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Lindy meets the media

During his postgame news conference, Lindy Ruff gives it up to (of course) Ryan Miller, Rob Niedermayer and the grittiness of his team following the 1-0 win over the Flyers. 

Click below to listen.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 


Lindy Ruff

Laughing with Lindy and getting little info

PHILADELPHIA -- It's that time of year when talking to Lindy Ruff evokes international intrigue and sometimes requires a linguistics degree. Every word Ruff utters is measured and you better ask exactly what you mean to get an answer. And even then, you probably won't get a straight answer.

Ruff's pregame meeting with the media today was pretty comical. He answered a couple cursory questions about Dennis Persson's recall, so then I asked him if the presence of Persson means Andrej Sekera simply isn't getting any better. The conversation then went like this as everyone around us laughed. And hey, Ruff and I had a chuckle too. We all know the deal once the playoffs start.

Ruff: Who said Andrej wasn't better? 
Me: Is he better?
Ruff: Andrej's better.
Me:  So is Andrej out or in?
Me: I'm not telling you. He's just better. 

Ruff did reveal that Shaone Morrisonn is in fact out but Ruff said he's day to day. So we'll have to watch the warmup to see about Sekera-Persson. Bucky Gleason and John Vogl will be live chatting at 4:30 and we'll have the latest.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Lindy on giving up short-handed goals: 'I'm not going to coach the game scared'

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- With no morning skate today, Lindy Ruff just held his pregame session with the media upon his team's arrival at the XCel Energy Center for tonight's matchup against the Minnesota Wild. On the injury front, Ruff said Jochen Hecht and Mike Grier were both day to day and Grier was feeling better today. So that's a good sign.

In the wake of yesterday's win in Philadelphia, I asked Ruff about his club's continued penchant for giving up short-handed goals and what adjustments the Sabres might make. Frankly, I'm of the ilk to scrap four-forward alignments, especially with Tim Connolly at the point, and spend more time just using two defensemen back there.

The Sabres have scored only two shorties and have given up an NHL-high 12, with Kimmo Timonen's goal yesterday coming after Ruff called a timeout hoping his power play would produce a 4-2 lead. But they're plus-11 on the season in all other goal situations. Ruff would have none of my thought of going a little more defensive at times as the season winds down.

"I'm not going to coach the game scared if we get scored against because we're trying to score goals in key situations," he said. "The appropriate measure in yesterday's game was to try to make sure we get the fourth goal. If we change our power play unit, all it does is send a message that we don't want to score and we're going to take a safer approach. I don't think we're at that place at this time of the season."

Hard to argue with that. Ruff wants to go for it. I really liked the answer. It was a defiant, push-forward attitude reflective of how this team has played lately.

A point today finally puts Buffalo into eighth place. The Sabres are 4-0-2 in their last six overall and 7-1-1 in their last nine on the road. Going back even more, they're 17-7-4 since Dec. 28 and 28-16-6 since Nov. 5.

I guess he can say who am I to argue, right? We'll see.

Stay tuned for today's live blog.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Audio: Terry Pegula meets The News' Editorial Board

Sabres owner Terry Pegula and team President Ted Black met with editors, reporters and other Buffalo News staffers for an editorial board meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 23.

Listen to the full meeting here (42m49s):

Here's a part of the discussion about head coach Lindy Ruff and general manager Darcy Regier (7m55s):

The conversation included questions about Pegula's wealth and what it means for the team (11m10s):

Here's Pegula talking about what made him make the move to buy the Sabres (1m54s):

Those participating in the meeting included News President Warren T. Colville, Editor and Vice President Margaret Sullivan, Assistant Managing Editor Elizabeth Kahn, Sports Editor Steve Jones, Deputy Editorial Page Editor Kevin Walter, editorial writer Dawn Bracely and the sports department's Jerry Sullivan, Bucky Gleason, Mike Harrington and John Vogl.

News reporter and columnist Denise Jewell Gee recorded audio and video at the meeting.

