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Sabres bring in goalies from Canisius, Morrisville to fill in for Miller, Enroth

By John Vogl

Goaltenders Ryan Miller (United States) and Jhonas Enroth (Sweden) are still in Sochi for the medal round, so the Sabres needed netminders when they returned to practice today. They borrowed Canisius College sophomore Adam Harris and Morrisville senior Chris Azzano.

“My coach called me two nights ago,” Harris said in First Niagara Center. “He asked if I wanted to do it, and obviously I jumped at the opportunity. It helps me a lot in hockey. I’m facing these shooters, obviously the best in the world, and then I go back to college and I should hopefully get an edge on the shooters at that level.”

The fill-ins will practice with the Sabres through the weekend.

“As soon as the other guys get back then I’m back to the real world,” Harris said.

The real word awaits Miller and Enroth, too. They may not get back from Russia until Monday night, and the Sabres host the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday.

“One of them is going to have to play for sure,” Buffalo coach Ted Nolan said. “We’ll see which one had the best sleep on the plane coming home. Whichever one, he’ll play.”

Rochester outdoor hockey festival will include Amerks, Niagara University

By Jay Skurski

Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black was in Rochester this morning to make an official announcement regarding a a regular-season outdoor game being played in December by the NHL club's top affiliate, the Americans.

That game will be part of a 10-day outdoor hockey festival that will take place at Frontier Field, home of the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings. The Amerks will kick off the event against an opponent to be determined, while the Rochester Institute of Technology will hold a men's and women's hockey doubleheader. The RIT men's team will host Atlantic Hockey rival Niagara, while the women will play Clarkson.

The rink will also host several Section V hockey games, and blocks of ice time will also be made available to the public for various events.

"We are extremely excited to work with our community partners in bringing outdoor hockey to Rochester," Black said in a news release announcing the event. "While the chance to play an outdoor game will be an exciting opportunity for our players and coaches, the event as a whole will allow the entire community to share in a special experience."

The festival will be run from Dec. 13-22. Exact dates and ticket information will be announced at a later date.

Son of Patrick Roy impressing at Sabres camp

Those who were glad to see Derek Roy shipped out of Buffalo needn’t worry about the name that’s been floating around ice at Sabres prospect camp this week.

Frederick Roy has no relation to the former Sabres center. His NHL bloodlines are even better.

Frederick is the son of Patrick Roy, the Hall-of-Famer who was the winningest goalie in NHL history when he retired in 2003 (551 wins), only to be passed by Martin Brodeur, who has 656 and counting.

“[The name] has followed me my whole life,” Frederick said after practice Tuesday at the First Niagara Center. “I’m proud of what my father did and accomplished in his career. For me, he’s a role model.

“He taught me there’s one way to play to game: the hard way. It’s 100 percent every time I step on that ice. I give my heart and soul to the team I’m playing with.”

Last season, that team was the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), coached by none other than Patrick Roy.

“We [manage that relationship] that really well.” Frederick said of playing for his dad. “We knew that when we got to the ice rink, it was business. I was just another player. At home, we’re really close and we’re really good friends and everything.”

Roy’s size -- he's listed for camp at 5-foot-10, 160 pounds -- may have been a contributing factor to why he wasn’t drafted, but his numbers are there. He scored 53 goals in the last two years with Quebec and put up 92 points in 64 games last season while on a line with Sabres’ first-round pick Mikhail Grigorenko, who couldn’t say enough about Roy.

“I was playing with him all year long, I think he was one of the best linemates in my life,” Grigorenko said. “With him, he makes you better. He’ll always support you and he works hard and he wins all his battles and he’s a really smart player and he always passes the puck. For me, I really enjoyed to play with him.”

Roy also knows development camp member Marcus Foligno. Foligno’s father (and former Sabre) Mike was an assistant coach with Colorado in the late ‘90s while Patrick Roy was on the team. Foligno said he and Frederick enjoyed horsing around in the locker room together as 8- and 9-year-olds.

Frederick originally tried to be a goalie like dad, but said he “didn’t have the patience for it.”

Roy is eager to prove teams wrong for passing over him. He cites improvements to his speed and overall strength as areas to improve on but thinks he has a shot to earn a minor-league contract out of camp.

“I play both ways of the ice,” Roy said. “I can score, I can pass. I’m more of a playmaker. I can play D-zone, I like to finish my checks. ... I just have to show the scouts and the coaches and everyone else.”

