POSTED ON Friday, 03.30.2012 / 2:00 PM
Buffalo has picked a great time to get hot with only five games remaining and the Pittsburgh Penguins in town tonight for a 7:30 p.m. face off. The Sabres enter tonight’s game riding a five-game winning streak, their longest stretch of victories since winning six in a row from Dec. 29, 2009 to Jan. 8, 2010.
Buffalo is currently tied in points with Washington at 86, but the Sabres hold the eighth and final playoff spot because they’ve played one less game than the Capitals. If the Sabres lose in regulation, they’ll fall back into ninth place due to tiebreakers. Washington hosts Montreal tomorrow night.
Since Feb. 17 when they sat in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 10 points out of a playoff spot, Buffalo has gone on a 14-2-4. The Sabres have the best record in the league during that stretch and Pittsburgh has the next best winning percentage with a 15-4-1 record in that time.
“It’s a great feeling when you start winning and everyone starts pulling together and working hard for each other,” said Sabres center Derek Roy after today’s morning skate at First Niagara Center. “Going out there in practice and having fun and even in games, it’s the same thing, having fun and working together. We just need to keep doing the little things to make us successful. ”
The Penguins are coming off back-to-back losses against the New York Islanders and have not lost three consecutive games since they found themselves in the midst of a six-game losing streak from Dec. 29, 2011-Jan. 11, 2012.
“It’s definitely a statement game,” said Sabres center Tyler Ennis. “Pittsburgh’s one of the best teams in the league and they’re good in every area. They work hard. It’s going to be a tough game and we know what we have to do. It’s the point of the year where we have to win and it should be a fun game.”
Tonight marks the first time the Sabres will see Sidney Crosby this season. The Penguins captain has 13 points in nine games since returning from a concussion that held him out of 60 games this year. Center Evgeni Malkin has shouldered the offensive load this season in Crosby’s absence and has continued to put up numbers since Crosby’s return. Malkin has nine goals and 10 assists in his last 10 games.
“They’re both tremendous players, both highly skilled on the rush,” said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. “…We know that they’re both world class. We know we’re going to have to pay special attention, but at the same time, we want that team to worry about how we’re playing, too.”
“It’s not fun coming out of the lineup but there’s nothing I could do about that,” Weber said. “Those are the things that are out of my control and I’m just going to continue to work hard and try to get better every day and when I get my opportunity, go in and play the way I was.”
While the loss of Ehrhoff will be felt – he’s averaged 23:03 of ice time in 66 games this season – defenseman Jordan Leopold is confident in the depth on the back end.
“We have seven NHL defensemen and it’s unfortunate one of us has to miss. But now with the injury, it makes it pretty easy to put Webby back in,” Leopold said. “He’s been a big part of our team all year and he played well so we need him to continue doing that. It’s a collective group effort and whoever’s on the ice at whatever time opportunities present themselves, we need to perform.”
Ville Leino – Roy – Jason Pominville
Corey Tropp – Cody Hodgson – Thomas Vanek
Marcus Foligno – Ennis – Drew Stafford
Cody McCormick – Brad Boyes – Patrick Kaleta
Leopold – Tyler Myers
Robyn Regehr – Andrej Sekera
Weber – Alexander Sulzer
Jochen Hecht, Nathan Gerbe and Matt Ellis skated as an extra line.
Ellis took the ice with the team for the first time since injuring his knee eight games ago against Ottawa. Ruff said that he’s “still a ways away” from returning to the lineup. Ellis was the only player today wearing a red non-contact jersey.
Gerbe will miss his eighth straight game with an upper body injury and Hecht has been out since Jan. 24 with a concussion.
The Sabres will hold a “Party in the Plaza” tonight for Fan Appreciation Night, presented by ADPRO Sports and Connors & Ferris.
Festivities will begin in the plaza area located near Perry Street and Illinois Street at 5 p.m. with live music from local band Strictly Hip. The party is open to all fans, and those without tickets can stay to watch MSG’s game feed on two large video screens in the plaza.
