ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Sabres are making a pair of significant lineup changes, one forced by injury and another by inept play.
Christian Ehrhoff, who suffered a lower-body injury Thursday against Los Angeles, will not play against the Ducks tonight in Anaheim. He will be replaced in the lineup by rookie defenseman Nikita Zadorov, who was scratched during the previous two games.
Forward Ville Leino will take a seat as a healthy scratch. Leino has one assist in seven games and a minus-2 rating. He took his first shot on goal of the season Thursday. He will be replaced by Mikhail Grigorenko, who sat the last three games.
To hear coach Ron Rolston's pregame comments, click the audio file below. (I wouldn't bother if I were you.)
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.
With Jordan Leopold sent to St. Louis on Saturday, the
Buffalo Sabres have to replace more than 21 minutes of ice time.
In their first game without the veteran defenseman, the
beneficiaries were Tyler Myers and rookie Mark Pysyk.
Myers skated a game-high 28 minutes, 13 seconds in the
shootout loss, while Pysyk was on the ice for 13:52 – a game after being a
healthy scratch in Florida.
"It felt good," Myers said of the extended work. "It's
whatever the coaches are going to decide how to play us. I think all the 'D' has been doing a really good job of adjusting to what has been given to them."
Myers didn't learn of Leopold's trade until arriving at
First Niagara Center for the game.
Leading scorer Thomas Vanek will not play tonight when the Buffalo Sabres host the Toronto Maple Leafs in First Niagara Center, interim coach Ron Rolston said this morning.
Vanek was hit by a Christian Ehrhoff shot Tuesday night in the second period of the Sabres' game in Montreal.
"He's better today," Rolston said. "He feels, actually, good. We're starting the process, so we're hoping to get him on the ice tomorrow."
It looks like Vanek will be joined in the press box by forward Nathan Gerbe, who's expected to be a healthy scratch for the second straight game.
"I think he's working hard, but we have to make some tough decisions right now in our lineup," Rolston said of Gerbe. "I can only have 12 forwards in there and [he] was a player that I think
didn't give us a reason to keep him in right now. And that's what he has to work
Burly forward John Scott is expected to be back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the past three games.
Christian Ehrhoff says he's ready to play tonight. (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)
By Mike Harrington
Coach Lindy Ruff said the Sabres will dress seven defensemen for warmups prior to tonight's game against Montreal. He'll then make a decision which six to suit up for the game or perhaps whether to keep all seven in the lineup.
The biggest news is that Christian Ehrhoff should be ready to go after missing Tuesday's game in Ottawa with an undisclosed muscle strain. Ehrhoff is Buffalo's runaway ice time leader this year at 23 minutes, 54 seconds per game and is a plus-2 while playing the most consistent game among the blueliners this season.
Ehrhoff was injured Sunday against Florida and said his issue developed when he woke up Monday. He tried to take the morning skate Tuesday in Ottawa but was quickly shut down.
"After a couple laps, I knew it was not working," he said. "A couple extra days helped."
The Sabres have hit the ice for practice in First Niagara Center -- a practice that was not on their schedule. The team had posted today as a day off and informed the media as such** but is now holding a normal workout.
(**We have inquired with the NHLPA about the practice. Under the new CBA, teams have to have two days off a month at home and two on the road and they must be planned in advance. They cannot be changed "absent compelling circumstances" and it's assumed that a mere slump like the 1-6-1 abyss the team is currently is would not qualify. Stay tuned for more on that.)
Robyn Regehr (ankle) skated on his own for about 20 minutes prior to the practice. Pat Kaleta is also back working out with the team as an extra forward. The injured Andrej Sekera and Christian Ehrhoff are not on the ice.
The one unexpected absentee is defenseman Mike Weber so there are only five D on the ice. We'll have to find out Weber's status after practice.
OTTAWA – Jhonas Enroth is getting another chance to do something he hasn’t done in 15 months: win.
The Sabres’ backup goaltender will get the start tonight in Ottawa against the Senators. Enroth is 0-1 this season and hasn’t won since Nov. 26, 2011. He finished last year on an 0-9-2 skid and suffered a 6-3 loss in Carolina in his only start this year.
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.
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.