---Nick Veronica

Twitter: @NickVeronica

Five absent as Sabres open development camp

Five of last year's Buffalo Sabres who played a combined 145 games headlined the participants of team's development camp today at the First Niagara Center, which includes practice sessions Tuesday and Wednesday mornings before a Blue-Gold scrimmage Thursday night. 

Forwards Luke Adam, Marcus Foligno, Cody Hodgson and Corey Tropp and defenseman Brayden McNabb gave a veteran presence to a group of 39 professional, junior and college players the Sabres hope may one day contribute to the big club.

Sabres first-round draft picks Mikhail Grigorenko, Zemgus Girgensons, Joel Armia (2011) and Mark Pysyk (2010) are also in attendance.

The original list of camp participants included 40 names, but was reduced when Lake Superior State product Kyle Jean signed with the New York Rangers last week.

Of the 39 players listed as participating in the camp, 35 skated in practice. Defensemen Mark Adams and Brady Austin, along with forward Shawn Szydlowski, did not appear on the roster for practice groups. Forwards Christian Isackson and Jacob Lagace were listed on the practice sheet but did not appear on the ice.

Sabres officials said all five players are in Buffalo for camp. Though the players had an intense early-morning workout, the team said none of the absences were injury-related. 

A full list of participants can be found here.

...

Practice opens again tomorrow at 10 a.m. and runs until 12:30 p.m. Practice sessions are free and open to the public, while Thursday's scrimmage costs $10. Those interested in coming down to the arena should bring an extra layer -- fans in shorts and t-shirts learned the hard way Monday.

---Nick Veronica

Twitter: @NickVeronica

Around the boards: Connolly, Conacher, Carolina

---Tim Connolly didn't practice today in Toronto for what his teammates are telling reporters were personal reasons (TSN says it's family-related).  No word yet on his status for the Sabres/Leafs games the next two nights. 

---Big night for former Canisius star Cory Conacher, who got a goal for the Tampa Bay Lightning against St. Louis Wednesday. Conacher even played on a line with Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis.  The undrafted free agent is pushing hard for a roster spot and impressing coach Guy Boucher, as this St. Pete Times story says. Conacher is expected to play again Friday against the Florida Panthers.

Also on the local college front, former Niagara star Matt Caruana was returned by the Leafs to the Toronto Marlies, where he scored six goals in 33 games last season.

---The Carolina Hurricanes have signed GM Jim Rutherford to a four-year extension.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Sabres announce roster for NHL Prospect Tournament

The Sabres won't be having a rookie camp in HSBC Arena this season, partly because of the ongoing locker room renovations but also because they're going to instead take their young players to Traverse City, Mich., for the first time and play in the NHL Prospect Tournament that has been run since 1998 in cooperation with the Detroit Red Wings' training camp.

The Sabres will be joining the Red Wings, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues at the event, which runs Sept. 10-14. Count this as a big added expense on the scouting/development side under new owner Terry Pegula: Traverse City, a city of about 15,000 people, is in extreme northwest Michigan, a four-hour drive from Detroit.

Some big prospect names will be on the Sabres' roster, such as forwards Luke Adam, Zack Kassian and Marcus Foligno, and defensemen Brayden McNabb and Mark Pysyk. Defenseman Alex Lepkowski, the West Seneca native drafted in the fifth round in June, will also play. 

Teams are divided into two divisions for a round-robin portion of the tournament and then ranked by their win-loss records for final placement in 7th-, 5th-, 3rd-place and championship games on the final day. The winning team will be given a plaque and their name put on a trophy to be housed at Centre Ice Arena.

Buffalo's full roster:

Forwards: Adam, Kassian, Foligno, Steven Beyers, Riley Boychuk, Daniel Catenacci, Cedrick Henley, Jacob Legace, Jonathan Parker, Steven Shipley, Kevin Sundher, Gregg Sutch, Shawn Szydlowski, Corey Tropp, Phil Varone.
Defense: Pysyk, McNabb, Lepkowski, Alex Biega, Nick Crawford, Corey Fienhage, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc, Matt MacKenzie.
Goalies: Nathan Lieuwen, Ryan Rondeau.

