Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Nolan frustrated by NHL ruling on Flyers' Rinaldo

By Mike Harrington

Chad Ruhwedel and Nathan Lieuwen are both home nursing their concussions suffered Sunday in Philadelphia and Ted Nolan is understandably upset. Flyers pest Zac Rinaldo got a four-game suspension for his head shot on Ruhwedel and the Sabres -- who have seen much harsher bans go to Patrick Kaleta and John Scott this season -- aren't happy.

"Those type of hits have got to be out of our game," Nolan said. "You're not talking injuries where you knock a guy out for a week or two weeks. It can knock his career right off the tracks. We all see what concussions do to some of our athletes after the fact. It's a very serious thing and I think we've got to take it a lot more serious than four games."

Doesn't appear to be the thought coming out of Philly, where GM Paul Holmgren called the suspension "harsh." Nolan scoffed at that comment.

"Unfortunately something serious has to happen before rules come into place," Nolan said. "You just knock on wood that it doesn't come to that. You're talking someone's head, where the brain be permanently damaged. You're not talking an elbow or finger or those type of things. I believe we have to take it a lot more serious."

The Sabres have been unhappy with NHL decisions all season, of course. And Nolan said he and GM Tim Murray have already discussed the organization's stance going forward.

"Tim mentioned something to me about three games ago and he said, 'Tell me everything because we're going to complain about everything,' " Nolan said. "He's probably made a number of calls already so I'm quite sure he's been vocal on this one."

Continue reading "Nolan frustrated by NHL ruling on Flyers' Rinaldo" »

Quick roster update: Surplus of forwards

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres have just taken the ice for their morning skate in advance of tonight's game against the Red Wings, and here's a quick rundown of the latest roster moves:

---Defenseman Mark Pysyk has been called up from Rochester and will dress tonight. Christian Ehrhoff is on the ice but his status is uncertain after getting his ear sliced for 40 stitches Sunday. John Scott is on defense this morning.

---Goaltender Andrey Makarov has been recalled and will back up Matt Hackett tonight before returning to play for the Amerks Friday. We'll have to find out what the Sabres' plans are for the weekend.

---Luke Adam has been returned to Rochester because Marcus Foligno, Chris Stewart and Torrey Mitchell are all expected to return tonight. It will be Stewart's home debut. His two previous games for Buffalo were on the road, at Dallas and Tampa Bay.  Drew Stafford is also skating today, but as an extra.

The lines are currently:

Foligno-Ennis-Stewart
Hodgson-Girgensons-Mitchell
Deslauriers-Larsson-D'Agostini
Flynn-Ellis-Conacher

The defense pairs are: McCabe-Pysyk, Ehrhoff-Ristolainen, McBain-Scott. The concussed Chad Ruhwedel is obviously not here. Mike Weber is not on the ice either but he continues to nurse a foot problem and has taken morning skates off. 

Stay tuned for more after practice.

Four forwards close to return but Nolan says Enroth, Neuvirth both likely done for year

By Mike Harrington

PHILADELPHIA -- The Sabres will continue to field a pretty thin lineup for tonight's game against the Flyers in Wells Fargo Center (reminder: 7:30 on NBCSN, not MSG). But Ted Nolan was optimistic after today's morning skate that could change in a big way as soon as Tuesday's visit by Detroit to First Niagara Center.

Marcus Foligno, Chris Stewart and Drew Stafford will all sit out again today but Foligno and Stewart skated fully. And even though Stafford did not take the ice, Nolan said there's a good chance all three could play against the Red Wings.

Seeing Foligno in particular was a shock. Nolan ruled him out for the season after the winger suffered what looked like  a serious knee injury Thursday in St. Louis.

"I was very shocked and quite surprised he was able to walk around yesterday," Nolan said. "So to see him on the ice is very encouraging news."

"It was pretty gross," Foligno said of the replay of him going to the ice. "If you had told me I was gonna be skating while I was falling, I would have told you I had no chance. It's felt pretty good. After coming off it was more of a stinger and bone bruise. No ACL, MCL, meniscus. I was able to keep icing it, days off and today back on the ice."