Ruff turned down Sabres' offer of extension

In the wake of today's news that GM Darcy Regier received a two-year contract extension in the fall, it was natural to ask Lindy Ruff if he received the same treatment.

Ruff pulled a shocker after Tuesday's practice in HSBC Arena when he revealed he also got an extension offer and turned it down. Understandably, Ruff wasn't all that interested in the line of questioning so his answers were pretty cryptic when pressed by The News on the issue. Here's the entire conversation I had with the coach after practice.

In the wake of today's news regarding Darcy, did you get a contract extension in the fall?

"I did not, no."

Were you offered one?

"Yes I was."

Did you reject it?

"It's a situation that really I'd rather not talk about. It's nothing to do ... They were gracious in what they offered me."

So your contract goes through this season, correct?

"Correct."

Do you want to stay?

"Yeah, I want to stay."

Have you told Terry Pegula you want to stay?

"No. We had a conversation about hockey and that's as far as I'll go."

Hmmmm. Pretty interesting week so far here at One Seymour H. Knox Plaza.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Inside the NHL -- Live Chat

Lindy's first chat of the season with the media

Stay tuned for more audio and video from the first day of Sabres rookie camp.

In the interim, here's the audio from Lindy Ruff's first press conference of the season, featuring discussions about Tyler Ennis and the Tim Kennedy situation. (excuse the first few seconds of interference as the cameras get set up).

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Larry-Darcy-Lindy Show coming Thursday

The Sabres have called an end-of-season press conference featuring Larry Quinn, Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff for Thursday morning in HSBC Arena. You may remember they never had such a session last year after their second straight playoff miss and they were roundly criticized for it. Lesson learned. Maybe a playoff berth has them a tad less skittish about music-facing.

Anyway....

Lots of interesting chatter on Twitter this evening about the line of questioning Tim Connolly faced in the locker room today in the wake of his playoff no-show (Remember not to shoot the messengers, folks). So the comments section is open here now: We'll certainly have our list of questions but what's the three-star list of inquiries you'd have for this trio?

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Sabres expected Chara's ban to be lifted

No great protests from Lindy Ruff today about Zdeno Chara's Game Six suspension being lifted by the NHL. The Sabres coach seemed disappointed but said he knew about the ruling early this morning.

"I said last night you run the risk of being suspended,' Ruff said today in HSBC  Arena. "The league's interpretation is what it is. I was arguing for the instigator. That's why I stayed on the bench. I had Rivs [Craig Rivet] go over and say, 'That's an instigator.'

"It really doesn't matter what I think. It really doesn't. I don't think that little slash [from Paul Gaustad] hurt him though. An instigator is an instigator. The referees deemed he was the instigator. I can find lots of little slashes in the game if you want me to find that."

Asked if Chara was getting kid-gloves star treatment,  Ruff said, "I've heard that argument before and I'm not even going to go down that road."

The Sabres were off today. Ruff said Thomas Vanek was skating with a couple players and the team's callups at the Amherst Center while the Sabres conducting their press conferences downtown. Vanek will go through "battle drills" to see if there's any way he can play Monday.

"We'll get a pretty good  idea of where he's at," Ruff said. "You run the risk when you get him involved physically, that you can set him back. I hope today is a good day and he gets through it and we can ramp up the type of practice that  he can go through."

Rivet said he also expected Chara's suspension to be pushed  aside by the league.

"I'm not really surprised," Rivet said. "It's something I expect at this time of year. I think the action would have to be a lot worse to get a suspension. He was a little bit frustrated at the end of the game but I don't think it was really cause for a suspension."

Audio from today:

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff:

Sabres captain Craig Rivet:

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Sobotka has no message for Lindy

Marc Savard is back skating with the Bruins but his return is not imminent. A major outgrowth of his injury, however, has been increased playing time for Vladimir Sobotka, a 5-foot-10 pepperpot of energy who has emerged as one of the surprising players in the series.

