 29, 2013 - 3:39 PM
By Mike Harrington
In his pregame briefing with reporters this afternoon, interim coach Ted Nolan said he will use the same lineup as he did in Friday's shootout loss in Toronto and will start off at least with the same lines. That means Alexander Sulzer will again be a healthy scratch.
"To make a change just to make a change doesn't seem right," Nolan said. "Defense wasn't our problem the last game."
Nolan initially hedged when asked who would be in goal and then said Ryan Miller "probably" will play. But the look on his face was one of I-dont-really-want-to-say-but-I-just-did.
The Capitals have the NHL's top power play at 25.9 percent, no surprise when the lineup includes NHL goal leader Alexander Ovechkin and his league-high 12 goals on the power play. The Sabres are just 20th on the penalty kill and 12th at home. Their first priority, Nolan said, is simply to not take penalties at all.
The Sabres have taken 11 penalties in the last three games, killing nine. The Caps, conversely, have scored a power-play goal in seven of their last eight games.
"If we are going to take a penalty, if there's such a thing as a good penalty, we have to make sure it's a good one," Nolan said. "Not one of those lazy ones that are 200 feet from our end, in the offensive zone or neutral zone. It has to be a good penalty for us to have the spirit to kill it off."
The Sabres also have to figure out their second-period struggles. When Nolan arrived, they had been outscored, 27-3, in the first period but that deficit is just 10-8 in his 18 games. In the middle frame, however, the Sabres have been outscored, 21-9, under Nolan when their deficit was just one (18-17) under Ron Rolston.
The Sabres' 2-0 lead went poof-in-the-Toronto night in the second period Friday as the Maple Leafs scored all three of their goals.
"We had we thought that problem fixed and then all of a sudden the last game, there's no answer for the way we played," Nolan said. "There was just one mistake after another mistake, one turnover after another turnover. It was just very uncharacteristic of the way we've been playing lately."
More bad news for the Sabres: Ovechkin has gone scoreless the last two games -- and hasn't failed to score in three straight all season. He had 12 shots on goal over the last two games so he certainly seems overdue.
December 29, 2013 - 1:49 PM
December 29, 2013 - 11:30 AM
December 28, 2013 - 2:05 PM
by Amy Moritz
The second period was one the Buffalo Sabres would like to forget. Friday night in Toronto, the team blew a 2-0 lead, giving up three goals in a lackluster second period. The Sabres rallied in the final minute to tie the game and earned an overtime point despite a shootout loss.
As the game started to unravel in the second, interim coach Ted Nolan had two choices -- call a time out to settle the team or let them try to figure it out themselves.
"Sometimes you get frustrated as coach," Nolan said. "You just want them to work themselves through it. We’re not in kindergarten where you have to hold hands and direct them through every tough situation. They have to find a way themselves. Sometimes you let them battle through it and sometimes you have to call a timeout. Last night it was one of those things I tried to let them battle through it."
The Sabres went through a spirited 45-minute practice at Riverside Saturday afternoon. The only healthy player missing was captain Steve Ott and Nolan said it was a maintenance day.
"He’s a warrior from the good old days," Nolan said. "He battles and battles so we gave him a rest day today."
The flu-line -- Linus Omark, Marcus Foligno and Ville Leino -- skated together again and looked as if they had more energy than during Friday's game.
The team will not have a pre-game skate on Sunday since their game with the Washington Capitals is a 5 p.m. start at First Niagara Center.
Here's the audio of Nolan's comment's after today's practice:
December 28, 2013 - 12:00 AM
By Mike Harrington
TORONTO -- The video doesn't lie. John Scott scored a goal Friday night. I even wrote most of a story about just that because it was so far and away the talking point of the Sabres' 4-3 shootout loss to the Maple Leafs in Air Canada Centre.
It came at 7:53 of the first period on a Matt Ellis rebound. Second goal of his career, in his 200th NHL game. His first goal came for Minnesota, way back in November, 2009. (Scott joked he's had a lot of healthy scratches in his career and that's why he's only at 200 games).
There is some discrepancy who Jonathan Bernier joined in getting burned by a Scott goal. Scott said he beat Canes frontliner Cam Ward while one box score I saw said Michael Leighton played in the game and another I found said Ward. The Wild's site said Leighton as well. Hmmm.