Nolan said forward Torrey Mitchell could return Tuesday, or Thursday in New York. So if the Sabres get some help up front, it could be a factor in their quest to avoid being the NHL's lowest-scoring team since expansion. And the return of all four players would mean Luke Adam, Johan Larsson and perhaps Nicolas Deslauriers can head to Rochester to help the Amerks' playoff quest, which got a big boost Saturday in Toronto.

So who IS up front tonight? The lines this morning looked like this:

Conacher-Ennis-Leino
Hodgson-Girgensons-D'Agostini
Adam-Larsson-Deslauriers
Scott-Flynn-Ellis.

As for other injured Sabres, Mike Weber is nursing a foot problem and didn't skate but will play tonight. Nolan also expects Tyler Myers to play this week. On the down side, the coach has pretty much ruled out the return of Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth this season.

"I don't see it unless there's another Marcus Foligno miracle happening with those two guys," Nolan said.

Nathan Lieuwen will get the start in goal tonight, while the Flyers will go with Steve Mason. Philly had an optional skate this morning after yesterday's 5-2 loss in Boston that dropped the Flyers to 1-4-2 in their last seven games.

Click below to hear today's sessions with the media by Nolan and Foligno:

Ted Nolan

Marcus Foligno

With Stafford banged up, Adam gets another call from Rochester

By Mike Harrington

TORONTO -- In the wake of injuries to Drew Stafford and Marcus Foligno, Ted Nolan hinted last night the Sabres would likely need a forward for tonight's game in Detroit and the call has been put out to Rochester for Luke Adam to join the club on an emergency recall.

(An aside: I'm in Toronto to cover tonight's Blue Jays-Yankees game. Amy Moritz is en route to Detroit for the Sabres game. The team's flight was delayed out of St. Louis last night due to the stormy weather and didn't get in until about 3 a.m. ET, so there was no morning skate today.  Nolan will update reporters during his pregame briefing in the 5 p.m. hour).

This is Adam's third recall of the season, with the most recent one being a one-game emergency stint March 7 in Florida. He is the Amerks’ top goal scorer with 27, and has 47 points in 53 AHL games. Adam has one goal in 10 games for Buffalo this year.

Foligno is expected to miss the final six games  of the season with the knee injury he suffered early in last night's game. Nolan said Stafford was "banged up" during Tuesday's shootout win over New Jersey so we'll see if Sunday's game in Philadelphia is realistic for his return.

Henrik Tallinder took the morning skate in St. Louis but left the ice after a few minutes with some sort of leg/groin problem. Chris Stewart was a surprise participant yesterday and you wonder how close he may be getting from his ankle problem.

While the Sabres keep struggling with injuries, the Red Wings are getting healthy. Ace playmaker Pavel Datsyuk returns tonight after missing 16 games with a knee injury. Based on their skate this morning, it looks like Daniel Alfredsson will be in the Detroit lineup as well tonight.

Jimmy Howard will be in goal against the Sabres' Matt Hackett.

So to help me get in baseball mode: "For those scoring at home", I present to you the Sabres' current injury list. 

F-Marcus Foligno (lower body)
F-Drew Stafford (undisclosed)
F-Chris Stewart (ankle)
F-Torrey Mitchell (undisclosed)
F-Zenon Konopka (back)
D-Henrik Tallinder (lower body)
D-Alexander Sulzer (upper body)
D-Tyler Myers (ribs/hip)
G-Michal Neuvirth (lower body)
G-Jhonas Enroth (lower body)

That's pretty incredible right there.

Numerology on tonight's visit by red-hot Lightning

By Mike Harrington

I'll resist the urge to give you 39 things about tonight's Sabres-Lightning game, which will be preceded by the Sabres Hall of Fame ceremony to induct Dominik Hasek.

---Former Ch. 7 legend Rick Azar will be at the Sabres Store from 5-7 p.m. signing copies of his new book, "Tales from Azar's Attic." The Hasek ceremony kicks off at 6:50. So for all of you constantly rushing the gates at 7 or maybe even strolling in at 7:15, get there early for once!