Sobotka is clearly under the Sabres' skin. Lindy Ruff even took a shot at him yesterday when he said, "You've got that little Sobotka who's ducking now, doesn't want to get hit by [Tyler] Ennis."

So Sobotka got plenty of attention in the Bruins' locker room today after the pregame skate. He said he hadn't heard about Ruff's comment but he wasn't too happy when it was relayed to him either. What would his message be to Ruff?

"I've got nothing to say to him," Sobotka said. "Just on the ice.  I'll show you on the ice."

Sobotka has shown plenty in this series with 23 hits in the last three games, a key assist on Dennis Wideman's goal in Game Three and his first  NHL fight (with Andrej Sekera).

He spent the bulk of last season at Providence, and this year had just 10 points and was minus-7 in 61 games. 

"It comes with more ice time and more confidence," Sobotka said. "I have trust of my coach on the ice. I have more confidence to make plays and get better."

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Torres: 'I wouldn't play me either'

With his team facing elimination, Lindy Ruff has decided to scratch Raffi Torres and insert Nathan Gerbe in the lineup for Game Five tonight against Boston. Ruff admitted it was a tough decision to bench a player the team had acquired at the trade deadline. He said there are players he's even more unhappy with at this point. But Torres hasn't scored a goal since coming to Buffalo and these are desperate times.

Even Torres, who skated with Thomas Vanek and Matt Ellis at the morning skate, admitted as much.

"There's really not much to be said," Torres said. "I'm not scoring. I'm not doing what I've got to do to stay in the lineup. I wouldn't play me, either. What can you do?"

Of course, it's not as if Torres is the only Sabres struggling to put the puck in the net. No player has more than one goal in the four games against Boston. Torres is tied for the team scoring lead with two points. But the Sabres brought him to Buffalo because he could score tough goals and had a track record in the postseason. Torres said he wasn't going to get into the production of other players. He did have good things to say about Gerbe.

"Gerbe has played well. I would have given him a shot a lot sooner," Torres said. "What are you going to do? I'm just really disappointed in myself. But hopefully they get a win and keep going and I find a way to get back in there."

Torres isn't likely to get back on the ice if the Sabres extend the series. Ruff plays the guys who have earned his trust, and he seemed to give up on Torres quickly when he came to the team. He questioned Torres' conditioning and didn't give him much chance on his top lines.

"I'm not going to get into that," Torres said. "I'm not going to get in a war in the media. At the end of the day, I didn't come here and do what I was brought here to do. So I'm not going to sit here and complain about who I played with. That's irrelevant. It's not a big deal to me. I've scored on fourth lines. I"ve scored on second lines. At the end of the day, the numbers weren't there. Like I said, I wouldn't play me, either. I'm not doing my job out there. You've got to give a kid a chance, you know?"

--- Jerry Sullivan

Hear from Vanek and Lindy

Thomas Vanek speaks to the media about his injury and Lindy Ruff talks about Vanek and a whole lot of other topics heading into Game Three:

Vanek:


Ruff:

Vanek doubtful for Monday but will return in series

McCoy Sabres Sports_003 Thomas Vanek and Lindy Ruff reached the same conclusion Sunday after the Sabres' optional workout: Vanek will likely play again in this series against the Boston Bruins although it's highly doubtful the star winger plays in Game Three Monday night in Boston, as he was walking with a pronounced limp in his left foot.

But testing showed Vanek has no broken bones and no major damage. The Sabres are classifying it as a lower-body injury, but you and I can likely call it a severe ankle sprain. Vanek did travel with the team to Boston.

"I'm sore obviously from what happened there," Vanek said of his crash into the boards after getting slashed by Boston's Johnny Boychuk. "Overall, it could be worse. It sucks but it's better than it could be. Nothing is broken."

"When a player comes off like that, you obviously think the worst," Ruff said. "That was my initial thoughts. But then after the game, finding out he had been looked at, I was pleasantly suprised the damage isn't severe."