Perry Street will be closed between Main Street and Illinois Street during the plaza party. The Illinois Street entrances to the First Niagara Center Parking Ramp will remain accessible via South Park Avenue and Perry Street.
Food and beverages will be available for purchase before the game and will continue to be sold throughout. There will be a three beer limit per person. Coolers and chairs are prohibited due to the volume of fans expected to attend.
Once fans head inside, they can take advantage of family-friendly food prices from 5:30 to 6:30 at arena concession stands. Special Fan Appreciation Night merchandise prices will be in effect at the Sabres Store throughout the night as well.
POSTED ON Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 3:18 PM
With seven games remaining, the Buffalo Sabres’ prospects of making the playoffs have brightened in the last few weeks.
Following a victory against the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers last night, the Sabres return to First Niagara Center tonight at 7 p.m. to take on the Minnesota Wild.
Buffalo currently sits in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 82 points, tied in points with eighth-place Washington and two back from seventh-place Ottawa. The Capitals and Senators have also played 75 games. Boston leads the Northeast Division with 87 points and has nine games remaining.
“I think there’s a ways to go to get Boston in play,” said head coach Lindy Ruff after this morning’s team meeting at the arena. “But the fact we put Ottawa within our sights, it’s important because it looked like a week ago there was going to be one spot up for grabs and now there looks like there’s four teams probably battling for two.”
The Capitals gave up a 3-0 lead to the Winnipeg Jets at home last night and ended up losing 4-3 in overtime. Winnipeg is in the mix for the playoffs as well as they hold the 10th seed with 78 points and eight games to play. The Sabres may be scoreboard watching, but they know that what they do on the ice is the most pressing matter.
“We’ve got to take of our own business,” Ruff said. “Obviously for [Washington] to get one was better than getting two. That gap, it looks like there’s going to be a couple teams involved now, maybe a couple spots and hopefully we can put together the type of effort we need tonight to win a game.”
Meanwhile, the Wild hold the 13th seed in the Western Conference, 13 points out of a playoff spot. They’re led in scoring by winger Dany Heatley, who has 21 goals and 47 points this season. Captain Mikko Koivu returned to the lineup on Thursday after missing 15 games with an upper-body injury.
“They’ve got a real good first line,” said Sabres forward Ville Leino. “Koivu’s a real good player in both ends. [Devin] Setoguchi and Heatley are creative players and good scorers. We’ve got to definitely keep an eye on those guys. They’re going to work hard and we’ve got to work hard, too.
Forward Travis Turnbull opened the scoring for the Sabres last night with his first career NHL goal. Driving hard to the net on a line with Cody McCormick and Brad Boyes, Turbull was driven into the end boards to the right of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist by Rangers defenseman Stu Bickel. Turnbull threw the puck out in front and it ended up deflecting off John Mitchell’s skate and past his own goaltender.
“I knew right away because I heard Cody yelling, ‘You scored!’” Turnbull said. “I took a look over my shoulder as I was going in the corner. I saw Boysie coming in and I tried to dish it out to Boysie while I was getting hit. It was fortunate enough to go off Mitchell’s skate there and go five-hole.”
Turbull skated 3:27 in his second NHL game last night and impressed Ruff was his hard work.
“I thought it was the greatest goal of the game if you ask me,” Ruff said. “I think anytime you can score, the effort to get there – we got a bounce obviously – we’ve had some situation where we didn’t get them, but that was a good time for us.”
In 53 games with the Rochester Americans this season, Turnbull put up 12 goals, 15 assists and 94 penalty minutes. The 25-year-old rookie is currently up with the Sabres in place of injured Patrick Kaleta and he’s relishing every moment in his first NHL call-up. Getting a goal has certainly made it that much more memorable.
“Oh my gosh, it was awesome. All the guys were so great to me, especially Boyes and McCormick in helping me out here in my first couple games here in the NHL. They told me what a big goal. t was a feeling that you dream of as a little kid and it happened last night at Madison Square Garden. It was great but even better that we got the win.”