(I have no clue why we always have such late-arriving crowds in First Niagara Center. This isn't LA, folks. People like their pregame beers in other places too).

---The Lightning and Bruins are the only teams in the NHL to get points in each of their last 10 games. Tampa enters tonight 6-0-4 in the last 10 while the Sabres, of course, are 1-9 in the last 10. They have also dropped 10 of their last 11 since their 3-1 win over the Lightning on March 6 in the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Tampa's 10-game run is their most since an 18-game unbeaten streak in 2003-04.

---The Lightning have 37 goals in the last 10 games -- but have given up 32. In the last 11 games, the Sabres have been outscored, 34-12

---The Lightning appears pretty much locked into a first-round playoff matchup with Montreal, as the 2-3 teams in each division will meet under the new postseason format. Detroit and Toronto are both nine points back of Tampa Bay heading into their huge wild-card showdown tonight in Air Canada Centre.

Continue reading "Numerology on tonight's visit by red-hot Lightning" »

Leino still out, plus talk on contracts and Grigorenko

by Amy Moritz

Ville Leino showed up for today's morning skate. But once again he wasn't feeling well, didn't take the ice and went back to be evaluated by doctors. He won't play tonight against Tampa Bay.

Leino played just one full shift Thursday in Nashville before leaving the game with lightheaded symptoms. Could it be a concussion?

"He never got hit though," interim coach Ted Nolan said. "He just felt it before the game. He had one shift. He went out felt a little woozy. He felt a little dizzy and it wasn’t, don’t quote me 100 percent but I don’t think he got hit. He was just out one shift and came back.

"When you’re talking about the head, it’s not like the elbow or knee or something, but your head so we have to be very, very cautious."

Nolan again addressed his contract after some Canadian insiders reported that he had a done deal with Sabres general manager Tim Murray.

"One thing with those insiders they have a lot of information from somewhere I’m not too sure where they get it," Nolan said. "No, like I said last week Tim and I are real close on getting something done. As I mentioned all along I’m very excited about the possibility of staying here. Now it’s to a point where it’s really close and I'm going to be really excited when we get it officially done."

Mikhail Grigorenko finished his season of major junior with the Quebec Remparts. With the injuries in the organization, it looks like Grigorenko could continue his season, likely in Rochester.

"Tim and I will discuss that but my full concentration is trying to figure out who’s going to play for us right here with the injuries after injuries after injuries," Nolan said.

When asked if the injuries would create a spot for Grigorenko in Buffalo, Nolan added, "Rochester needs some players too."

For Nolan's full comments from the morning skate, take a listen here:

From ECHL to NHL: Lieuwen's last year a wild ride

By Mike Harrington

CALGARY, Alberta -- Nathan Lieuwen didn't speak to the media today at the Saddledome in advance of his first NHL start. The Sabres, like most NHL teams, make goalies off-limits on game days much like baseball teams do with starting pitchers.

But Lieuwen did speak at length about his career journey Monday in First Niagara Center and there are some interesting nuggets to share from that interview. 

Lieuwen's career was nearly derailed as a 16-year-old by concussions suffered in a rollover car accident in 2008. It was in doubt for a couple of years if he should keep playing.

"That definitely took my career sideways for a while and then started to get back on track when I was 19," Lieuwen said Monday. "That’s when I got drafted here to the Sabres (in the sixth round in 2011), and things have been up ever since. I’ve been lucky. A couple close calls, but I’ve been pretty healthy, which is good.

"It was tough. There was a couple times they questioned whether I should come back and play. I wouldn’t have it, and I’m glad that I said that."

(You can read more about Lieuwen's struggles and his faith in this Yahoo story advancing his start in the Memorial Cup for Kootenay in 2011.)

Continue reading "From ECHL to NHL: Lieuwen's last year a wild ride" »

It's Mil ... Lieuwen Time in Calgary

By Mike Harrington

CALGARY, Alberta -- When training camp started in September, you could make the case that Nathan Lieuwen was fifth on the Sabres' depth chart in goal. For tonight at least, he's No. 1. Lieuwen is starting for the Sabres against the Calgary Flames. 

