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Merry Christmas to all -- This tree picture is a real (goal) keeper!

By Mike Harrington

Happy holidays to you and yours from the staff of Sabres Edge -- with a big Twitter stick-tap to the heretofore unknown @Falk6118. This one is simply sheer brilliance and it ended up on the NHL's feed. 

Tree

Yahoo's musical ode to OT winner: 'Goal in a butt'

By Mike Harrington

I'm not making this stuff up. I couldn't possibly do it.

Yahoo's Puck Daddy blog has done a 78-rpm turnaround on a three-minute ditty about the Sabres' overtime winner last night and it's called "Goal in a Butt". Seriously.

My favorite lines:

"Not gonna get you a playoff spot. You gotta be a good team for that and you're not."

"Not gonna get you a new GM. Pat LaFontaine's gotta find one of them."

"Not gonna get you a nice third (jersey). You're stuck polishing that golden turd."

"See, I'm wise enough to know when a team needs loving and to be given a chance to see a puck cross the line in a goaltender's pants."

 

Bettman upholds 15-game ban for Bruins' Thornton

By Mike Harrington

Merry Christmas Eve from Gary Bettman to Shawn Thornton: The NHL commissioner has upheld the 15-game suspension to the Boston tough guy for his Dec. 7 attack on Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik.

You can go to this link to peruse Bettman's entire 12-page ruling and it makes for some interesting reading. My biggest take from it comes from pages 9-10-11 -- Bettman says Thornton's clean record saves him from an even longer suspension, and not the 10-12-game ban the players union was seeking.

Among other plays, Bettman compared the ugly incident to Dale Hunter's 21-game suspension in 1993 and the 18-month bad Todd Bertuzzi got for attacking Steve Moore in 2004. Thornton, if he wishes, has one week to appeal Bettman's ruling to a neutral arbitrator. 

The ButtGoal goes viral

Puck in your pants? GAME OVER. on Twitpic

 An animated GIF of the Sabres' Christmas gift from SBNation

By Mike Harrington

The ButtGoal is everywhere.

The Sabres beat Phoenix last night, 2-1, as Mark Pysyk was credited with an overtime goal after the puck landed in the pants -- and on the butt -- of Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith, who slid back into the net with it in tow. As I wrote in my column for today's paper, it was an early Christmas present (or at least a Festivus Miracle!) and seemingly the start of a reconciliation of a team and its bedraggled fan base.

We covered a wacky hockey game and went home. It snowed. Then I woke up and checked my computer and phone and the crazy finish is the toast of the Internet.

It made SportsCenter and FOXSports1, as you would expect. The Eye on Hockey blog from CBSSports.com has a video from the Coyotes' broadcast. Yahoo's Puck Daddy gives its take too.

But it's gone way bigger than that.

It was on NBC's "Today" and ABC's "Good Morning America". It's been in the top 10 stories all morning on CNN.com with the headline "Puck-in-pants goal wins NHL game" and a link to the Turner-affiliated Bleacher Report. It's also on the New Day blog of CNN's morning show, after the serious stuff like Obamacare, South Sudan, the International Space Station spacewalk and Edward Snowden. Those wackos at Deadspin chimed in too. And the Yahoo post I cited above also made it on the Yahoo Eurosport blog for the UK and Ireland.

Here's the MSG video, with some classic byplay between Rick Jeanneret and Rob Ray that included these nuggets as the replay rolled:

Continue reading "The ButtGoal goes viral" »

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Sabres Live: Pregame chat at 6:30 p.m.; Coyotes-Sabres updates at 7

South Buffalo's Kennedy carving niche on the wing with Coyotes

TK
Tim Kennedy has finally found a comfort zone in Phoenix. (Getty Images)



By Mike Harrington

Tim Kennedy is on his eighth pro team since the Sabres bid him farewell in August, 2010, by putting him on waivers and then buying out his contract after he won a $1 million arbitration award. This isn't even his first trip back to Buffalo, as he has visited with both the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers. But it's the first time he's actually found a home.

Kennedy is playing left wing on the Coyotes' top line, along side big guns Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal. He's played at least 15 minutes in four of the last seven games, and clocked in at a season-high 19:05 in Thursday's game in Toronto.

Kennedy endured three separate trips to Portland of the AHL this year, including one out of training camp, but returned Nov. 21 and tonight's homecoming will be his 15th straight game. He has one goal and five assists but his pointless in the last 10 games. Still, he's helping to contribute to the offense as Vrbata is the team's leading scorer with 27 points and Hanzal is tied for third at 24.