Turnbull, a native of St. Louis, said all of his friends were watching the game at the local Buffalo Wild Wings. He said his phone and Facebook and Twitter accounts have been blowing up since he was called up and scoring that goal didn’t slow down the influx of messages.
“It’s been crazy but I’ve been trying to get back to people through one message kind of saying, ‘I’ll get back to everybody when it kind of settles down here,’” he said. “I’m just trying to concentrate on the games.”
The Sabres held an optional skate after this morning’s meeting with only a handful of players taking the ice including Kaleta, Jochen Hecht and Jhonas Enroth.
Ryan Miller has started in goal for 17 of Buffalo’s last 18 games and has appeared in 28 of the last 29. Coming off a back-to-back situation, Ruff could go with Enroth tonight but wouldn’t tip his hand. Miller allowed one goal on 27 shots last night.
“They know who’s playing… I’m not going to tell you. I want the opposition to guess,” Ruff told the media with a grin. “We made a decision earlier in the week what the schedule was going to be and we’re sticking to it.”
POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.20.2012 / 3:28 PM
Myers was suspended three games for hitting Canadiens forward Scott Gomez into the boards from behind during the team’s last match-up on March 12. Myers was called for boarding on the play and Gomez has not played since. The suspension was the first of Myers' career.
If there is any retaliation coming from the Canadiens tomorrow, Myers told the media after this afternoon's team meeting that he’s not thinking about it.
“I’m going to approach tomorrow night like any other game. It’s in the past. I didn’t mean to hurt him,” Myers said. “That’s not my intention to go in looking to kill a guy, so whatever happens happens. I’m just going to go into that game and focus on getting two points.”
With Myers back, the Sabres have seven healthy defensemen ready to go. Christian Ehrhoff, Jordan Leopold, Robyn Regehr, Andrej Sekera, Alexander Sulzer and Mike Weber round out the back end and one will have to sit. Ruff said that he’d like to keep all seven playing so it’s likely that sixth spot will be rotated on a nightly basis.
“It’s a great situation for us to be in. We would’ve begged to have been this healthy three months ago,” said head coach Lindy Ruff. “For me, it’s tough, but the way the seven guys have played, we’re going to need them all.”
Goaltender Ryan Miller was impressed by the defense’s play during Myers’ absence but he said that he’s excited to have the 6-foot-8 d-man back on the ice.
“I thought our D corps played really well but we do miss his skating ability, his range,” Miller said. “…Everybody looked like they were playing pretty well with their partner so it’s good to see that we’ve got guys able to step in and play. Tyler’s a key part of this team and we need him to be on the top of his game.”
|Lindy Ruff Interview|
|Drew Stafford Interview|
|Ryan Miller Interview|
|Tyler Myers Interview|
With three more games this week, the Sabres know it’s going to continue to be a tough battle to get into the playoffs.
“Obviously we need a little bit of help but we’re not worried about that,” said forward Drew Stafford. “We’re worried about taking care of our own business here. We’re worried about winning our games and then whatever happens is out of our hands.”
The Sabres have nine games to go this season and two more sets of back-to-backs, including this weekend when they travel to play the Rangers on Friday and then come back to Buffalo to host the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. The next three games lead up to what could be a showdown with major playoff implications against Washington on March 27.
“For us, it’s just knowing that we have to take care of two points at a time,” Miller said. “We really just have to keep pace until we can play a team like Washington and hopefully get a swing.”
Jochen Hecht, Patrick Kaleta, Derek Roy and Myers were among the few players who took the ice.
Ruff updated the media on the conditions of Hecht and Nathan Gerbe and Matt Ellis. Ellis has been out since March 11 with a knee injury. Ruff said that while he’s doing a lot better, he still isn’t close to returning to the lineup.
The team had hoped Gerbe would be able to play during the Florida trip. He’s missed the last three games with an upper-body injury.
“He’s just not responding to treatment,” Ruff said. “He’s skated on his own but just can’t quite get over the hump.”