"I just talked to him about how the progression beings and how it ends," said coach Ted Nolan, who had Lieuwen laughing during an on-ice chat during the pregame skate in the Saddledome. "You come from a real good junior background as a 17-year-old and all of sudden you're leadvng them as 19-year-old. Same thing at this level. You go down to the American League and come to this level. It's all part of progression."

Lieuwen did not speak to the media today as per team policy regarding goaltenders on game day. 

"His work ethic is incredible," said defenseman Chad Ruhwedel, who played in Rochester with Lieuwen. "He stays after to take extra shots, usually doesn't matter if he's starting or not. He's a really positive kid, to himself especially. Doesn't point the finger at everybody.  He's got raw skill but his work ethic got him where he is now."

Lieuwen played here in junior with Kootenay of the Western League against the Calgary Hitmen, so he's not dealing with a foreign rink for his first start.

"There's a lot to like about him. He's big and athletic," said Tyler Ennis. "We haven't seen much of him but what we've seen has been impressive. He's probably comfortable in this building, playing a few games against the Hitmen but it's a little different against the Flames. I'm sure that will be fun for him."

Matt Hackett will back up Lieuwen. Michal Neuvirth took the ice near the end of prctice and Nolan said he's doing better. He will be re-evaluated to see if he will play Thursday in Edmonton.

Torrey Mitchell returns to the lineup after taking a shot to the foot two weeks ago in Tampa. He'll be on a line with Matt D'Agostini nd Ville Leino. Zenon Konopka will be a scratch.

Click below to hear Nolan on Lieuwen, the lines and last June's Alberta flood that devastated the city and rink. Read more in Wednesday's paper..

Ted Nolan

 

Early notes from Calgary and awards for Sabres' second-rounders

By Mike Harrington

CALGARY, Alberta -- Good morning from the Candian Rockies, where the Sabres and Flames will meet tonight in the Saddledome for the first time since Dec. 27, 2010. The game is a 9 p.m. start Eastern time, so that means your "morning skate" reports will be later than normal.

The Flames take the ice at 10:30 local time (12:30 in Buffalo), while the Sabres go at 11:30 a.m. here and 1:30 p.m. back home. So keep it here and on Twitter (@BNHarrington) for the latest but don't forget you'll have to wait a little while longer to find out if tonight will be Nathan Lieuwen's first NHL start in goal.

This is Buffalo's first visit here since the devastating floods last June that ruined the Saddledome's service level and put water in the first 10 rows of the seating bowl. The building's core had to be gutted and replaced entirely but it was miraculously ready to go for the preseason. I had a good chat about it with Nashville broadcaster Terry Crisp, the coach of the '89 Stanley Cup champion Flames, when he was in Buffalo last week and it will be interesting to check out the building.

As for the game, the Sabres have lost six straight overall, scoring just five goals in the process nd ll of them by either Drew Stafford or Tyler Ennis. The last time they lost seven straight in regulation was in 2003 and keep this in mind: The Sabres have NEVER lost eight straight in regulation.

The Sabres are 7-21-3 on the road as they start a five-game, 10-day trip. Their seven wins are five fewer than any NHL team and their 17 road points are 10 fewer than anyone else (Florida is 12-20-3 for 27).

The Flames are tied for 26th overall with the New York Islanders with 61 points and it will be interesting to see how that battle impacts the Sabres' draft, with Buffalo potentially getting the Islanders' No. 1 pick this year. Calgary forward Matt Stajan, who scored the overtime winner in December when the Flames won in First Niagara Center, is expected to return to the lineup tonight after missing the last two weeks following the death of his newborn son.

Continue reading "Early notes from Calgary and awards for Sabres' second-rounders" »

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

Don't go downtown: Sabres cancel morning skate

By Mike Harrington

Tonight's game against the Montreal Canadiens is the Sabres' fifth in eight days and comes following their late-night return from Long Island and their 4-1 loss to the Islanders. And with a long flight to Calgary scheduled after practice Monday, the Sabres have announced they have canceled their morning skate today in First Niagara Center.

