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.
December 9, 2011 - 3:00 PM
The Florida Panthers have a seven-point lead in the Southeast Division and get this: They will take over first place in the Eastern Conference if they beat the Sabres tonight. Florida hasn't held that spot since it was 28-15-13 on Feb. 12, 1997 -- when Lindy Ruff was a Panthers assistant and the franchise was nine months removed from its lone trip to the Stanley Cup final.
The Panthers posted a 2-0 win last night in Boston, are gunning for their first four-game winning streak since 2007 tonight and their first back-to-back wins ever in Buffalo (they posted a 3-2 victory here on Oct. 29). They figured to be improved with so many new faces, but first in the East?
"We've really made an effort to downplay it," said first-year coach Kevin Dineen, who directed the Sabres' minor leaguers in Portland the last three years. "It's one game and then somebody plays tomorrow night and they fip-flop back over you. We had a win last night that we probably were thoroughly outplayed and were fortunate to walk out of Boston with two points.
"The margin of first overall or a playoff spot is just so low you don't sweat those areas. We know we'll have our hands full. We played a game in Los Angeles last week where I thought we thoroughly outplayed Los Angeles in every aspect of the game (outshooting the Kings, 42-26, in a 3-1 loss) and didn't get a point so it has that kind of give-and-take and I think the standings are the same way."
Still, this is a franchise that hasn't played a playoff series since 2000 and has won exactly one postseason game since getting swept in the '96 final by Colorado. So this is heady stuff.
Admitted Dineen, "It's really nice waking up your team is in a playoff spot and has a certain level of respect, but things are very fleeting."
This is a tough stretch for a team that always has rugged travel. Florida is on game seven of a run that has seven out of eight on the road. The Panthers have gone 4-2 so far.
Watch the Florida defense tonight. Panthers blueliners have an NHL-high 74 points (15-59-74), with Jason Garrison's eight goals leading the NHL and one more than he had in 113 games heading into this season and former Sabre Brian Campbell tied for fourth in the NHL with 22 assists.
December 8, 2011 - 10:05 PM
The NHL ruling has just come down -- Ville Leino gets a one-game suspension for his elbow on Philly's Matt Read and will thus miss Friday's game against Florida and be out $24,324.32. Seems fair enough, although let's remember that Jordin Tootoo only got two games for bullrushing through Ryan Miller last week.
But that's NHL justice for you. Here's Brendan Shanahan's explanation.
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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, 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.
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.
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