Hecht is still skating in a non-contact role.
POSTED ON Friday, 03.16.2012 / 2:14 PM
He practiced for the first time this morning after missing the Buffalo Sabres’ last five games. Sekera could be back in the lineup for tomorrow night’s game against the Florida Panthers.
“I really didn’t know what it was, but then I figured it out,” the Sabres 25-year-old defenseman from Slovakia said. “I translated it in my cell phone in the Slovakian language and I understood what it is exactly.”
Sekera has been out since the team’s game against Carolina on March 7. He tried going out for warm-ups that night, but ended up being a late scratch.
“Before the game I didn’t feel very well. I felt good all day and then I started going out for warm-up, I started feeling sick. It came out of nowhere. My stomach hurt,” he told the media after practice. “It just hit me. Fever, headaches, I thought it was just a bug.”
Sekera was battling a high fever and after having trouble breathing when walking the stairs in his house, he visited with his doctors. After some x-rays of his chest, they discovered he had pneumonia.
He said that he had been previously hospitalized with pneumonia for about a week when he was a teenager living in Slovakia. As he started feeling better this time around, he began to exercise again and worked to regain the nearly 10 pounds he lost.
|Lindy Ruff Interview|
|Jason Pominville Interview|
|Andrej Sekera Interview|
|Derek Roy Interview|
Sekera is anxious to get back onto the ice and believes that he can play tomorrow, even if it’s not for the 19:20 he’s been averaging this season.
“I will do my best and see how I do from period to period,” Sekera said. “I don’t promise anything. I just want to out, skate well and play a hard game to help this team win some hockey games.”
Head coach Lindy Ruff wouldn’t rule Sekera out.
“He did a lot better. He got through his first full practice so hopefully he could be a possibility for tomorrow,” Ruff said.
Coupled with Tyler Myers missing last game and the next two due to a suspension, Sekera’s illness has opened the door for defensemen Alexander Sulzer and Brayden McNabb to play bigger minutes for the club. When Sekera and Myers return, Ruff and his staff will have to make some tough decisions in terms of who gets into the lineup.
“We’ll have to play the guys who are playing the best,” Ruff explained. “If Sulzer is playing better than somebody, he’ll play. He’s put in a pretty solid stint with us so far and I think him and Christian [Ehrhoff] have played well together, so it’s a decision we’ll have to make.
“Hopefully we have to make a decision like that. That just means we’re healthy.”
Lines from today’s practice:
Thomas Vanek – Cody Hodgson – Ville Leino
Corey Tropp – Derek Roy – Jason Pominville
Marcus Foligno – Tyler Ennis – Drew Stafford
Cody McCormick – Brad Boyes – Patrick Kaleta
Sekera, Ehrhoff, Leopold, McNabb, Myers, Sulzer, Robyn Regehr and Mike Weber all practiced as well.
Nathan Gerbe (upper body injury) did not participate but he skated on his own before practice. Ruff said that he’s “day-to-day” and will travel with the team to Florida.
During practice, Ruff sported a warm-up jacket with stop sign and “Do Not Enter” patches stitched to the back and a yield sign plastered to the front. The jacket was in response to an incident during practice last month when defenseman Jordan Leopold inadvertently knocked Ruff down during a drill, causing the coach to break three of his ribs.
Ruff said the jacket was a gag gift from local professional golfer Dudley Hart and that he only planned on wearing it once. He changed by the time he spoke with the media.
“That was just my on-ice [jacket]. Just a little bit of extra protection,” Ruff joked. “Guys notice the stop sign and the yield so they don’t run me over.”
POSTED ON Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 1:24 PM
Ryan Miller will make his ninth straight start in goal tonight when the Buffalo Sabres host the Carolina Hurricanes at 7 p.m. at First Niagara Center. Miller has appeared in the Sabres’ last 20 games and is 11-3-3 in his last 18 with a 1.78 goals against average and a .942 save percentage. In his last eight games, he’s 6-1-1 with a 1.60 goals against average and a .952 save percentage.
