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Injuries keep coming for Sabres; Hackett earns another start

By John Vogl

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The first five questions of Ted Nolan's post-practice chat today dealt with injured players. Obviously, things aren't getting much better in Sabreland.

Tyler Myers, Marcus Foligno, Torrey Mitchell and Zenon Konopka missed the Sabres' workout in Bridgestone Arena with various ailments, while goaltender Michal Neuvirth has been sent back to Buffalo for further evaluation of his lower-body injury.

"Every game somebody goes down," Nolan said. "It’s one of those things when things go bad, they go bad."

While Foligno should be back Thursday when the Sabres visit the Nashville Predators, he's the only definite. Myers is banged up after crashing into a goal post, Konopka is out with a back injury suffered on an airplane ride and Mitchell is unlikely to play after getting hurt in Tuesday's 2-0 loss in Montreal.

"Tyler Myers, more of a rest day," Nolan said. "He took a pretty good bang last night crashing into the goal post, so maintenance day today. We’ll see how he mends later on. We’ll probably make a call later this evening whether he can go or not.

"Mitchell, his is something that’s maybe a little more serious, but we’ll take a look at him later, too."

Nolan said a couple of players in Rochester will be put on call if it looks like players won't be ready.

"There’s a silver lining for everything," Nolan said. "Now it gives more kids from Rochester who are playing well maybe have a chance to play up here."

One recent callup from Rochester will play again. Matt Hackett has earned another start in goal after stopping 33 of 35 shots against the Canadiens. He had 35 saves during a 3-1 win over Edmonton last week.

"Hackett definitely earned it," Nolan said. "That’s one thing about now, it’s audition time. When you audition and you do a couple good things in the auditions, you should get another one. He played well the last two games, particularly the last game in Montreal. I thought he was a difference maker. It could have been a lot worse, but he kept us in the game."

Lines are shuffled, goalies shuffled as Hackett will start vs. Oilers

By Mike Harrington

SHERWOOD PARK, Alberta -- The Sabres worked out for an hour today in the suburban practice facility that doubles as the Edmonton Oilers' part-time home and there were two main areas of news that come out of it:

Goaltending: Matt Hackett will make his Buffalo debut as the starter Thursday night in Rexall Place after Nathan Lieuwen played well in Calgary. Michal Neuvirth practiced fully and is on track to return Sunday in Vancouver. Hackett has 13 games of NHL experience with Minnesota.

Forward lines: Coach Ted Nolan juggled them and Marcus Foligno will replace Cory Conacher on the wing with red-hot Drew Stafford and Tyler Ennis. That trio hopes to reprise their scoring surge that was the talk of the NHL during Buffalo's 2012 playoff push that fell short. 

The playoffs are a pipe dream for this edition of the Sabres, who have lost seven straight and have just six goals in those games.

"Hopefully we have luck like that again and put up some points here," Foligno said.

"They've both got their game going," Nolan said of Stafford and Ennis. "You can't ask for much more from those two so it would be unfair for us to break them up. With Conacher, he had a couple empty-net tap in goals and he missed them. Maybe it will be good for Marcus to get in that position where his confidence could rise a little bit."

The other key move up front is returning Cody Hodgson to center from the wing. He was between Conacher and Torey Mitchell. Brian Flynn was centering Matt D'Agostini and Nicolas Deslauriers while Ville Leino was dropped to the fourth line with Matt Ellis. John Scott and Zenon Konopka were splitting the time on the other wing.

As for the goaltending, Nolan said the Sabres simply want a look at Hackett. When Neuvirth returns one of the newcomers in net will return to Rochester so this could be a quick look for Hackett. 

Hackett is just 13-17-2 for the Amerks with a 3.07 GAA and .898 save percentage. Not what you'd expect from a guy with the big prospect label acquired from Minnesota in the Jason Pominville trade. Hackett was refreshingly frank about his season today.

"I don't think I was working hard enough at the start of the year," said Hackett, who credited Amerks goalie coach and former Canisius netminder Bob Janosz for staying with him. "My work ethic had to improve and get better. As a goalie you're alwys battling with your partner. It's a healthy competition. I'm just trying to get my game back and work hard."

Click below to hear the complete conversations with the media from Nolan and Hackett.

Ted Nolan

Matt Hackett

Hackett joins the Sabres on emergency basis as goalie carousel continues to spin

By John Vogl

Ted Nolan said there was a chance Buffalo would need to bring three goalies on its long road trip. He was right.

The Sabres recalled Matt Hackett from Rochester on an emergency basis this afternoon. It's the second straight day the organization has summoned a netminder from the Amerks. Nathan Lieuwen got the call Sunday after a lower-body injury made Michal Neuvirth unavailable for a loss to Montreal. Lieuwen's ticket to Calgary for Tuesday's game was punched when Jhonas Enroth suffered a leg injury Sunday night.

Enroth posted an Instagram picture this afternoon of his leg in an air cast and wrote that he will be in it for the next couple of weeks. Neuvirth remains day-to-day, making Hackett's arrival necessary.

Hackett, who appeared in 13 NHL games with Minnesota, has played in 33 for the Amerks with a 13-17-2 record, .898 save percentage and 3.07 goals-against average.

The Amerks' netminders are expected to be Andrey Makarov and Connor Knapp.

Sabres' Hackett: 'I never seen getting called up after six goals coming'

By John Vogl

PITTSBURGH -- The Amerks' season debut Friday was as forgettable as they come for the team and Matt Hackett -- until the goalie's phone rang.

About midnight, hours after getting torched for six goals in less than two periods of an 8-1 loss to Grand Rapids, Hackett was set to fall asleep. Instead, he hopped in his car and drove to Buffalo to possibly be the Sabres' backup tonight.

"I never seen getting called up after six goals coming," Hackett said today in Consol Energy Center.

The Sabres called up Hackett after learning that Ryan Miller has a lower-body problem and might not be available to dress against the Penguins. Hackett is on a goalie exemption and doesn't count against the roster, General Manager Darcy Regier said.

"I’m just here to back up tonight, I guess," said Hackett, who was driven to Pittsburgh this morning to join the team.

Hackett clearly wants to forget the Amerks' debut, which left him with a 9.84 goals-against average and .800 save percentage after he stopped 24 of 30 shots in 36:35.

"It was just one of those games," Hackett said. "We came out really flat. We’ve got some things to figure out down there, but we’re a confident group and we’ll get back and figure it out."

Amerks coach complimentary of Sabres' prospects Girgensons, Hackett, Larsson

By John Vogl

ROCHESTER -- The Sabres' season is done, and their minor-league club can't afford another loss. Rochester is in a 2-0 hole to the Toronto Marlies, and Game Three of the best-of-five series is Wednesday night in Rochester.

Though the team is in trouble, the prospects are getting rave reviews from Amerks coach Chadd Cassidy. Here are his thoughts from today on forward Zemgus Girgensons, selected in the first round last year, and center Johan Larsson and goalie Matt Hackett, who were acquired in the trade that sent Jason Pominville to Minnesota.

Continue reading "Amerks coach complimentary of Sabres' prospects Girgensons, Hackett, Larsson" »

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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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