The complete schedule for the tournament is at this link. The Sabres open against Minnesota Sept. 10 at 3:30. They then meet Columbus at 2:30 on Sept. 11 and Detroit at 7 p.m. on Sept. 13 before playing their placement game on Sept. 14.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Vote for your three stars

Live from the Arena: Sabres vs. Kanes, er, Hawks

Greetings from high atop HSBC Arena as the Sabres meet the Chicago Blackhawks in their third game of the season and the midpoint of their arduous six-games-in-nine-nights run to open the schedule. The Sabres (1-1) talked a pretty good talk this morning in the wake of their home-opening stinker Saturday night against the Rangers while the Blackhawks (0-1-1) are simply trying to get in the win column.

Plenty of South Buffalo folk, all likely related to Patrick Kane, in the house this morning for the Hawks' pregame skate. It's been open all three times Kane has come to Buffalo and that's a nice touch by the Hawks (visitors' skates are almost always closed). Be sure to check out the audio of Kane's in-depth interview with reporters today at our earlier post. 

Let's see how the Sabres fare in the effort department tonight. They simply didn't answer the bell Saturday and a stern captain Craig Rivet was pretty adamant about his feelings when I approached him this morning.

"The effort was not there which is probably the most diappointing thing," Rivet said. "That starts upstairs [pointing to his head]. You have to make sure your brain is working and it will tell your body what to do. ... We need to play a lot better hockey."

Lindy Ruff surprised all of us when he admitted his team might have gotten a little full of itself in the wake of a solid preseason that was capped by a 9-3 win over Philadelphia's 'B' team and its opening 40 minutes of domination at Ottawa. Ruff had plenty of words on the ice this morning for Thomas minus-5 Vanek and Drew Stafford, who has been invisible since the first period of the opener.

"The message was it wasn't good enough," Ruff said. "I talked [to Vanek] about the game and about the five or six great opportunities in the Ottawa game and sometimes frustration gets to him. We're by that point. We're an older team now. Frustration can't effect your play. keep your nose to the grindstone."

We'll see if the Sabres get their work ethic in tow tonight. Keep it here for all of your updates and observations. And there better be no "Chelsea Dagger" played in this building tonight.

Kane will be in the starting lineup tonight at right wing, with Brian Bickell on the left side and Patrick Sharp, who would have looked nice in a Sabres jersey as part of the Hawks' salary purge, in the middle. The Sabres are shuffling things from this morning with Derek Roy starting between Drew Stafford and Jochen Hecht.

This one doesn't appear close to a sellout. Lots of empties on the corners five minutes before faceoff.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Third Period

Here's the MSG feed on the Pominville hit

An announcement was just made here that Pominville is "resting comfortably" in the Sabres locker room.

16:24 left: Too much room for Hossa. Montador keeps backing in and the winger drills one past Miller to make it 4-2. His second of the night. 

14:36 left: We have a Tim Connolly sighting. His first of the year is a tap-in as a pinching Montador shoved the puck across the crease. Sabres trail, 4-3. Let's see if that gets the life back in this club. 

13:37 left: Kopecky for delay of game gives the Sabres a huge PP chance.

8:50 left: Power play has been a disaster in this game. Where have we heard that before? It's 0 for 4. Morrisonn goes for hooking -- Hawks are 1 for 2. 

7:31 left: Roy, who has easily been the best Sabre in three games, outworks Norris Trophy winner Keith in a race and battle for the puck and gets a quick one-handed shot toward Crawford. No. 9 came to play this season. For the most part, No. 19 has not. 

5:02 left: The building is oddly dead. Shots are 32-29 for Buffalo, 9-8 in this period. It's a one-goal game but it seems like it's 7-3. Attendance announced at 17,896. That's about 800 shy of a sellout. Seems right.

3:10 left: Super saves by Crawford on Gaustad and Grier keep the Hawks in front.  Crawford has 30 saves in his first game of the season and has allowed only one goal since the first three minutes.

2:28 left: Too many men on the ice for the Hawks. The power play MUST come through here.

26.1 left: One shot on the PP -- with Miller out for the final half of it. Terrible job all night.

It's over: A 4-3 loss. Shots were 35-30.
 

----------------

HERE'S THE POMINVILLE HIT, FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO MISSED IT. Repeating our bulletin: He has a concussion and will not return to the game but remains in the building and has not been taken to a hospital. 

 

Second Period

Of note: Kane, of course, remains at minus-2 in the game because his goal was on the power play. Three more shots on goal from Vanek in the first 20 minutes, all from in close, but no goals. 