I've already gotten an email and some inquiries on Twitter because the morning skates on the weekend tend to be popular with fans. So this is your official notice: Don't go downtown. The building will be shuttered because there's nothing to see today.

The Sabres haven't been much to see of late either. They've lost five straight, equaling their season high, and have scored just five goals in those games. The Habs, meanwhile, were four minutes away from falling to 0-4 with old friend Thomas Vanek in the lineup but pulled off a miracle rally Saturday night against Ottawa.

Trailing, 4-1, Montreal scored three goals to tie the game -- with the equalizer by David Desharnais coming with three-tenths of a second left -- and got a Francis Bouillon goal in overtime to post a stunning 5-4 win. 

In fact, it was more than stunning. It was historic. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the first time in NHL history a team has trailed by three goals in the final five minutes and came back to win a game. Wow. NEVER happened before? Amazing.

Vanek will be making his first appearance in Buffalo since getting traded by the Sabres to the Islanders on Oct. 27. He has 21 goals and 33 assists this season in 64 games between the three teams. He has just one assist so far with the Habs, who have already bounced him between some lines.

If you missed them, here are the video highlights/lowlights of the Habs' big comeback and the Sabres' latest dreary loss:

Continue reading "Don't go downtown: Sabres cancel morning skate" »

A huge night for Lightning as Stamkos returns, Callahan debuts

By Mike Harrington

TAMPA, Fla. -- I'm looking forward to tonight's game in the Tampa Bay Times Forum because I'm expecting a huge buzz in the building. After being out 45 games, Steven Stamkos is back. And Ryan Callahan is making his debut.

There was a playoff-level sized media horde in the building this morning for the team's morning skate and coach Jon Cooper knew something was up when he entered the room for his media briefing and saw it packed.

"It's different for sure," Cooper said. "There are so many little side stories tonight."

The return of Stamkos from his broken leg is a big one. Cooper cracked "fourth-line center" when asked how Stamkos would be used tonight. Stamkos, for his part, is happy to be on the ice and to have a resolution of the Marty St. Louis drama.

"Now that all this is over, we can kind of breathe a sigh of relief," Stamkos said. "Marty's gone, the trade deadline is over, I'm coming back. This is our group. That was the message today. We have 20 games left. No matter what happens, these are the guys we're going to go to battle with every day."

Callahan said he was surprised he couldn't get a deal done with the Rangers.

"I thought a deal was going to get done to be honest with you," Callahan said. "I thought at the end of the day both parties couldn't agree on something that worked for both of us. That' s part of the business. They felt they needed to move on so it's time for ne to move on and start a new chapter."

"My major message to him was jus, 'Don't come in here and think you have to be Marty St. Louis,' " Cooper said. "... " 'That's not what you're here for. We expect you to play as hard as you did for the Rangers.' If he gives us that type of effort, he's a home run for us."

You can listen to my audio of Callahan's interview today by clicking below

Ryan Callahan

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

Banged-up Ennis to sit vs. Bruins

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres' lineup for tonight's game against Boston will be a game-time decision but interim coach Ted Nolan said this morning that Tyler Ennis won't play. Stand down, trade rumor mongers: Ennis took a hard hit into the boards in the third period last night and Nolan said he's day to day with "general body soreness".

Ennis is Buffalo's second-leading scorer with 30 points (14-16) and has seven points in the last seven games. He scored a go-ahead goal in the third period last night against Carolina, making a headlong dive to puck the poke through the crease past Carolina's Cam Ward. Only a few players skated this morning and the lines won't be formed until warmups but the scuttlebutt is that Ville Leino will get the first chance to go between Matt Moulson and Drew Stafford.

Henrik Tallinder will go back in on defense after sitting out last night's win following his return from Sochi. John Scott, who played on defense last night with Jamie McBain, could sit tonight or move up to forward. As Nolan planned over the weekend, Jhonas Enroth will be in goal against Boston's Chad Johnson in a battle of backups.

