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Four forwards close to return but Nolan says Enroth, Neuvirth both likely done for year

By Mike Harrington

PHILADELPHIA -- The Sabres will continue to field a pretty thin lineup for tonight's game against the Flyers in Wells Fargo Center (reminder: 7:30 on NBCSN, not MSG). But Ted Nolan was optimistic after today's morning skate that could change in a big way as soon as Tuesday's visit by Detroit to First Niagara Center.

Marcus Foligno, Chris Stewart and Drew Stafford will all sit out again today but Foligno and Stewart skated fully. And even though Stafford did not take the ice, Nolan said there's a good chance all three could play against the Red Wings.

Seeing Foligno in particular was a shock. Nolan ruled him out for the season after the winger suffered what looked like  a serious knee injury Thursday in St. Louis.

"I was very shocked and quite surprised he was able to walk around yesterday," Nolan said. "So to see him on the ice is very encouraging news."

"It was pretty gross," Foligno said of the replay of him going to the ice. "If you had told me I was gonna be skating while I was falling, I would have told you I had no chance. It's felt pretty good. After coming off it was more of a stinger and bone bruise. No ACL, MCL, meniscus. I was able to keep icing it, days off and today back on the ice."

Nolan said forward Torrey Mitchell could return Tuesday, or Thursday in New York. So if the Sabres get some help up front, it could be a factor in their quest to avoid being the NHL's lowest-scoring team since expansion. And the return of all four players would mean Luke Adam, Johan Larsson and perhaps Nicolas Deslauriers can head to Rochester to help the Amerks' playoff quest, which got a big boost Saturday in Toronto.

So who IS up front tonight? The lines this morning looked like this:

Conacher-Ennis-Leino
Hodgson-Girgensons-D'Agostini
Adam-Larsson-Deslauriers
Scott-Flynn-Ellis.

As for other injured Sabres, Mike Weber is nursing a foot problem and didn't skate but will play tonight. Nolan also expects Tyler Myers to play this week. On the down side, the coach has pretty much ruled out the return of Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth this season.

"I don't see it unless there's another Marcus Foligno miracle happening with those two guys," Nolan said.

Nathan Lieuwen will get the start in goal tonight, while the Flyers will go with Steve Mason. Philly had an optional skate this morning after yesterday's 5-2 loss in Boston that dropped the Flyers to 1-4-2 in their last seven games.

Click below to hear today's sessions with the media by Nolan and Foligno:

Ted Nolan

Marcus Foligno

Sabres' Nolan talks with players, making position changes for Leino, Foligno, Girgensons

By John Vogl

Ted Nolan has a reputation as a coach for whom players would run through a wall. He earns it through motivational techniques and by proving he's with them and believes in them. The latter trait is already shining through.

The Sabres' new coach sat down individually with players to learn about their backgrounds and desires. It's leading to a few changes designed to help the players -- and, by extension, the team -- perform better.

Nolan said erstwhile wingers Ville Leino and Zemgus Girgensons will play center tonight when the Sabres host Toronto in First Niagara Center. Marcus Foligno, who had been put in the middle recently, will move back to the wing.

"We want to put these players where they feel comfortable so there's no excuses," Nolan said after the morning skate, which ended differently than it had under former coach Ron Rolston.

The players congregated in the middle of the ice for post-drill stretching, an exercise done more for camaraderie than for the muscles. Players tapped their sticks when Henrik Tallinder skated to the middle to lead the stretch, and they talked and laughed throughout the maneuvers.

Under Rolston, players quickly went their separate ways at the end and a sense of team was lacking. Guys definitely felt "lighter" today, Nolan said. The coach said Tyler Ennis looked like he had "a 50-pound weight off his back."

Mikhail Grigorenko, Johan Larsson and Nikita Zadorov will be the Sabres' healthy scratches. Mike Weber (thumb) will return next week.

To hear from Nolan and his expectations on what's sure to be an emotional return to the Sabres' bench, click the audio file below.

Sabres' centers get attention with Canucks in Buffalo

By John Vogl

Cody Hodgson is not completely healthy. He's missed several practices, and the Sabres center skipped today's morning skate.

Still, he'll be in the lineup tonight when Buffalo hosts his former team, the Vancouver Canucks.

"He’s fine. He’ll be playing," said Sabres coach Ron Rolston, who conceded his top center is not 100 percent. "He is actually real close. I think we’re probably in the last week of it right now. He’s playing through some things, but he’ll be in the lineup."

A bigger eye should be kept on the Sabres' newest center, Marcus Foligno. He moved last game from left wing to the middle, and tonight he could be lined up against Canucks superstar center Henrik Sedin.

"We have faith that Marcus can handle those situations, and again it offers us a big centerman that can handle some of the bigger guys in the league, whether it’s the Sedins or [John] Tavares the other night, or you’ve got big guys like [Eric] Staal where you need that big body in there, big centerman. But we have confidence in him."

The Sabres' lineup will be:

Thomas Vanek-Hodgson-Steve Ott

Tyler Ennis-Foligno-Drew Stafford

Kevin Porter-Johan Larsson-Brian Flynn

John Scott-Mikhail Grigorenko-Cody McCormick

Henrik Tallinder-Tyler Myers

Christian Ehrhoff-Mark Pysyk

Mike Weber-Rasmus Ristolainen

Ryan Miller will start in goal. Jamie McBain will be scratched on defense, while Zemgus Girgensons will sit after taking a slap shot above his left eye last game.

"It’s actually gotten better," said Rolston, who added the forward could play Saturday against Colorado. "He’s got a little slit there that he can see out of, but he won’t be in there tonight. It’s come a long way over a short period of time."

