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Pens/Team USA coach Bylsma: 'I'm a Miller family fan'

By Mike Harrington

Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma met the media this afternoon at First Niagara Center just like he always would after any gameday skate. But the conversation was far from a normal one. Tonight's Penguins-Sabres game? Pffft to that. It was almost all Olympics and Ryan Miller chatter.

Bylsma and Co. have a wickedly tough decision to make in goal for Team USA next week in Sochi: Do they go with Miller, the hero of the Vancouver Games, or ride Los Angeles Jonathan Quick, less than two years removed from a Stanley Cup?

Bylsma had a good chuckle today when asked if Miller's body of work from Vancouver might have to tip the scales in his favor. Because he got peppered with similar questions about Quick when the Penguins were in Los Angeles just six days ago.

"I've been asked it a lot of different ways. I was asked it a little bit differently in LA," said a smiling Bylsma. "There's no question that Ryan Miller by all accounts was the best player maybe in the tournament in Vancouver. ... I'm a Miller family fan. I grew up in Michigan so it's not just Ryan that's a face or a name in USA and American hockey. And Ryan has certainly been that. He's had more than one USA mask on his face and he certainly was that in 2010, no question."

Continue reading "Pens/Team USA coach Bylsma: 'I'm a Miller family fan'" »

Nolan makes his first trip to The House That Mario Built

The 1985-86 Penguins, with Ted Nolan the second player from the left on the top row and a 19-year-old Mario Lemieux dead center in row 2 (

By Mike Harrington

PITTSBURGH -- Ted Nolan's big claim to fame from his playing days is that he played with both Wayne Gretzky (on the 1977-78 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) and Mario Lemieux (on the 1985-86 Pittsburgh Penguins).

Tonight is Nolan's first game as a coach inside the Consol Energy Center, as his last appearance with the New York Islanders came when the Penguins played inside Mellon Arena. The old Igloo is now a parking lot across the street from the new building. 

The Consol Center is widely referred to as "The House that Mario Built". There's a statue of Lemieux in front, a giant mural of him in the concourse, his No. 66 hangs from the rafters and there's a Suite 66 at ice level with several pieces of memorabilia from his career.

"I remember a lot," a smiling Nolan said today when asked his memories of Lemieux. "I remember sitting down next to Mario and they had a poster night. I asked him to sign it and he asked for who and I said, 'to me.' I still got it at home. It's 'To Teddy.' That's it. When you have a chance to play with him and watch him in practice. .... I spread that story around quite a bit."

To end home futility, history provides fighting chance vs. Kings

By Mike Harrington

When I wrote today's Sabres story on their struggles in First Niagara Center, I didn't know the startling fact that I updated the Web version with early this morning: A loss tonight against the Los Angeles Kings makes the Sabres the second team in NHL history to go winless at home in their first 10 games of a season. Jeez. 

The Sabres are currently 0-8-1 and the record for worst NHL start at home was set by the 1983-84 Pittsburgh Penguins, who went 0-9-2 (that's two ties) at then-Civic Arena. They finally won a game on Nov. 23, 1983 at the Igloo by beating New Jersey, 4-1.

That Pittsburgh team finished 16-58-6 and their 38 points was last overall in the NHL. It's widely believed the club tanked its season to get the No. 1 overall pick in the 1984 draft -- which it turned into Mario Lemieux. Hmmm. Sounds like a familiar strategy, even though there's no Lemieux in the offing at next June's league meeting in Philadelphia.

Continue reading "To end home futility, history provides fighting chance vs. Kings" »

Live from Consol Energy Center: Sabres at Penguins

Sabres stick to CBA-mandated schedule, take today off

By John Vogl

 Along with students, teachers and bank tellers, the Sabres are taking Presidents' Day off.

The collective bargaining agreement mandates teams give their players four days off for every full calendar month, and the Sabres had scheduled today for a respite. Despite a bitter afternoon loss to the Pittsburgh, they're sticking with the plan.

Continue reading "Sabres stick to CBA-mandated schedule, take today off" »

Video: Postgame reaction to Sabres loss to Penguins

Morning numbers for today's matinee vs. the Flying Crosbys

Sidney Crosby has a point in all 12 of his career games in First Niagara Center. (AP Photo)

By Mike Harrington

Greetings from high atop First Niagara Center as we get set for today's Sabres-Penguins matinee. It's a 12:30 faceoff on NBC. Will the Sabres parlay any momentum from Friday night's third period against the Bruins? Will the Penguins continue to dominate on the road, where they lead the East with seven wins? Those are my two quick questions this morning. 

Be sure to join me in a new thread on the Edge at 12:30 for our live game blog -- and have your questions and comments ready in the second intermission for another Sabres FlashChat. 

Today's game is the opener of Hockey Day in America and will be followed at 3:30 by the Kings at the Blackhawks on NBC and the Capitals at the Rangers at 6 on the NBC Sports Network.

Gord Miller, the TSN veteran renowned for his work on on the World Junior Championships, will be doing today's play-by-play and former NHL defenseman and longtime MSG analyst Joe Micheletti will be the inside-the-glass man. Rick Jeanneret and Rob Ray will be doing radio only today on WGR.

Some quick numbers to ponder:

Vs. Pittsburgh: The Sabres are just 2-8-0 in their last 10 against the Pens. 

Power play: The Penguins are third overall (27.6 percent) and are fourth on the road (28.6) but lead the NHL with 10 road power-play goals. The Sabres are 26th overall (12.7) but are ninth at home (24.0) and 29th on the road (1-30, 3.3. Yikes).

Continue reading "Morning numbers for today's matinee vs. the Flying Crosbys" »

Penguins hoping to keep Vanek cool for Sabres

By John Vogl

Thomas Vanek leads the NHL in goals and points. The Penguins have noticed.

"Vanek has started off extremely hot, and it’s not something new," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said following practice this afternoon in First Niagara Center. "He’s a dangerous player. He’s a skilled player. He can make plays, score goals. He’s a guy who doesn’t have a reputation for doing it on the inside, but he’s good at the net. He’s good in tight spaces. He goes to the net, gets a shot off, does it on the power play.

"He’s a dangerous guy you’re going to have to watch."

Continue reading "Penguins hoping to keep Vanek cool for Sabres" »

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 |

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 |

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 |