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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


Phoenix Coyotes | Sabres game day
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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 |

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 |

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 |