Center Zenon Konopka confirmed this morning he had surgery on his left pinkie over the Olympic hiatus after breaking the finger in October while playing for Minnesota. Konopka said he's going to play tonight although Nolan did not confirm his spot in the lineup.

"You love to get back in there," said Konopka, who has one assist in 13 games with the Sabres. "You love to play hockey so it's going to be exciting. It's always a good rivalry with Boston so it will be fun."

TSN floated Konopka's name yesterday as a possible trade acquisition for a team looking for a veteran to help with faceoffs. Konopka said simply it's that time of year.

"The older you get, the more you realize you can't control it so why worry about it?" he said. "Everything happens for a reason. It's an adventure. I've been outspoken growing up right around Buffalo (in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.). I love it here. I want to be here long term. But I understand it's a business and there will be guys moved at the deadline. What's meant to be is meant to be."

The Sabres will have to play a much better game tonight in front of Enroth than they did last night against Ryan Miller. Nolan expected them to be moving well and it didn't work out that way as Carolina had a 38-18 advantage in shots.

"I was a little bit surprised but this year a lot of things don't surprise me," Nolan said. "We weren't up to par, it took us a little while to get our game going but we got it going enough to get that win.

"You look at the first games of the regular season and they're a little bit rusty and shaky. It takes a little while no matter how much preparation and practice you do. There's nothing like game time. I thought both teams were a little bit shaky at points but it's going to get better."

Scott makes amends with Nolan, gets a chance on 'D' tonight

By Mike Harrington

Let's get the answer to the big question inquiring minds want to know first. No, not trades. What's up with John Scott?

Scott and Ted Nolan both said they're cool with each other after the Sabres' interim coach booted his enforcer from practice yesterday. Nolan tried to downplay it this morning, saying "I asked him to stay in until he cooled down a little bit" but those of us who were there know better.

Scott, in fact, is going to be in the lineup at defense tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. He's going to partner with Jamie McBain while Henrik Tallinder gets the night off after just getting in this morning from Sochi.

As for yesterday's blowout, reporters gathered around Scott's locker after today's morning skate and that prompted catcalls from teammates with cracks like, "Anything to get on camera, Johnny."

"I obviously wasn't happy about it," Scott said. "No one likes getting sent off practice. I was having a tough practice. I just kinda overreacted a little bit, got a little upset. It happens and you move on.

"It was ironed out as soon as he came off the ice. I went and talked to him and apologized. We had a talk. Everything's fine. We're moving on, playing a game tonight."

"I was perfect with John Scott yesterday," Nolan said. "In this sport, sometimes you have those moments but it's forgotten right afterwards.

Scott said he understood why Nolan reacted the way he did.

"I'm surprised that that happened. It was kind of a weird event," he said. "I've never seen that happen before in my career. It was definitely something new but it's OK. We're fine now. I know exactly where he's coming from. He doesn't want lackadaisical practices and I was terrible yesterday. I couldn't make passes or anything.

"It was one of those days where nothing was going right. I understand his decision. I totally get what he's doing and I would have done the same thing probably."

There's no changes to the plan for tonight's lineup from what the Sabres have advertised the last few days. Ryan Miller will play goal, while the three players who were out with injuries prior to the Olympic break (Tyler Myers, Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick) will all play tonight. McCormick has been out with a finger injury since Dec. 14, a span of 24 games. Zenon Konopka will be a healthy scratch along with Tallinder.

Because it's a gameday, Miller stayed with the custom followed by many NHL goaltenders of not speaking with the media prior to the game. 

You can click the file below to hear Nolan's pregame comments on Scott, Miller, Tallinder and his hopes for a faster game tonight with several healthy and fresh players in the lineup following the Olympic break.

Ted Nolan

Myers to sit against Penguins

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres will not have Tyler Myers tonight against Pittsburgh as his lower-body injury suffered Monday against Edmonton remains too sore. Interim coach Ted Nolan said after today's morning skate that Myers could play tomorrow in Ottawa (Memo from this corner: No reason for that. Sit him until the Olympic break ends).

