February 15, 2012 - 5:47 PM
The Sabres began a stretch of four games in six nights with Tuesday's loss to the Devils.
Thursday's game against the Flyers starts a run of three games in four days, including a 12:30 p.m. start Sunday against the Penguins in First Niagara Center.
That means Ryan Miller is due for a rest soon. The Sabres' goalie has started 10 straight games.
"It’ll be a conversation I’ll have with Ryan today," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said after practice in First Niagara Center. "But I think if you look at four in less than six [days] and an afternoon game in there with three in less than four [days], Jhonas [Enroth] is probably going to have to play one of these two [either Thursday in Philadelphia or Friday at home against Montreal]."
The complete audio of Ruff's interview is below.
February 15, 2012 - 2:38 PM
The Sabres practiced today in First Niagara Center before leaving for Philadelphia to face the Flyers tomorrow night.
Forward Brad Boyes and defenseman Robyn Regehr were not on the ice, with coach Lindy Ruff saying both got "maintenance days" and should be ready to play Thursday.
Regehr was a little banged up after blocking a couple shots in Tuesday's 4-1 loss to the Devils.
The line combinations were:
Matt Ellis was centering a fourth line with Zack Kassian.
Spoiler alert: Read more about Ville Leino and his return to Philadelphia in Thursday's Buffalo News.
February 15, 2012 - 2:10 PM
The news sounded grim, even frightening, when delivered by Sabres coach Lindy Ruff on Jan. 24.
Veteran forward Jochen Hecht had suffered another concussion -- his second of the season and third in less than a year -- one that left him "really unstable."
Ruff described Hecht as "a mess," said he "couldn't focus" and that the team was worried about him.
"He's in a tough place right now," the coach said.
So the sight of Hecht smiling after a workout today was a welcome one for the team.
"I feel good," Hecht said in his first meeting with reporters since being hurt. "I rode the bike the last couple days. Now I’m at that point where I can start working out again and pump the intensity up slowly."
That's a point Ruff wasn't sure would come this season, or maybe ever.
"I really felt he was in a bad place when we left Jersey, that he may not bounce back from this one. But it seems with some of the treatment he's had that he's on the right track to coming back and skating again and may play."
Hecht had a non-surgical procedure done last week that he said involved the use of needles being placed in his back. It's worth noting that acupuncture has been used to treat post-concussion symptoms, although Hecht did not explicitly describe the procedure as that.
"It was pins and needles they put in the back, and medicine, and it took away some of those sensations I had," he said.
No timetable has been set for Hecht's return to the ice, but he's confident that will come this season.
"That’s why I’m working out and doing all the rehab again," he said, as sweat dripped from his forehead. "I still have to go through the bike rides where they monitor my heart rate and look that I’m symptom-free and I’m just going to go from there.
"It was a very tough day on me mentally, in New Jersey [when] I realized that all that came back again. I feel pretty upbeat now that I can go on the bike again, do some workouts, -- even though they’re light workouts -- do something and still feel good about myself and the rest of the day."
Hecht is in the final year of a contract that pays him $3.5 million this season. While there's no guarantee the 34-year-old German will be back with the Sabres, he's got a long life to live once he decides his playing days have come to an end.
That was certainly on his mind Wednesday as he talked about how happy he was to be free of symptoms.
"Even the long-term effects 20 years from now, it makes it a lot better that I don’t have scrambled eggs and I’ll still be able to spend time with the kids and do all that fun stuff," he said.
The audio from Hecht's interview is below.
February 8, 2012 - 11:45 AM
Lindy Ruff will not be behind the First Niagara Center bench tonight for the Buffalo Sabres for the first time since March 20, 2006, and James Patrick will be in charge as the Sabres meet the Boston Bruins.
Patrick will move from changing the defense pairs to changing the forward lines and Kevyn Adams, who has been on the bench all season, will change the defense. First-year assistant Teppo Numminen will move down from the press box to the bench for the first time since his playing career ended here in 2009.
Patrick said Ruff is "hoping to be here" but it's certainly up in the air if the head coach if will be in the building tonight. Patrick said he could be in the press box or could simply stay in the coaches' suite in the locker room area and watch the game on the big-screen TV.
Patrick said it a little unusual to be calling forward lines but will try to keep things business as usual.
"The helpful thing is there's a lot of veteran guys with Pommer [Jason Pominville] and Gaus [Paul Gaustad] and Derek Roy," Patrick said. "It's a pretty veteran lineup. And they communicate on the bench and I don't expect any problems.
"It is a new voice but at the same time, the game plan will be the same," Pominville said. "The systems will be the same. Not much is going to change besides the person speaking and talking to us in intermission. Our focus has to remain the same. No matter who's there, we have the trust and confidence in what they're capable of doing."
"It's the ebb and flows of hockey. You can't predict how you're going to play the game either," said defenseman Jordan Leopold, whose collision with Ruff Monday caused the coach's three broken ribs. "It's one of those things. We're plenty prepared either way. If Lindy were back there, great. If not, we'll make do and stick with our system. He's made sure everything is implemented. It's just a matter of us going out there and doing it."
