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Lieuwen, Neuvirth making Sabres' road trip while Enroth, Myers among those staying home

By John Vogl

The Sabres are clearing out of First Niagara Center today to make room for the NCAA Tournament, and they have two piles of equipment bags. One is for the guys going on the 11-day trip. The other is for those who aren't -- and that's a pretty big pile.

Jhonas Enroth, Tyler Myers, Zemgus Girgensons, Alexander Sulzer and Chris Stewart headline the injured players who will stay in Buffalo. Torrey Mitchell expects to play Tuesday in Calgary.

Goaltenders Nathan Lieuwen, who made his NHL debut Sunday against Montreal, and Michal Neuvirth (lower body) are set to fly west. Neuvirth is still day-to-day, so coach Ted Nolan didn't rule out a third netminder joining the team.

"He could wake up tomorrow morning as fresh as a daisy, but we’ll wait till then," Nolan said of Neuvirth.

The recently acquired netminder said he woke up sore Friday after a 51-save performance Thursday in Carolina, but he practiced Saturday morning, took the pregame warmup and backed up Enroth for the Sabres' loss to the New York Islanders.

Neuvirth didn't dress Sunday and skated lightly today.

"It depends how I’m going to feel tomorrow, but I’m feeling better every day," he said in the arena. "I’m hoping it’s going to be good tomorrow."

Enroth is still undergoing testing for the leg injury he suffered during the second period Sunday night.

"It looks a little bit better," Nolan said. "He’s going to get further evaluations. He’s going to stay behind, but it looks a little bit better today than yesterday. Definitely out this trip."

Nolan said Myers could join the Sabres before the end of the journey, which includes stops in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Montreal and Nashville.

Ted Nolan

Nathan Lieuwen

Michal Neuvirth

Neuvirth injury latest obstacle; Enroth to start tonight

By Mike Harrington

Coach Ted Nolan clarified the Sabres' goaltending situation in his pregame briefing with the media this way: Jhonas Enroth will start tonight against Montreal and emergency callup Nathan Lieuwen will be the backup. Michal Neuvirth is day to day with a lower-body injury suffered while he was in the crosshairs of the Carolina shooting gallery Thursday in Raleigh.

Nolan said Lieuwen may need to travel with the team tomorrow to Calgary if Neuvirth is not responding well to treatment. Nolan said the injury happened during Thursday's game but Neuvirth backed up yesterday on Long Island and the Sabres weren't clear there was an issue until after the morning skate.

"All of a sudden one of the guys told us he wasn't feeling too good going in," Nolan said, referring to the team trainers. "We went in the pregame skate and he did everything. He must have just tweaked something, I don't know, maybe walking over to the rink. I don't know when. It was serious enough to warrant a recall."

Enroth will be meeting Montreal third stringer Dustin Tokarski in net tonight. Tokarski has played just two games for the Habs but is spelling backup Peter Budaj. Starter Carey Price, who played last night against Ottawa for the first time since the Olympics because of a lower-body injury, did not even make the trip as the team opted to keep him home. Clearly no concern of a Sabres offensive explosion.

And why should there be? Buffalo has scored five goals in losing its last five games -- and all of them have been by either Drew Stafford or Tyler Ennis.

"We have what we have," Nolan said. "In order to score goals in this league, I don't care if you're a seasoned veteran or a rookie, it all stems from how hard you want to crash the net and the price you want to pay to go in front of that net to screen, rebound, fight for that. We're almost there but almost doesn't count. You've got to pay a certain price to score some goals."

The Sabres don't have much offense and they're still looking to fill the huge leadership void left by the trade of captain Steve Ott to St. Louis.

"When you lose your leadership, it takes a little while for it to come back," Nolan said. "Steve Ott was a big leader in that room. I noticed that the first day I got here. And all of a sudden he's gone. So we're waiting for certain guys to emerge as the next leaders. and it's tough. But they've got to find a way."