18:30 left: We're under way and Miller stops Kane from in front and then pops Brian Bickell with his glove for getting too close. Miller is obviously agitated by the Pominville situation; while his teammates (led by Connolly) correctly went after Hjalmarsson, the goalie was the first one waving to the bench for help. 

15:52 left: It's tied at 2-2. Grier can't clear the zone and Nick Leddy's shot banks in off Morrisonn. Toews grabs the puck for first NHL goal.

UPDATE: POMINVILLE HAS A CONCUSSION AND IS STILL IN THE BUILDING. HE HAS NOT BEEN TRANSPORTED TO THE HOSPITAL

14:39 left: McCormick pounds Jake Dowell. The Sabres are obviously agitated. Kaleta, however, also got an interference penalty so Buffalo is short-handed.

9:30 left: We're still tied at 2-2. Shots are 13-2 for Chicago in this period. The Hawks have been all over the Sabres, who seem dispirited by the Pominville situation. 

2:04 left: Miller stops Kane streaking through the right circle. He's kept the Sabres in this period.

1:13 left: The Hawks lead 3-2 as Hossa beats Miller on a clear breakaway. Myers and Morrisonn didn't notice Hossa as he snuck off the bench. That can't happen. Just can't.

38.8 left: Sabres go to the power play as Hossa goes for interference.

End-2nd: Hawks lead, 3-2. Shots were 17-10 for Chicago. It's 23-22 for Buffalo.

First Period

19:46 left: THAT'S how you start. Roy feeds Stafford for a quick slot in the slot and it's 1-0 after 14 seconds. Remember that power-play layup Stafford missed early Saturday? No mistake this time. Roy and Leopold with the assists.

17:28 left: A little Angola-South Buffalo rivalry perhaps? Kane is stopped by Miller on a routine wrist shot and Kaleta chirps in his ear at the whistle.

17:17 left: Wow. Roy puts home a Stafford rebound to make it 2-0 and the Seabrook-Keith defense pair for the Hawks looks stuck in the mud. Already Roy's fourth of the year. From Hecht and Stafford. Two goals on four shots.  Some pretty big talent all minus-2 already for the Hawks: Keith-Seabrook-Sharp-Kane.

15:11 left: Are the Hawks even in the building? They're getting outshot 6-1 and now Dave Bolland is going to the box for hooking.

13:48 left: That PP could have created a stranglehold. Instead, it ends disastrously as Connolly commits a lazy turnover along the wall and then is sent off for tripping Marian Hossa. Hawks go down the ice and Seabrook barely missed potting a rebound. 

Here are the lines that have skated: Hecht-Roy-Stafford, Vanek-Connolly-Pominville, Ennis-Niedermayer-Grier, Gaustad-McCormick-Kaleta. On defense, it's Leopold-Montador, Morrisonn-Myers and Sekera-Rivet.

12:16 left: Kane makes that a minus-1, dancing through the Buffalo zone while celebrating the second hometown tally of his career. It was a quick wrist shot that Miller appeared to get a piece of. What a difference that blown PP makes now. Kane's first of the season. Also the first PP goal against Buffalo. Sabres, 2-1.

9:00 left: Some wild action in about a 20-second span. Kaleta nearly pushes the puck across the line (getting smoke from the scoreboard but there's no goal ruled). Keith fires just wide for the Hawks (or it may have grazed the post) and Vanek is stopped on a partial breakaway. Still 2-1 with shots at 9-5 for Buffalo.

5:42 left: Pominville down on the ice. Crushed along the boards by a brutally dirty hit by Niklas Hjalmarsson. He's gone but much more important, Pominville hasn't moved and the stretcher is on the ice. Pominville is strapped to the stretcher and taken off the ice. He moved his right arm and was talking to doctors as he was wheeled off. The game continues after a delay of seven minutes. It's a five-minute boarding major, a game misconduct and it better be about a 10-game suspension too.

4:21 left: The Sabres had two good chances but were stopped by Crawford and Myers crushes Fernando Pisani along the boards to get the crowd going. The building is still stunned by the Pominville situation.

POMINVILLE UPDATE: The Sabres' right winger was taken through the Zamboni entrance and to the arena medical station rather than a local hospital upon exiting the ice. The right winger had his hands crossed on his chest and was followed down the hall by his wife. There is no immediate word on his condition or the next step in the medical process ---John Vogl

End of the 1st: The Sabres lead, 2-1, and have a 13-5 edge in shots. We'll obviously have more on Pominville when it becomes available. Pominville is the team's active leader in consecutive games played -- tonight was his 336th straight since being a healthy scratch against Philadelphia on April 7, 2006.