"They're easy guys to play with," Kennedy said after the Coyotes' pregame skate here today. "Marty is just a big guy, strong on his stick, strong in the corners and a really good two-way centerman. Verbie is a great shooter. You get him the puck in the slot. I add some speed, some skill, some grit. I like to pass before shooting so I'm looking for the two of them. We've been working well down low."

Kennedy finished last year with San Jose and signed with Phoenix when he figured the loaded Sharks roster was not his best bet to make the NHL as a regular for the first time since he played 76 games as a rookie with the Sabres in 2009-10.

Still, he struggled in training camp and started the season in the AHL.  He's on a two-way contract that pays $700,000 in the NHL but just $150,000 in the AHL.

"I didn't have the greatest camp in the world by any means," he said. "So I went to Portland, kept working hard and got called up three times. It seems I"ve stuck this team and I have to keep working because I'm happy to be here."

Tonight's biggest opponent: Coyotes or the flu?

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres have a flu bug affecting several players, so we're going to have to wait until tonight's warmups to really know who is taking the ice against the Phoenix Coyotes in First Niagara Center. Interim coach Ted Nolan said 4-5 players called in this morning and said they would not be attending the morning skate. Here's what we do know:

1). Defenseman Mark Pysyk and forward Johan Larsson have been recalled from Rochester and Nolan said both will be in the lineup tonight. Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel has been returned to the Amerks while forward Kevin Porter, who was injured Saturday in Boston, has been placed on injured reserve. Nolan said Cody Hodgson remains out.

2). Look for Ryan Miller in goal tonight. Miller is 4-0 with an 0.99 GAA and .964 save percentage in four career starts against the Coyotes. He will be opposed by Coyotes workhorse Mike Smith, who will start his 31st game of the season, one off the NHL high. Smith (15-8-6, 2.87, .913) leads the NHL in shots against (968) and saves (884).

3). Who was missing this morning? Newcomer Linus Omark was the lone player Nolan confirmed was among the flu-stricken. Also not on the ice were Alexander Sulzer, Ville Leino, Henrik Tallinder and Mike Weber. 

The Sabres could be a little thin for this game. They can put John Scott in the lineup but can't make any other recalls from Rochester because the Amerks left this morning for Switzerland to play in the Spengler Cup tournament that opens on Thursday.

"I kind of felt something was up with the team because we weren't as strong," Nolan said, referring to Saturday's loss in Boston. "We're not the strongest team but at least we're starting to battle for pucks but I thought we were knocked off them pretty easy. They didn't have that certain jump. We had it for certain periods of time but we didn't have it as consistently as we have the last three or four games. I kind of felt something was up."

4). The Coyotes, meanwhile, have a lineup that features South Buffalo native and former Sabre Tim Kennedy. He has one goal and five assists in 20 games but is playing big minutes on a line with Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal.   Veteran Shane Doan remains out while battling Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Click below to hear Nolan's pregame session with the media:

Ted Nolan

Enroth will start against Bruins; Omark to debut on Sabres' fourth line

By John Vogl

BOSTON -- The Sabres will use Jhonas Enroth in goal as they try to win three straight for the first time this season.

"He’ll come in and we’ll see how he fares," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said this evening before facing the Bruins.

Enroth is 0-3-2 with a 4.00 goals-against average and .888 save percentage against the Bruins. He his 1-6-3 with a 2.61 and .908 overall this season.

He'll get help tonight from friend and countryman Linus Omark. The Swedish forward will make his Sabres debut on the fourth line.

"Right now we’re playing much better, so to break up some combinations just to squeeze him in would be difficult," Nolan said. "We’ll keep with the so-called fourth line right now, and we’ll see how he goes when we give him some minutes. As we move forward here, we’ll see how it all adjusts."

Omark's preferred position is left wing.

"I was so excited to get a chance here in the NHL and come to a new organization," he said in TD Garden. "I was real happy."

Ted Nolan

Linus Omark

Sabres Live: Pregame chat at 6:45 p.m.; Sabres-Bruins updates at 7 p.m.

News and notes for Sabres at Bruins

By John Vogl

BOSTON -- TD Garden is a happening place. Beyonce was in the arena Friday night, and the Celtics have an afternoon game today. The Sabres couldn't have a morning skate in the building, so they elected not to have one anywhere.

Ted Nolan will conduct a pregame chat at 4:45 p.m., so we'll have lineup details then. For now, here are news and notes for tonight's game against the Bruins:

*Sabres newcomer Linus Omark will wear No. 17. Omark's agent told The News that he sees Buffalo as a good spot for the forward.

*The Sabres will try to win three in a row for the first time this season.

*The Sabres will look to win consecutive games against the Bruins for the first time since February 2012.

*The Sabres have scored four times in each of the last two games. They haven't scored that many in three straight since the final three games of the 2010-11 season.