Nolan said Tyler Myers  (arm) will be out tonight and remains day to day, although the team is hopeful he'll go on the Western swing. Torey Mitchell skated well on his own today and Nolan said he could play Tuesday in Calgary.

Click below to hear Nolan's entire meeting with reporters.

Ted Nolan

Neuvirth's 54-shot night made him the fifth-busiest Sabres goalie ever

By John Vogl

Michal Neuvirth accurately summed up his last game.

"They just kept coming and coming," the Sabres goaltender said.

Indeed, Carolina tested him 54 times Thursday night during a 4-2 victory over the Sabres. Neuvirth took the loss despite stopping 51 shots, a career high and the most for Buffalo since Dominik Hasek turned aside 55 on March 1, 1996.

Neuvirth's night, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, tied for the fifth-busiest regular-season game in Sabres history. Here's the list:

Name    Shots    Saves    Date    Opponent

Joe Daley    72    64    Dec. 10, 1970    Boston, 8-2 loss

Dominik Hasek    58    55    March 1, 1996    Rangers, 3-3 tie

Joe Daley    56    51    March 21, 1971    Boston, 7-5 win

Roger Crozier    55    50    Feb. 12, 1972    Boston, 5-1 loss

Michal Neuvirth    54    51    March 13, 2104    Carolina, 4-2 loss

Clint Malarchuk    54    50    Dec. 29, 1990    New Jersey, 4-4 tie

Dave Dryden    54    45    Oct. 16, 1971    Montreal, 9-3 loss

Joe Daley    54    43    Nov. 7, 1970    Montreal, 11-2 loss

Gameday audio: Mitchell, Neuvirth ready for new challenge

Torrey
Torrey Mitchell

By Mike Harrington

TAMPA, Fla. -- The two newest Buffalo Sabres did not make it in time for the team's pregame skate today in the Tampa Bay Times Forum but Torey Mitchell and Michal Neuvirth are in town and ready to join their new team.

Mitchell will play in tonight's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning while Neuvirth will make his Buffalo debut as the starting goaltender tomorrow against the Florida Panthers. Neuvirth donned his Washington Capitals gear for a brief on-ice session with goaltending coach Jim Corsi while Mitchell did not skate.

 "It' s a quick turnaround and you get to jump into a game right away," said Mitchell, acquired from Minnesota for Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick. "Guys who get traded say that's the best thing."

Mitchell, 29, played collegiately at Vermont and grew up in Montreal, so he said he's excited to move to an Eastern Conference team. He played with Zenon Konopka with the Wild, with Christian Ehrhoff with San Jose and said ex-Sabre Mike Grier was one of his main mentors in his rookie year with the Sharks in 2007-08.

"I have a little experience, feel like I'm a good character guy to provide energy," Mitchell said. "I feel I can help in trhe process here and I"m excited for that role to come in and try to be a leader, create good energy and be a positive guy."

Michal
Michal Neuvirth

Neuvirth said he's been unhappy with his play this season in Washington (4-6-2, 2.82, .914) but was excited to come to Buffalo. As a native of the Czech Republic, he idolized Dominik Hasek.

"He was a hero for me. Same country," Neuvirth said. "All the games I watched were the Buffalo games because of him. He's a legend back home. ... I was excited for the newest opportunity. It's a young team here but hopefully we can grow as a team.

As for the Sabres as a whole, coach Ted Nolan said Konopka will be tonight's lone scratch. There was no line work done at practice as Nolan said he'll be studying where to use Mitchell. Ville Leino is expected to initially join Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford in Moulson's spot.

Nolan is thrilled the trade deadline is over and he can now coach a set team.

"If you look at the majority of the teams, they've got one guy they're thinking about moving," Nolan said. We had almost half our team in the trade mill and we didn't really know until yesterday. There were  a lot of anxious moments. One of the guys was telling me one of the guys hands were shaking at lunch time. Guys are human too."

Click below to hear audio from Nolan, Mitchell and Neuvirth.

Ted Nolan

Torrey Mitchell

Michal Neuvirth

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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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