 

Prospect camp opens July 5

Mark your calendars for your first look at the Sabres' prospects. The team announced late Monday afternoon that its annual development camp will run July 5-9 at Niagara University's Dwyer Arena. There will be an on-ice session each day open to the public featuring the camp's 42 prospects. Top choice Mark Pysyk is scheduled to attend. Public workouts are currently slated for the following times:

---Monday July 5, 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
---Tuesday, July 6, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
---Wednesday, July 7, 4-5:30 p.m.
---Thursday, July 8, 4-6:30 p.m.
---Friday, July 9, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Kassian arrested in Windsor bar fight

Bad news on the Zack Kassian front: The Sabres' No. 1 pick from last season and a key member of Windsor's Memorial Cup winning team was arrested early Sunday morning in the wake of an altercation in a downtown Windsor nightclub. Details in this Windsor Star story remain sketchy.

Seems like Kassian, who served a 20-game suspension this year after a brutal hit during an Ontario Hockey League game, has quite the mean streak in him. And while that can be a good thing, of course, he better learn to harness it if he wants to have a solid NHL career.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Ennis wins AHL rookie of the year award

Tyler Ennis has been named the winner of the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding rookie, giving the Sabres back-to-back winners of the award.

Nathan Gerbe won AHL rookie of the year honors last season in voting from coaches, media and players in each of the league's 29 cities.

Ennis was Buffalo's second first-round pick in the 2008 draft, behind Tyler Myers. The second-round pick from '08, Luke Adam, signed his pro contract with the Sabres earlier today and that draft could easily go down as one of the best in franchise history.

Ennis leads all AHL rookies with 23 goals, 42 assists and 65 points in 69 games for Portland this season. He is also second with six game-winning goals and third with nine power-play tallies and was the most valuable player of the AHL All-Star Game played in Portland.

Ennis scored for the Sabres in his NHL debut Nov. 14 at Philadelphia and has three goals and five assists in seven games for the Sabres this season. With the announcement that Jochen Hecht is out for the final three games of the regular season, it looks almost certain that Ennis will make Buffalo's playoff roster.

Past winners of the AHL rookie award include names like Terry Sawchuk (1949), ex-Sabre goalies Roger Crozier (1964) and Gerry Desjardins (1968), Rick Middleton (1974), Ron Hextall  (1986), Brett Hull (1987) and ex-Sabres captain Daniel Briere (1998).

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

On the farm: Ennis honored, KO'd; Gerbe back

Portland Pirates center Tyler Ennis was named AHL Rookie of the Month today but the Sabres are probably holding their breath over their prized prospect's health after he was knocked out of Sunday's game against Albany by a cross-check to the face.

Ennis is officially listed as day-to-day and this story from the Portland Press Herald details the incident and coach Kevin Dineen's unhappy reaction. The same story, meanwhile, tells us that Nathan Gerbe was back in the Portland lineup Sunday. He has missed 16 of the last 17 games with a concussion.

Ennis had 17 points in 14 February games (six goals, 11 assists). He's ninth in the league in scoring with 59 points (19-40) and leads all AHL rookies.

---Mike Harrington
(www.tiwtter.com/bnharrington)

AHL takes it outside today

While the long wait continues for Sunday's USA-Canada clash in Vancouver, the AHL is providing plenty of options today. As John Vogl told you yesterday, the Portland Pirates open a two-game series tonight in Rochester and they're the hottest team in the league. Portland tied its franchise record with its 10th straight victory Friday night, a 3-2 win in Albany, and can break the mark this evening in Blue Cross Arena.

The other big story today takes place further up the Thruway in Syracuse, where the Crunch and Binghamton Senators may break the AHL attendance record when they play an outdoor game at the New York State Fairgrounds. The game starts at 1 and will be televised by the NHL Network. So will a pregame show that starts at 12:30. More than 19,000 tickets have already been sold and the AHL mark of 20,672 is within reach. Sabres broadcaster and former player Rob Ray will be part of an autograph signing during the first intermission in a day full of activities for fans.