Vanek hasn't ruled out playing Monday night but that appears to be a major stretch.

"This morning I expected to be sore, which I am and I'll just see how it feels tomorrow," he said. "I'm hoping to play. ... I'm still hoping for tomorrow even though I know deep-down it's a stretch. I would say Wednesday then. If it's not Wednesday then, I don't know. Maybe the next game. But the good part is that I feel like and we feel like I'll be back for the series."

Ruff said Drew Stafford was undergoing more testing later Sunday and would not fly to Boston with the team. But if Stafford clears those tests, he could play in Vanek's place Monday. If Stafford is not ready, Ruff said a recall would be made from Portland.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Ruff offers little on Vanek

Predictably, there was little news from the Sabres about Thomas Vanek's status after Saturday's game other than the standard issue playoff-time "lower-body" injury. But Lindy Ruff was clearly not happy with what he referred to as a "two-hander" by Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk.

Ruff did say, "I would anticipate him going to Boston," although that doesn't necessarily mean tomorrow on the team flight. And most important, that doesn't give any indication if Vanek is going to be playing anytime soon.

No question the injury deflated both the team and the HSBC Arena crowd.

"Sometimes  when your key player goes down like that, there's a little bit of a letdown,' Ruff said. "You can't really explain it. That line (Vanek-Derek Roy-Tim Kennedy) was going pretty good for us. Thomas was going good. You're obviously disappointed."

The first thought to replace Vanek would be Drew Stafford, but Ruff may have thrown water on that theory when he pointed out Stafford has yet to be cleared for contact after suffering his concussion in Ottawa last Saturday.

The only other viable option appears to summon Nathan Gerbe back from Portland, where he was sent yesterday.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)


Mancari loaned to Portland

DETROIT -- A few Sabres are on hand for an optional skate at Joe Lous Arena and I've just been informed that winger Mark Mancari has been loaned back to Portland. Certainly not a reflection of Mancari's play, which has been pretty good this week.

Post-practice update: Gaustad will be back tonight. Mancari was on emergency recall when Drew Stafford was injured and had to be returned when Gaustad was available. Mancari had a goal and an assist in his three games. No way to tell who skates in Mancari's place with Roy and Vanek since few players were on hand.

Said Lindy Ruff: "I thought Mark played well for us, probably his best trip up with us so far."

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Mancari gets prime spot

NEW YORK  -- Mark Mancari skated with the Sabres today in Madison Square Garden after his callup Saturday from Portland and the big winger will have a prime spot on a line against the Rangers tonight with Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy. Also look for him on the power play.

"That's all very exciting," said Mancari, who will wear No. 12. "Those two guys are unbelievable players and I'm really excited to get that chance. Hopefully I can do well with it. I'm really happy to be here and then on top of that for Lindy [coach Lindy Ruff] to show enough confidence to try me there and on the power play. It's something that's very exciting and hopefully I can do well."

This is Mancari's second game of the season with Buffalo and the first was also at MSG, as he got a day-of-game callup for a cameo here on Dec. 12. He flew to Hartford that day and took a limo, arriving in New York about four hours before faceoff.

"That was a little strange," he said. "This time I didn't have to drive here the day of the game. I got here last night. That game, I played a little conservative I think, with the drive, learning they needed me the day of. Just a lot of mental games in my head. I didn't want to make too many mistakes. I felt I did OK, played a good defensive game but maybe I needed to be more offensive. Today I got to go all out, create opportunities and create space for Vanek and Roy and pick up rebounds."

Mancari leads Portland in goals (22) and points (62) and has a plus-14 rating, second only to defenseman Mike Weber's plus-18. 

In addition to Vanek-Roy-Mancari, the latest edition of the Lindy Shuffle this morning was Hecht-Connolly-Pominville, Torres-Mair-Grier and Ellis-Kennedy-Kaleta. Chris Butler will once again be a healthy scratch on defense. Paul Gaustad was on the ice for the second straight day but is not taking part in drills.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Morning skate report: Butler on the outs?