Scott's postgame presser was a riot. He talked about how he always seems to do "special stuff" in this building, referring to the September brawl and his November blast at Toronto's captain as "Princess Phaneuf."
December 27, 2013 - 2:30 PM
By John Vogl
TORONTO -- Drew Stafford had a fun time watching the Sabres battle back to beat Phoenix despite being down to 15 skaters Monday. It was not fun being part of the reason they were short-handed.
Stafford was ejected during the second period of the 2-1 overtime victory. He earned a five-minute elbowing major and game misconduct for a hit on the Coyotes' Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The Sabres were already playing two men short of the maximum because of illness.
"That was tough," Stafford said today in Air Canada Centre. "I felt more bad just because of a short bench. It was tough enough as it is with having the three lines and we were playing a certain kind of game. A call like that happens, it was tough.
"Fortunately, the win trumps it all. The boys battling back, that was a gutsy win. It was pretty fun to watch."
Stafford will be in the lineup against the Maple Leafs tonight because he did not receive supplemental discipline from the NHL.
"I didn’t really expect to hear anything, but you never know," Stafford said. "I was getting ready for a counterhit, and the guy kind of bailed on me. He didn’t really engage at all, kind of gave me the long stick. My force kind of came back into him, and the follow-through got him. My arm swung around, but I got him with my shoulder.
"I think five minutes and a game’s enough punishment."
December 27, 2013 - 2:09 PM
December 27, 2013 - 1:14 PM
By John Vogl
TORONTO -- Ted Nolan is willing to cut Linus Omark some slack for his subpar debut with the Sabres. Omark played against Boston on Saturday without the benefit of a practice after getting acquired from Edmonton, and he missed Monday's meeting with Phoenix due to the flu.
Nolan won't give the forward any extra rope starting with tonight's game in Toronto.
"We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt the first time with jetlag and getting to a new team and having the flu," Nolan said in Air Canada Centre. "But after this, he’s got to play with a lot more energy."
Omark (who said his first name is pronounced "Lean-us") took an early penalty and was minus-1 in 12:57 of ice time against the Bruins while playing a fourth-line role. He'll skate alongside center Ville Leino and wing Marcus Foligno tonight. All three players missed the Phoenix game because of illness.
"Hopefully, I can stay healthy now and go from here," said Omark, who finally got a chance to practice with the team today. "I’ve got to work hard. When the chance comes, I’m going to take it. I can just work harder. I had a bad start. Now I’ve been sick, and I’ll keep going for now."
Cody Hodgson will miss his third straight game with a wrist injury, while center Johan Larsson has been sent back to Rochester. Alexander Sulzer will be the healthy scratch on defense. John Scott will be in the lineup and could get power-play time again.
"A lot of power-play goals, it’s just shooting at the net and creating a screen," Nolan said. "There’s no bigger guy that we have on this team."
Ryan Miller will start in goal for the Sabres, while Jonathan Bernier will be in net for the Leafs.
"I’m excited to play," Omark said. "Hopefully. I can start this game good. We’ll see."
December 26, 2013 - 11:27 AM
by Amy Moritz
It was a big opening day at the World Junior Championships for Buffalo Sabres prospects Nikita Zadorov and Mikhail Grigorenko.
Zadorov scored twice, including shorthanded, and Grigorenko had a goal and two assists as Russia pounded Norway, 11-0.
Check out two of their sharp-shooting goals:
December 26, 2013 - 7:59 AM
by Amy Moritz
You're up and watching hockey already, right?
It's Boxing Day in Canada and more importantly for hockey fans it's the opening day of the World Juniors. Live coverage of the games broadcast on TSN are being simulcast on the NHL Network with Canada and Germany kicking off the tourney.
This game features three players vying to be the overall No.1 draft choice this summer -- Sam Reinhart and Aaron Ekblad of Canada and Leon Draisaitl of Germany.
Defending champion United States begins their tourney at 11:30 this morning against the Czech Republic. The Detroit Free Press offers this look at Team USA and their chances to win their fourth medal in five years while the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette examines the role the World Juniors plays in Canadian hockey culture.
While a pair of Buffalo Sabres' prospects are out with injury (J.T. Compher for Team USA and Gustav Possler for Sweden) Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov will play for Team Russia. Russia opens against Norway at 9 a.m. today.
Want to test your knowledge of the World Juniors? Check out the quiz in the Hamilton Spectator.
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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.
About Sabres Edge
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.
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