Taking it outside is the theme of the day on NHL Network. Today's programming is filled with repeats of the past NHL outdoor games. The 2008 Sabres-Penguins game at the Ralph will air at 6 p.m. tonight and 8 a.m. Sunday. Today's airing comes right after a 3:30 showing of a long-forgotten 1991 preseason game between the Wayne Gretzky-led Kings and Rangers outdoors at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Pirates visiting Rochester

Itching to see live hockey halfway through the Sabres' Olympic break? This weekend provides a prime opportunity.

The Portland Pirates will play back-to-back games down the road in Rochester. The Amerks host the Sabres' minor-leaguers at 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

The Pirates have been rolling. They took nine straight wins into Friday's game in Albany. Rochester, meanwhile, was searching for the 2,000th victory in franchise history Friday against Manitoba. Most of those wins came during the Amerks' 29 years as the Sabres' affiliate.

Rochester will induct three members to its Hall of Fame Sunday -- while opening a permanent hall. Randy Cunneyworth, Jim Wiemer and Kent Weisbeck earn the honor, with festivities beginning at 1 p.m.

---John Vogl

Kassian hit leads to indefinite suspension

UNIONDALE -- Zack Kassian, the Sabres' No. 1 draft pick last year from Peterborough, has been indefinitely suspended by the Ontario Hockey League for a shot to the head in a game this week against Barrie. Kassian, now playing for his hometown team in Windsor after a trade, left his feet on the hit and will miss at least the next two games before the OHL reviews the situation.

Kassian has a history of suspensions for on-ice indiscretions and will certainly need to learn where the line is drawn as he moves on in his career. There's a good chance he could be on Team Canada in next year's World Junior Championships.

Here's the hit that earned the suspension. Leave your feet and go to the head, you're going to get nailed I would say. What do you think?

---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Ice chips: Paetsch on waivers

After their charter plane got stuck in the mud before they got to the Montreal airport, the Sabres returned to their hotel and hunkered down for the night. They didn't get home until around 11 this morning so coach Lindy Ruff canceled practice. Some odds and ends from the notebook:

---Sabres utility man Nathan Paetsch has been put on waivers. Might he get claimed? We'll see. Adam Mair got through waivers earlier in the year. Paetsch has some versatility that you'd think would be attractive to teams. Plus, he only makes a shade over $1 million on a deal that runs out after this season so you can basically get him for $500K. If he clears waivers, the bet is the Sabres would send him to Portland to get some ice time.

---Canada and the U.S. play for the gold medal in the World Junior Championships Tuesday night at 8 in Saskatoon (Sabres prospect Luke Adam plays for Canada). You can watch it live on NHL Network. Worth a look if you haven't checked out any of this tournament yet. And remember, of course, that the next version of it comes to HSBC Arena starting Dec. 26.

---The Bruins and Rangers meet tonight at 7 on Versus. Boston is seven points back in the Northeast Division and will join the Sabres at 41 games played after tonight.

---Look for Team USA Olympic coach Ron Wilson to make Ryan Miller his man in Vancouver. Said Wilson on a conference call today: "I would in my mind tend to .... play one goalie, ride the hot goalie. One of our things here was when we talked with our players is we're not going to Vancouver to prepare anybody for Sochi (the 2014 Games site in Russia). This is about going to Vancouver to win a gold medal. Generally speaking, teams in the past that have won goal medals played one goaltender. It's not unlike what you do in the playoffs."

---What's up with the Penguins? They've lost five straight, including Sunday's 6-2 defeat in Florida. Evgeni Malkin's struggles continued in that one and he took the blame

---Ratings for the Winter Classic in Boston were down but Yahoo's Puck Daddy blog said that shouldn't be cause for concern.

---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Inside the lines

The Sabres are boarding their plane for Nashville today with a few new line combinations.

After averaging 1.5 goals in the first two games coach Lindy Ruff is looking for an offensive spark.

Ruff has reunited the line of Derek Roy, Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford. He has moved Tim Connolly to center, between Clarke MacArthur and Jason Pominville. Tim Kennedy practiced in the middle of Jochen Hecht and Mike Grier. Finally, Paul Gaustad skated with Matt Ellis and Patrick Kaleta.

---John Vogl

Live from the Arena: Sabres vs. 'Yotes

Greetings from HSBC Arena as the Sabres face the Hamilton Steelheads in their first ever visit to Buffalo since moving from .... oops. Didn't happen. Still the Phoenix Coyotes in town. Never mind. But they are the unbeaten and now-Wayne Gretzky-less Coyotes as new coach Dave Tippett has them off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2004.