Not much to report from HSBC Arena this morning as the Sabres went through an optional morning skate. Expect the forward lines to be the same as were unveiled in practice on Thursday. Meanwhile, a cryptic Lindy Ruff wouldn't say what he's going to do with his defense pairings although Chris Butler was minus-2 Wednesday against Washington and is a team-worst minus-12. Steve Montador played wing Wednesday and could move back to the blueline now that Raffi Torres is in the lineup, which might push Butler to the press box.

Said Ruff on Butler: "I think his numbers speak for themselves. I think he can play better."

It will be interesting, of course, to see how Torres plays with Derek Roy and Jason Pominville. And Ruff has plenty of hope for the line of Tim Kennedy, Jochen Hecht and Mike Grier, which was a solid two-way unit for the first 20 or so games this season.

"We had some chemistry the first half of the season," Kennedy said today. "Maybe it takes a few shifts in the game but we were together again all day in practice so that really helped. Those guys helped me a ton at the start of the season. I'm not going to say my first games in this league were easy but with those two guys, they know what they're doing.

"They've played in this league for a while and do their jobs. I didn't have much to worry about because I knew they would be taking care of so much and I could just worry about the first few things I had to.

Ryan Miller will be in goal against upstart Flyers netminder Michael Leighton, who is 13-3-1 with a 2.18 GAA and .926 save percentage since being claimed off waivers Dec. 15 from Carolina. He's now reunited with former Canes coach Peter Laviolette and is the Flyers' hope between the pipes the rest of the way with Ray Emery sidelined by hip surgery and no trade made for, say, Dwayne Roloson at the deadline.

The Flyers enter tonight's game in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 69 points, six behind the Sabres. They've split two games after the Olympic break, posting a 7-2 win Tuesday in Tampa Bay and a 7-4 loss Wednesday in Florida. They won their final four games before the break.

Jeff Carter, who nearly played for Team Canada in the Olympics until Ryan Getzlaf's ankle was deemed healthy, leads the team in scoring with 29 goals and 55 points. Ex-Sabre Daniel Briere has 22 goals and 19 assists.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Lindy's back in charge

What's that old saying? While the cat's away, the mice will play? That's kind of how Lindy Ruff seems to feel about his team's practice ethic while he was gone at the Olympics. Ruff cracked the whip today in HSBC Arena, barking for much of the 50 minutes for his players to be more vocal on the ice.

"Part of our play in the first 30 games stemmed from puck support, knowing where people are at, hearing another guy's voice, leaving the zone under control and being a five-man unit coming out of the zone," Ruff said. "Watching [Wednesday's 3-1 loss to the Capitals] again this morning, I would swear that have the team had muzzles on. That makes it tough. When you're under pressure, the only thing you can trust is somebody's voice and the fact he has to be in a certain place for us."

The Sabres have opened the post-Olympic break schedule with back-to-back losses and Ruff wants things turned around by Friday night's visit from Philadelphia.

"It's been two weeks off," he said. "I've been gone for 10 days of practice. And I don't care what you say. When the substitute teacher is there when you were a kid, you goofed off. We had four or five players missing. Now it's back to focus and determination to play the system and play it hard."

Click below to hear Ruff's complete session with the media, including his comments on Raffi Torres' first day with the team:

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Ryan and Ruff have their say

You don't expect Ryan Miller or Lindy Ruff to mince many words and they didn't again Wednesday night following a mostly dreadful 3-1 loss to the Capitals.

Miller says he senses a crisis of confidence within the Sabres' system. Ruff seemed to indicate the same thing among the team's forwards and said he may blow the whole thing up and start his lines fresh Thursday in practice when Raffi Torres is expected to arrive from Columbus.

Hear the goalie and the coach making their sharp comments to the media about the game and the Torres trade at the links below. 

Ryan Miller

Lindy Ruff


---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

USA-Canada postgame chat

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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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