*Ryan Miller is 26-9-7 against the Bruins with a 2.56 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. He is 3-1 with a 1.48 and .954 in his last four starts.

*Buffalo is 3-11-1 on the road. The Bruins are 14-3-2 at home. They have won their last six with an 11-0-2 mark in their last 13. It is their longest home stretch without a regulation loss since a 14-game home win streak from Oct. 25, 2008-Jan. 1, 2009.

*The Sabres have led after one period just three times in their 35 games.

*Buffalo's power play ranks 27th at 13 percent. Boston is 11th at 19.1 percent.

*The Sabres' penalty-kill unit ranks 21st at 80.9 percent. Boston is fourth at 86.5 percent.

*Marcus Foligno has four points, including three assists, in the two games against the Bruins this season.

*While the above picture of Omark's sweater is the usual white road jersey, the Bruins say they are wearing their road white sweaters tonight because the Sabres requested to wear their third jerseys. I guess we'll see.

*Buffalo is one of just four teams that have outscored Boston in their lifetime series. They enter tonight’s game with a four-goal edge. Minnesota, Montreal and Toronto are the other teams.

*The Sabres have killed off their last 14 penalties. The last power-play goal allowed was Dec. 5 against the Rangers.

Prospect J.T. Compher cut from U.S. World Juniors team

Sweden-USA-4707_large
An injury will keep J.T. Compher out of World Juniors (www.usahockey.com)

 

by Amy Moritz

Buffalo Sabres prospect J.T. Compher was cut from the United States National Junior Team and won't be participating in the 2014 IIHF World Juniors Championnship.

The 18-year-old was drafted by the Sabres in the second round in 2013. A native if Northbrook, Ill., Compher is a freshman at the University at Michigan.

The decision to cut Compher was based on left foot injury he sustained in practice on Monday.

On NHL.com, national junior team coach Don Lucia said Compher was on track to make the team but because of his age, he would have another opportunity to play in the World Juniors.

"The disappointment is in Compher getting hurt; he could have played a lot of different roles on this team. The good thing is that he's a 1995," Lucia said referring to Compher's birth year. "So he'll have another opportunity next year. It would have been a good bet that he probably would have made this team, but now it gives someone else an opportunity."

Agent sees Buffalo as the right fit for Omark

by Amy Moritz

There was plenty of promise for Linus Omark when the Edmonton Oilers drafted him in the fourth round in 2007. The native of Overtornea, Sweden played internationally until the 2010-11 season when split time with the Oilers and their American Hockey League affiliate the Oklahoma City Barons.

But other younger players started to pass Omark on the organization depth chart. He wanted to move. And Thursday he got his wish when the Buffalo Sabres acquired him for a conditional sixth-round draft pick.

"Edmonton had a lot of players similar to Linus’ skill set and ability," Omark's agent, Kevin Epp, said Friday afternoon. "Others were drafted higher or came in with more credentials or more clout. There were a lot of players similar to him in that organization. I’d say early on it started as a good opportunity but other young players came into their own and there wasn’t that opportunity for a future there."

But Epp sees a future for Omark with the Sabres. All that turnover in management makes Buffalo a destination for guys looking for a fresh start.

"I think it’s a fantastic and an opportunity Linus has been waiting for and wanting the past couple of years," Epp said. "It looks like a really good fit with a new management team and coaching. I think it gives him a good chance.

"Buffalo is in a new stage of their franchise rebuilding. They have a lot of draft picks and lot of young guys and Linus fits into that really well. He’s a young player and offensive player with real good potential to play."

Omark is scheduled to meet the Sabres in Boston and be in the lineup for Buffalo's game with the Bruins Saturday night.

Take a look at Omark's shootout goal in his NHL debut for the Oilers on Dec. 10, 2010:

Continue reading "Agent sees Buffalo as the right fit for Omark" »

Omark to join Sabres in Boston

by Amy Moritz

The newest Buffalo Sabre wasn't with the team at Friday morning's practice, but he'll be in the lineup Saturday night.

Interim coach Ted Nolan said Linus Omark will join the team in Boston today and be in the lineup against the Bruins for the second half of the home-and-home series. 

Omark was acquired last night in a trade with Edmonton which sent a conditional sixth-round pick to the Oilers in exchange for the Swedish forward who spent most of this season in the American Hockey League with Oklahoma City.

"He’ll take a spot in the lineup," Nolan said. "I’m not 100 percent sure where we’ll put him yet but he’ll play tomorrow night."

Cody Hodgson is out with an upper body injury after taking a blocked shot off his wrist in the Sabres 4-2 win over the Bruins Thursday. Nolan said he didn't know how long Hodgson would be out.

"I’m not too sure, maybe a week or two or three. I'm not sure," Nolan said.