A shout out to the Sabres' game staff from this Inside Pitch blogger for putting the end of the riveting Phillies-Rockies playoff game on the HD board prior to the warmup instead of the usual Sabres classic footage (which is always entertaining too). Folks then saw Matt Holliday's home run for the Cardinals in LA before the hockey teams took to the ice and warmups went up on the board. Nice.

Ilya Bryzgalov got the shutout for Phoenix last night in Pittsburgh so Jason LaBarbera will start in goal for the visitors tonight. Ryan Miller for the Sabres (Patrick Lalime Saturday in Nashville? You wonder).

Live updates to come.

---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Third Period

18:05 left: Gaustad goes for slashing. The Coyotes are 0 for 2 with three shots on the PP so far.

17:23 left: The Coyotes convert as Matthew Lombardi tips home a perfect pass in the slot from Adrian Aucoin to make it 1-0. Watch the visitors sit back now and protect the lead and try for their second shutout in two nights.

15:46 left: Never mind. GREAT play by Myers to keep the puck in and feed McArthur, who scores on the backhand to make it 1-1. Myers, however, was lying in a crumpled heap on the ice as he was wiped out by Shane Doan. Looked like Myers hit his head on the ice as his helmet came off just as he was going down.

13:37 left: Repeating: Kaleta is in the Coyotes' heads. Upshall just got a four-minute high sticking penalty for going after him when a whistle was blown. Sabres have to take advantage of such stupidity.

9:23 left: HORRIBLE move by the game staff. They just showed the Kaleta-Prucha hit again on the HD board as the collision of the night, sponsored by your prominent local collision shop. Several Phoenix players were looking at the board and barking about it. No class move by the folks here. And a good way to fire up the opponent in a 1-1 game. Think about the game, people. Not your stupid little videos and promotions.

8:18 left: Great save by Miller stopping a Vrbata tip-in. Shots are 7-3 this period and 37-21 for the game.

5:47 left: Another stupid Phoenix penalty as Vandermeer drills Vanek to the boards with a cross check from behind in back of the Coyotes net. Sabres HAVE to convert on one of these, right?

3:53 left: Finally, the PP converts as Vanek bangs one home from the slot to make it 2-1. Great feed from the corner by MacArthur after a quick touch pass from Roy.

1:00 left: LaBarbera is out.

Sabres survive: A 2-1 win after a couple close calls in the final 30 seconds. Final shots were 39-24.

Second Period

19:28 left: This one just heated up as Kaleta destroyed Petr Prucha along the boards near the Buffalo bench and Martin Hanzal jumped in to battled the Buffalo winger. Looked like a clean hit. Ed Jovanovski jawed at Kaleta as he headed to the box. Hanzal gets four exta minutes (roughing, instigating) and a 10-minute misconduct. They both get five. So it's a four-minute power play for Buffalo.

14:03 left: The Sabres got six shots on the PP after a rough opening minute but LaBarbera made great saves on Stafford and Myers. Shortly after the penalty ended, Miller made his best stop of the night on Radim Vrbata's one-timer from in front. The Sabres have doubled Phoenix in the shot column, 22-11. That's 57 shots in the first 1 1/2 games -- and just one goal.

12:51 left: Montador loses the puck in the neutal zone and has to take a hooking penalty. Phoenix to the PP for the first time.

11:18 left: Tripping call on Tallinder leave Buffalo two men short for 28 seconds.

8:58 left: Sabres kill it off. Good work by Connolly-Butler-Rivet to start and then Grier when it became a 5-on-4.

2:53 left: James Vandermeer takes a silly roughing penalty for Phoenix with an after-the-whistle shove of Kaleta, who's clearly inside the Coyotes' heads. Would be nice, of course, if the power play would convert on one of these chances.

End-2nd: No score through 40 minutes. Sabres had a 17-10 edge in shots and it's 30-18 through two. It was a wild final two minutes as a video review of a potential Buffalo goal showed Bill McCreary had blown his whislte and then Miller had to stop Vandermeer coming out of the box. Drew Stafford has six shots on goal in the game and Derek Roy has four. But no goals. The Sabres are 0 for 4 on the power play with 11 shots on goal with the man advantage.

First Period

13:29 left: No score as each team has one shot on goal. The Coyotes had the best chance but Miller neatly stopped Scottie Upshall's redirection from just off the crease. No changes in the lines for the Sabres. Kaleta-Ellis-Stafford were the starters. They were followed by Vanek-Roy-Connolly, MacArthur-Kennedy-Pominville and Hecht-Gaustad-Grier. Defense pairs were Butler-Rivet, Montador-Sekera and Tallinder-Myers.