Patrick had a brief on-ice meeting with the team at end of the morning skate and said his message was to continue to be hard on the puck as the club has been during its 3-0-1 run. He said his first foray as a head coach should be interesting, especially if he needs to make his case known to the referees.
"Usually Lindy has to tell me to stop yelling at the referees so I've had a lot of practice at that," Patrick said. "You get answers or get a little more respect whhen you're the head coach. Hopefully that's not an issue."
Thomas Vanek skated with the team today and Patrick said he's improving. Vanek confirmed he's hoping to play this weekend, either Friday against Dallas or Saturday against Tampa Bay.
Hear Patrick's session with reporters below:
January 31, 2012 - 12:42 PM
MONTREAL -- Tyler Ennis, who has been out since spraining his ankle a second time this season Dec. 17, will return to the Sabres tonight against Montreal.
Not only is he excited to be back, he's thrilled to be making a return to center. He played in the middle in juniors and the minors. With Jochen Hecht sidelined by a concussion, the Sabres needed someone to play center and are ready to try Ennis.
Paul Gaustad may also return from injury. He will skate in the warm-up and coach Lindy Ruff will make a game-time decision on the center's status.
Marc-Andre Gragnani will be the healthy scratch on defense.
To hear the interviews with Ruff and Ennis, click the audio files below.
January 25, 2012 - 11:39 AM
The Sabres are taking off from practice today, the last day they're allowed to work out prior to the NHL all-star break. They return to the ice Monday at First Niagara Center and have their next game Tuesday in Montreal, where they might be able to add Tyler Ennis and Paul Gaustad back to their lineup.
---Maybe pigs do fly because the Sabres won a road game with Tuesday's shootout win at New Jersey. Guess that means no trades and no firings? Oy. Still no back-to-back wins though with the next chance coming in Montreal. The Sabres are 10-19-5 since their last winning streak and the 34 games currently stands as the third-longest drought in franchise history -- behind only 40+-game lulls in their first two seasons. Ugh.
---Forget about trading Jochen Hecht for a pick at the deadline. Forget hockey altogether. It's time to worry about the veteran's health in general after he apparently got another concussion Saturday in St. Louis. For Lindy Ruff to say, "Emotionally, he was really unstable" after last night's game is nothing short of alarming.
---Bucky Gleason's column today talks back to the fans and answers some of their fury.
---There's only one game today and it's Detroit at Montreal at 7:30 on NBC Sports Network. The Habs, Islanders and Sabres are all tied at 45 points. If Montreal loses tonight in regulation, it would drop to 14th place while the Islanders would improve to 12th and Buffalo to 13th. The Sabres would stay in 14th if Montreal gets a point.
---This week's edition of "NHL 36" is tonight at 6:30 and it features 36 hours in the life of Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. His first day was last Monday, when the Sabres were in Detroit, and the cameras rolled pregame and during the contest. Might be an interesting watch.
---NHL.com has Jason Pominville pegged as Mr. Irrelevant in the all-star fantasy draft, as in the last guy chosen. At least he would get a car for his troubles. I loved the draft last year. It was better than the game.
---Jerry Sullivan offers this take on Tim Thomas' snub of the Bruins' White House visit. Good post, good reasoning but I don't agree. My feeling is Thomas should have been a teammate and gone. A fun argument for sure on both sides.
---Speaking of the All-Star Game, James Neal will replace Alex Ovechkin in Ottawa. Caps owner Ted Leonsis obviously did not agree with the Great Eight's suspension, as he wrote the other day on his blog. Boo to that, Ted. He jumped and contacted the head. Almost automatic these days. To me, it was a test case to see if Brendan Shanahan would give a Shanaban to a name player. He passed.
January 7, 2012 - 3:00 PM
First-year Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel played just seven NHL games with the 1979-80 Washington Capitals but had a long minor-league career before moving into coaching. His first professional stop: The 1975-76 Buffalo Norsemen (remember them?) of the old North American Hockey League.
The Norsemen played just one year and had a roster that featured former NHLers Guy Trottier and Steve Atkinson (who had played for the Sabres in the early years). They played at the Tonawanda Sports Center, which was then turned into a tennis facility. Noel, then a 20-year-old, was making $225 a week and loving life.
Aficionados of Buffalo sports history remember that the Norsemen's season ended when they forfeited Game Five of a playoff series in Johnstown, Pa., after the host Jets initiated a pregame brawl. It's a scene that was the basis for one of the memorable moments in the hockey classic "Slap Shot"
"I remember the ride back on the bus when I thought , 'This is gonna be a heck of a career if we've got to play in this league for five or six years,' " Noel said today. "I think it scared me to death enough to work out in the summer and hope I get an opportunity. I signed with the Buffalo Sabres (and played in the organization with the Hershey Bears) ... it scared the bejeezus out of me."
Click below to hear more of Noel's memories of his year in Tonawanda, including playing against the Hanson Brothers of Slap Shot fame, and the brawlers in Quebec known as the Beauce Jaros who led the NAHL that season.
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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.
About Sabres Edge
Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, is in his sixth season covering the Buffalo Sabres. 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.
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