Ron Rolston

Slow healing by Foligno means Sabres' roster is set; Sulzer clears waivers

By John Vogl

Marcus Foligno is still hurt. Johan Larsson, Brian Flynn and Zemgus Girgensons have made the Sabres because of that.

Buffalo coach Ron Rolston held out hope last week that Foligno's injured shoulder would heal in time for the season opener. However, the big winger was unable to practice again today, and Rolston said Foligno won't be ready for Wednesday's game in Detroit.

That leaves the Sabres with 23 healthy players -- the exact number for the NHL's roster limit, which must be reached by 5 this afternoon. Since the Sabres are already there, Rolston said they don't have to and won't make another move. He said everyone who was at practice today will be back in First Niagara Center on Tuesday.

Flynn, Girgensons and Larsson were the most likely candidates to head to Rochester at the roster deadline because they don't require waivers to be sent to the minors. But with injuries up front to Foligno, Corey Tropp (jaw) and Joel Armia (hand), all three will stick around. Rookie Nikita Zadorov (finger) will join the hurt trio on injured reserve, then return to his junior team when healthy.

The Sabres will enter the season with 14 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders. The logjam at forward leaves uncertainty as to who will be the 20 players to dress against the Red Wings.

The Sabres did limited line work today, but the first four units were as follows:

Thomas Vanek-Cody Hodgson-Drew Stafford

Steve Ott-Tyler Ennis-Ville Leino

Zemgus Girgensons-Mikhail Grigorenko-Brian Flynn

Kevin Porter-Cody McCormick-Patrick Kaleta.

Larsson and John Scott served as the extras.

The top three defense pairs featured Christian Ehrhoff and Mark Pysyk, Henrik Tallinder and Tyler Myers, and Mike Weber and Rasmus Ristolainen, with Jamie McBain rotating in as the extra.

Defenseman Alexander Sulzer, who was waived Sunday, was not claimed by another team and is expected to report to the Amerks.

The Sabres have yet to select a captain. To hear Rolston talk about what type of player he wants to wear the "C," click the audio file below.

Go to the video: A trio of tallies produces a win in Columbus

By Mike Harrington

Here's a video look at the Sabres' goals in Tuesday's 3-1 preseason win in Columbus (with highlights from the Blue Jackets' radio network/arena video feed as sent to Sabres.com).

Marcus Foligno nets the first two, including one on an acrobatic move crossing the front of the net, while Corey Tropp picks the pocket of Blue Jackets goalie Mike McKenna and feeds Mikhail Grigorenko for the insurance tally in the third period.

(Hint: Don't have your cursor over the video box while it's playing or you will get the banner staying on the screen at the top. Move the cursor to the side).

Rolston wants more from Foligno

By John Vogl

Ron Rolston can’t wait for players to get moving. Marcus Foligno learned that Friday.

Rolston sat the Sabres' winger for most of the third period against Ottawa. During practice today, the coach took Foligno off the second power-play unit and replaced him with Brian Flynn.

“He just wasn’t moving his feet as much as he should be,” Rolston said. “Right now we have 12 forwards and six defensemen that are healthy, so we can’t afford guys that aren’t playing the way we have to play.

“He’ll bounce back and he’ll have a good game tomorrow, but everyone has to be playing their best hockey right now.”

Sabres set to scratch struggling Foligno against Panthers

By John Vogl

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Marcus Foligno, one of the many Sabres forwards who are struggling to find the net, won't get a chance tonight. The left winger will be scratched against the Florida Panthers, his first benching of the year.

Foligno has no goals in the last 15 games and only one in Buffalo's 20 outings.

"I’ve got to know that I have a long career ahead of me and just keep working and learn from this," Foligno said.

With legendary tough guy George Parros playing for Florida, John Scott will take Foligno's spot in the lineup. T.J. Brennan will be the defensive scratch. Jordan Leopold will sit with an injury, though he did skate today.

Ryan Miller will start in goal. Read his thoughts on the tumultuous season by clicking here.

Ron Rolston

Postgame audio: Miller, Ott and Foligno after another tough loss

Miller save
Ryan Miller and Mike Weber combine to thwart Chris Neil. (Getty Images)


By Mike Harrington

OTTAWA -- When you're judging quality of defeat, you know it's a bad season. That was the situation the Sabres were in after Tuesday's 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place. 

There was plenty of merit to the thought because it was a big improvement over the previous three games. The offense generated chances (but didn't get nearly enough traffic in front of Craig Anderson) and for a good 35 minutes, the defense wasn't running around in its own end and smartly moved the puck around. No issues with Ryan Miller either. 

Continue reading "Postgame audio: Miller, Ott and Foligno after another tough loss" »

Deja vu video: Foligno does the dirty work on tying goals

By Mike Harrington

Lindy Ruff said it was the first play he thought of. Marcus Foligno said the memory quickly came back to him as well.

The Sabres tied Thursday night's game against Montreal with 1.9 seconds left as Thomas Vanek jabbed home a puck after a bullrush in the offensive zone by Marcus Foligno. It was eerily similar to Jordan Leopold's tying goal last April against Toronto that led to an an overtime victory.

That goal, however, Foligno never saw. After beating Toronto defenseman Mike Komisarek to the spot, Foligno was pinned to the ice with Komisarek's knee on his head. But he had the last word, finally getting up to howl at the Leafs veteran.

Continue reading "Deja vu video: Foligno does the dirty work on tying goals" »

Sabres' reunited line of Foligno-Ennis-Stafford on a short leash

By John Vogl

OTTAWA – The Sabres’ hottest line from the end of last season is back together – for now.

Tyler Ennis will center left wing Marcus Foligno and right wing Drew Stafford when the Sabres visit Ottawa tonight. It’s up to them how long they’ll be together.

Continue reading "Sabres' reunited line of Foligno-Ennis-Stafford on a short leash" »

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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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