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Warmups will decide Hodgson or Ellis in lineup; Enroth gets call

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres are waiting until after warmups for today's 2 p.m. game against the Calgary Flames in First Niagara Center to make a key decision on their lineup. Center Cody Hodgson, who missed Thursday's game in Ottawa with an undisclosed injury, skated on his own this morning and interim coach Ted Nolan said he is feeling better. Hodgson will take the warmup but Matt Ellis has been recalled from Rochester and will skate in his place if Hodgson can't go.

Nolan attended last night's "Frozen Frontier" outdoor game in Rochester between the Amerks and Lake Erie and was duly impressed with Rochester's entertaining shootout victory.

"It was just a great atmosphere to watch. ... You could tell the players enjoyed themselves and the fans enjoyed themselves," Nolan said. "It was a great event. It just doesn't start here. It starts everywhere within the organization with what Rochester is doing now. They're doing a great job."

Ellis revealed that Amerks coach Chadd Cassidy gave him the news of the callup on the ice in the immediate aftermath of his shootout-winning goal -- his first shootout attempt since he was in the East Coast Hockey League in 2002. Ellis said teammate Colton Gillies suggested to Cassidy that Ellis get a crack in the sixth round with the shootout tied at 2-2.

"Sure enough, Chadd said, 'Ellie you're up,' Ellis said here today. "I was excited, a little nervous. It was a strange situation for me but I was pretty pumped to helped bring the two points home."

Ellis has been in Rochester all year but said it's been tough to see all the struggles going on in Buffalo, even from afar.

"I have a personal connection to most of the guys in this locker room, to the staff and to this community," he said. "This is the community I still call home and I'm definitely connected. It's been a unique year to say the least. You talk to guys, hear the ins and outs and it has been hard to watch and know what some of my close friends have had to go through this season."

After the long, cold night outside, is Ellis worried about fatigue if he gets the call? No way.

"I got plenty of energy if need be," he said with a smile. "I would have played at 10 o'clock this morning if I had the chance to."

In goal, it will be Jhonas Enroth for the Sabres against Calgary's Karri Ramo. Enroth (1-6-2, 2.67, .906) posted a 2-1 win over Calgary in his only start against the Flames, which came here in 2011. Nolan also said Brayden McNabb will get back into the lineup, with Mark Pysyk likely to be the scratch on defense (analytics freaks, you may now freak out).

The Flames' lineup will feature ex-Sabres Chris Butler and Paul Byron and West Seneca native Lee Stempniak but the big news is the return of stud rookie Sean Monahan, who has missed seven games with a broken bone in his foot. Monahan, the No. 6 pick in the June draft, has nine goals and six assists in 24 games.

Click below to hear our noon-hour conversations with Nolan and Ellis.

Ted Nolan

Matt Ellis

Frozen Frontier hero Ellis to rejoin big club today

By Mike Harrington

The Rochester Amerks love having Matt Ellis as their captain. When he entered the dressing room after a television interview following his shootout-winning goal Friday night in Frontier Field, his teammates erupted in cheers that entertained the media waiting outside the room. Goalie Matt Hackett and center Johan Larsson, both acquired from Minnesota in April, spoke at length about Ellis' impact on the Sabres' young prospects.

As it turns out, the Amerks will be without Ellis tonight in Syracuse but you know they feel good for him too. That's because the 32-year-old has gotten the call to come back and rejoin the Sabres for this afternoon's game against the Calgary Flames in First Niagara Center.

The team has just confirmed Ellis' recall but has yet to announce a corresponding move. One may not need to be made as Ellis could simply take the spot of Mikhail Grigorenko, on loan to Russia for the World Junior Championships. There is no morning skate today and we'll hear from Ted Nolan around noon to see if Ellis will play today in place of Cody Hodgson, who did not dress Thursday in Ottawa.

Ellis has five goals and five assists in 25 games for Rochester this year. He has played parts of the last five seasons for the Sabres, including 72 games in their 2009-2010 Northeast Division championship season and a seven-goal output in 2008-09.

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 | [email protected]

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 | [email protected]

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 | [email protected]