Chad Ruhwedel, a healthy scratch Monday, comes into the lineup for Myers. That means Sabres fans continue to hold their breath when the likes of Mike Weber (minus-29), Jamie McBain and Alexander Sulzer are on the ice.

Nolan said the forward lines will remain the same, thus Ville Leino and Zenon Konopka will be healthy scratches. Nolan didn't do much line matching during last week's 3-0 loss in Pittsburgh and said today he's not planning much more here, even though the Sabres have the last change to put the same group on the ice against Sidney Crosby's line.

The top three lines are Tyler Ennis between Linus Omark and Drew Stafford, Cody Hodgson between Steve Ott and Matt D'Agostini and newly-installed Zemgus Girgensons between Phil Varone and Brian Flynn.

"Our three lines are all basically almost the same cloth right now," Nolan said. "There's no really set checking line, no really set offensive line. We've got what we have. To put any of those top three lines whoever is feeling good at the time is what we'll probably do.

Click below to hear Nolan's complete session with the media today, with thoughts on Ennis, Girgensons and Penguins' coach Dan Bylsma's dilemma picking a goalie for Team USA.

And stay tuned for another post here on the Penguins, including Crosby and Bylsma

Numerology on tonight's Draft Bowl vs. Edmonton

By Mike Harrington

Some pretty interesting numbers heading into tonight's Draft Bowl, the first of two meetings this year between the 29th-place Edmonton Oilers and 30th-place Buffalo Sabres:

---The teams haven't met in more than two years, since a 4-3 Sabres win here on Jan. 3, 2012. Buffalo has won the last six meetings -- and the Oilers haven't beaten the Sabres since Oct. 16, 2003 at Rexall Place. They haven't won in Buffalo since March 4, 2002. Ryan Miller has started all six of those games, going 6-0, 1.67 and .943 but Jhonas Enroth is starting tonight against Ilya Bryzgalov.

---Matt Moulson, who is injured and won't play tonight, leads the Sabres with 33 points. The most among guys who have been in Buffalo all year is 29 by Cody Hodgson. The Oilers have four players with more points -- Taylor Hall (54), Jordan Eberle (45), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (42) and David Perron (39).

---The games features the NHL's bottom four players in plus-minus. Sabres captain Steve Ott is minus-24, defenseman Tyler Myers is minus-26 (including minus-11 in the last seven games), defenseman Mike Weber is minus-29 and Edmonton winger Nail Yakupov is minus-30. Holy moly.

---Who's leading after two periods is a key stat most nights. It seems doubly important tonight. Leading after two, Buffalo is 5-0-2 and Edmonton is 11-1-2. Trailing after two, the Sabres are 2-26-4 and the Oilers are 3-29-1. Yeesh.

---The Sabres are 5-12-1 against the West and the Oilers are 9-12-2 against the East.

---The Sabres have scored 99 goals this season (the standings show 105 because they count six shootout winners).  Florida is the next lowest at 126. Edmonton has 145.

---Despite being in last place, the Sabres are only 19th in goals against with 157 (thank you, Ryan Miller). Edmonton is dead last at 192 and the Sabres are averaging 2.8 goals over their last 10 games, a pretty good clip.

---The Oilers are 19th on the power play (17.7 percent) and 17th on the penalty kill (80.9) but they're just 28th on the road on the PP (11.6). The Sabres are 24th overall on the PP (14.7) and 15th on the PK (81.3).

---The Oilers are coming off Saturday's 4-0 loss at Boston that snapped a three-game winning streak. Prior to that run, they had been on hellacious slumps of 2-8-3 and 4-14-3.

---Edmonton was buried early, just like the Sabres. The Oilers started 1-6-1 and were 4-15-2 on Nov. 15. The Sabres were also 1-6-1 at one point en route to 1-9-1, and were 4-15-1 when Ron Rolston was fired on Nov. 13. and Ted Nolan coached his first game two days later.