8:30 left: So much for that track meet Lindy Ruff talked about after today's morning skate. The Sabres have a 6-5 edge in shots but had just two in the first 11 minutes. The third and fourth lines have easily been their best. A sprawled-on-his-belly LaBarbera just made a dynamite save on Stafford with his left toe from point-blank range to keep the game scoreless. The Roy and Kennedy lines have generated nothing.

4:50 left: The second line gets a great chance as MacArthur is stopped from in tight after a beautiful feather pass from Kennedy. The kid can really pass the puck. Shots are 10-7 for Buffalo.

4:23 left: I protest the heavily advertised "concession special" on the HD board: a hot dog, chips and souvenir soda all for the low, low price of ..... $9.25?? Yeesh.

2:17 left: Super glove save by Miller on a rising slapper from Upshall. Came a few seconds after Stafford dipsy-dooed too much in front of the Phoenix net and got checked. Fire it, dude.

End of the 1st: No score as Buffalo has a 13-8 edge in shots. Sabres had too many turnovers and too many poor passes over the first 12 minutes. Much better in that area over the final eight. The Roy line continues to overpass and I would imagine Ruff might do some shuffling with that trio if this keeps up. They blew a 3-on-2 in the final minute with overpassing but Butler followed the play and took a loose puck for a good scoring chance. The Coyotes won 11 of 16 faceoffs in the period; Gaustad went 3-1 while the rest of the team went 2-10.

DiPenta gets one-game ban in Portland

For some reason, we kept getting a ton of emails during training camp about free agent defenseman Joe DiPenta, the former Anaheim player who was only on the Sabres' radar to play in Portland and never saw any action in the exhibition season. DiPenta made the Pirates roster -- and promptly earned a one-game suspension from the AHL for an ugly two-hander in Portland's opener Saturday in Springfield.

You can check out the video below. I think DiPenta was lucky it was only one game.


In the same article, we learn that the Sabres signed their final draft pick from June, 20-year old RW Maxime Legault of Shawinigan of the Quebec Junior League, and assigned him to Portland rather than return him to junior. Word out of Portland is that Legault had a good camp with the Pirates.

---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Sabres practice update: Roster down to 33

The Sabres who played in Monday's 2-1 win at Washington were held off the ice today in HSBC Arena and instead simply did dryland training. The others practiced, came off the ice for a break and then scrimmaged. The Sabres host Toronto Wednesday night in HSBC Arena and the game lineup will be announced Wednesday morning.

Patrick Lalime played the entire game in goal Monday so it's a good bet that Ryan Miller will get his second start of the preseason Wednesday. Coach Lindy Ruff was happy with his team's play Monday, especially on the defensive end as the Capitals went 0 for 5 on the power play and were limited to 20 shots overall. And it was a good Washington lineup too, as Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Mike Green all played among other regulars.

"Our penalty killing was excellent," Ruff said "The five-minute power play (when Paul Gaustad got a major for sticking up for Jeff Cowan) we gave up one shot. Three other power plays they didn't get a shot. Pat Kaleta had nine blocked shots in the game. The effort was real good, the desperation ... was good. We've worked hard on doing things differently. The guys have bought in and the defensive effort was good."

The Sabres made got the roster down to 33 with 16 cuts announced late Tuesday afternoon. No surprises. Big draftees like Tyler Ennis, T.J. Brennan and Dennis Persson all headed to Portland. The Pirates open training camp Friday and play an exhibition game Saturday against Lowell. So the Sabres have just a few more cuts after their weekend games at Montreal and Toronto.

The big decisions -- what to do with Tyler Myers, Tim Kennedy and Nathan Gerbe -- have yet to be made and almost certainly won't be until after the exhibition schedule is completed. In today's session with the media, however, Ruff had high praise for Myers' last two games and Kennedy's work at center and as a penalty killer in Washington. No way to read into that just yet.

Henrik Tallinder played 19 minutes in his first game of the preseason and Ruff liked the work of his embattled defenseman. You can read Tallinder's thoughts in Wednesday's paper.

Those Sabres playing in Wednesday night's game should be on the HSBC Arena ice in the 10 a.m. range with the rest going on shortly thereafter. Both sessions are open to the public.

---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

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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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