The team remains without Cody McCormick, who is out for four to six weeks with an upper body injury.

Steve Ott did not practice but Nolan said it was a maintenance day for the captain.

While the Sabres are looking to build momentum off back-to-back wins, the task will be difficult in Boston as the Bruins remain one of the best teams in the NHL. Look for the Sabres to work on another balanced attack rather than trying to match the Bruins' lines.

"We’re not going to go in, you’re facing one of the heavyweights in the league," Nolan said. "You’re not going to go blow for blow with them and see how you do. If you do that, it’s not going to turn out very well. What we want to do is have more of a balanced attack and use all four lines. They have some pretty big forwards and they have big defense and if you try to go line-to-line matchup, it’s not going to work very well. We just want to make a balanced attack and whoever is out against whoever, you’ve just got to do your job."

For the rest of Nolan's post-practice comments, check out the audio: 

 

Vote for your three stars

Sabres' acquire Omark from Oilers for conditional sixth-round pick

By John Vogl

There's action on the ice and in the front office for the Buffalo Sabres, who made a trade during their game against the Boston Bruins.

The Sabres have acquired disgruntled forward Linus Omark from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a conditional sixth-round draft pick. Omark reportedly asked for a trade after spending all but one game this season with the Oilers' AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City.

Omark had 14 goals and 29 points in 29 games with the Barons.

Originally a fourth-round pick in 2007, Omark has eight goals and 30 points in 66 NHL games. The 26-year-old is 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds.

 

Sabres Live: Pregame chat at 6:30 p.m.; Bruins-Sabres updates at 7 p.m.

John Scott to the blue line?

by Amy Moritz

For the past few days, John Scott has been skating with the defenseman. The presumption in the press corps was that Scott, a fourth-line forward, would be a healthy scratch for the second straight game when the Sabres host Boston tonight.

But interim coach Ted Nolan said that Scott's position in the lineup will be a game-time decision and that he could be inserted at defense.

"This will be a real game-time decision whether we put him in," Nolan said. "We’ve been working with him last couple of games. We’ll see. Everybody played well last time so it depends on the mood before the game I guess."

"I think he looks good," Nolan said of what he's seen from Scott on defense the last few days. "Defense you’ve just got to move the puck up or if you’re in trouble ring it around the boards. He’s a big man that can cover a lot of ice. He’s an intelligent guy too so he should be able to pick it up."

He's a guy with a sense of humor, too. Player availability comes before Nolan's official press conference, so reporters half-jokingly asked Scott after the morning skate if he'd be playing defense after again practicing with the blueline unit.

"Me and Ehrhoff. No. 1 pairing," Scott joked. "I'm exited for the challenge it should be good. Probably get 20-25 minutes, get some power play time."

For more pregame thoughts from Nolan check out the audio:

 

No supplemental discipline for Boston's Marchand

by Amy Moritz

Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand won't receive any supplemental discipline from the NHL after his boarding hit on Calgary's Sean Monahan.

But that doesn't mean all is well for Marchand in Boston.

Media reports from Boston report that general manager Peter Chiarelli is less than pleased with Marchard and talked to him about his antics against Vancouver.

In Boston's 6-2 loss in Vancouver on Saturday, Marchand pantomimed kissing his Stanley Cup ring and mocked hoisting a Stanley Cup over his head as he skated by the Canucks' bench.

"I talked to Brad, and that’s all I’ll say,” said Chiarelli. “I wasn’t happy with it. But he understands.”

Marchand has five goals and 14 points in 34 games this season.

Another day of working the offense at the office

by Amy Moritz

It was back to work for the Buffalo Sabres today. It was the same drills that emphasized getting to the net along with some extended work on the power play.

While they may have exploded for four goals in yesterday's 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets (and four goals counts as an offensive explosion by this season's standards) that doesn't necessarily mean the flood gates have opened. They're pried open each day with consistent hard work, at least in interim coach Ted Nolan's view.

"If we want to ask the players to be consistent we as a coaching staff have to be pretty consistent with the way we design practice and how we're going about it," Nolan said. "It's just another day at the office for us."

It was the most goals scored by the Sabres this year since a 5-4 shoot out win at San Jose on Nov. 5.

One clarification on Tuesday's roster moves. Nolan said Mark Pysyk will not be traveling with Rochester to Switzerland for the Spengler Cup but will be recalled to Buffalo before the team leaves for the six-team tournament which starts on Dec. 26. However, the NHL has a roster freeze for Christmas starting at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 19 and ending at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 28. Teams can not trade, waive or demote a player to the minors in that time. They can promote a player from a minor league affiliate, according to the collective bargaining agreement.

To hear all of Ted Nolan's post-practice comments check out the audio:

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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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