Nolan goes with his gut over the numbers: Miller will start against Penguins' Fleury

By Mike Harrington

PITTSBURGH -- The Sabres open a brutal stretch of seven games in the final 11 nights prior to the Olympic break tonight in Consol Energy Center (remember that it's a 7:30 game on NBCSN). They are going to have to massage their goaltenders through this stretch and I was certainly one of the observers who thought Ryan Miller would get tonight off and play tomorrow against Washington, with Jhonas Enroth getting the call tonight against the Penguins.

That's how the numbers would play it. Miller is 7-11-3, 3.26 and .888 against Pittsburgh -- his worst winning percentage and save percentage against any opponent. Meanwhile, he's stopped  77 of 79 shots, plus all nine shootout attempts against him, in two wins against the Capitals this year.

Enroth, meanwhile, is 1-3, 2.58 and .914 against Pittsburgh but just 1-10-4 on the season.  

Nolan is going with Miller tonight. He loves Miller, like any coach would. The numbers be damned, Nolan told me today when I asked about them after the morning skate.

"We looked at it. Especially with this year going into the Olympics monitoring our play time with both goaltenders," Nolan said. "But if you looked at Miller's numbers lately, it's been pretty effective. He's a little bit more well rested and in return he's playing much better."

After a glittering December (5-2-1, 1.82, .949), Miller has cooled some in January (3-2-2, 2.37, .921). But he was terrific Saturday in Columbus making 36 saves so it's hard to argue the move. And you know NBC is happy: Think there will be enough Miller-Sidney Crosby discussion tonight?

(Miller, like many goaltenders, does not speak to the media on gameday prior to the game).

Elsewhere in the Buffalo lineup, Nolan said Drew Stafford aggravated a previous injury Saturday in Columbus and will be out tonight and perhaps a few more games. Ville Leino, who didn't finish the game Saturday, will play and Linus Omark will be in for Stafford. John Scott and Alexander Sulzer will be scratches.

Marc-Andre Fleury will be in goal for Pittsburgh, which has won 14 of its last 15 home games but is coming off Saturday's 3-0 loss in Dallas.

Among tonight's goals: Silence the Nationwide Arena Goal Cannon

Cannon
The cannon sits quietly this afternoon.

By Mike Harrington

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- You'll hear it on TV tonight but it's not nearly the same as when you're in Nationwide Arena. Every time the Blue Jackets take the ice at the start of a game, every time they score a goal and every time they wrap up a win, a replica Civil War cannon is fired in one corner of the building.

The "Goal Cannon" has become such a part of the experience that it even has its own page on the team's Web site.

And it's loud. They have warning signs at every seat in the press box about a loud "concussion" when the cannon is fired. Doesn't matter. You still jump. Even Blue Jackets players do.

"It still scares you. I don't think you ever get used to it," said Sabres center Zenon Konopka, who played here parts of two seasons. "You're waiting for it but you never know when it's gonna pop."

"It's definitely loud," added defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, a regular visitor during his days in the Western Conference. "I hope we don't have to hear it."

There's a good chance the Sabres will. The Blue Jackets have scored 3+ goals for eight straight games, tying the team record set in 2006. They rank third in the NHL in goals per game in January (3.7) and tied for sixth for the season (2.88).

Here's a look at the cannon in action:

Ruhwedel's season debut comes in a tough spot

By Mike Harrington

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel will become the 37th player to dress for the Sabres this season when he makes his season debut tonight in Nationwide Arena. And it's in a tough spot against the Blue Jackets, who are on a franchise-record eight-game winning streak.

"He can skate. We need good puck-moving defensemen," interim coach Ted Nolan said after today's pregame skate. "Everybody looks for them and he'll have his opportunity tonight."

Ruhwedel didn't look out of place in seven NHL games when he was signed late last season right out of the Mass-Lowell blueline following the Frozen Four. And he's been solid this year in Rochester, leading Amerks blueliners with 17 points in 34 games.

Last season, especially the end of it, was quite the whirlwind for Ruhwedel but he said he's adjusted well this year.

Continue reading "Ruhwedel's season debut comes in a tough spot" »

« Older Entries
Advertisement
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 | [email protected]

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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]

Subscribe

Advertisement