With all of that work from Miller, backup Jhonas Enroth has been relegated to the bench. He’s made only two starts since Jan. 18 but the Sabres have five games in the next eight days. After tonight’s game they’ll travel to Boston for a game against the Bruins tomorrow night. Ruff said that Enroth would start one of the upcoming games during this busy stretch.
“We put a plan in place and again, [Miller’s] going to need a game [off] here or there,” Ruff said. “The schedule’s been demanding but the fact that we took a couple days on the road trip in between where we didn’t put the equipment on, in talking to him this morning, he felt a lot fresher. We’ve got some back-to-back games that Jhonas will have to play.”
“I’m still chewing on that one. I’ve talked to the players, talked to individuals on that line. Sometimes it’s something they’ve got to work their way through,” Ruff said. “It’s really the first tough segment those guys have gone through in Pommer and Van’s case. But we’ve been going well as a team and I may make an adjustment before the game; I may not.”
Vanek said that getting back on track starts in practice and thought he had a good skate this morning.
“It’s just one of those things where we’re not getting it done, myself included,” Vanek said. “As I said the other day, it’s a game of confidence and when it’s not there you need to start to play a little simpler. That’s what I’m trying to do right now.”
One line that has been clicking for the Sabres has been that of Tyler Ennis, Cody Hodgson and Drew Stafford.
“I thought that line had some good chemistry,” Ruff said. “Maybe not the best game in Winnipeg but I thought the two games before that, they really played well.”
Ennis moved from the center position to the left wing upon Hodgson’s arrival at the trade deadline. Their line created many scoring opportunities on the road trip and scored goals in San Jose and Vancouver. Ennis said that he’s had a good transition moving back to the wing and that he’s enjoyed playing with Hodgson.
“I love it. He’s a really good, well-rounded player,” Ennis said. “He does it all. He’s smart. He understands the game which pretty fun to play with.”
“I don’t have too much expectations but I’m looking forward to it,” Hodgson said. “I’ve never played in this rink but I’ve heard real good things. It’s loud and exciting with a lot of passionate.”
Lines from today’s practice:
Vanek – Roy – Pominville
Ennis – Hodgson – Stafford
Nathan Gerbe – Ville Leino – Patrick Kaleta
Matt Ellis – Brad Boyes – Corey Tropp
Christian Ehrhoff – Mike Weber
Jordan Leopold – Tyler Myers
Robyn Regehr – Andrej Sekera
Forward Cody McCormick and defenseman Alexander Sulzer also skated.
For that stretch to continue, Ruff said that his team will have to shut down the Hurricanes’ top weapons. Captain Eric Staal leads the Hurricanes with 19 goals and 59 points. Brandon Sutter had a goal and assist in the team’s last game and reigning Calder Trophy Winner Jeff Skinner has five points in his last five games (1+4).
“I think they’ve got four or five guys on the offensive side of it who are dangerous,” Ruff said. “Last time when we played them in our building here earlier in the year, we gave them a lot of odd-numbered situations. Some of them were shorthanded. We’ve got to stay away from those types of opportunities.”
POSTED ON Saturday, 02.18.2012 / 2:18 PM
Click on the player links below to hear full interviews that took place after practice:
Special teams units
PP #1: Vanek-Boyes-Pominville, Leopold-Roy
PP #2: Stafford-Ennis-Kassian, Myers-Ehrhoff
PK #1: Gaustad-Leino or Kaleta, Regehr-Weber
PK #2: Ellis-Gerbe, Gragnani-Sekera
POSTED ON Monday, 02.13.2012 / 3:01 PM
The Devils currently sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference and fourth in the Atlantic Division. While New Jersey is 11th in the league in scoring and in the middle of the road in goals against, they still have a reputation as a tight checking team that can frustrate opponents.
“They like to clog up things in the neural zone and they do a good job in the D zone trying to surround the puck with a lot of guys. So we've got to be ready,” said Sabres center Derek Roy after this morning's practice. “We were trying to work on spreading the ice out, getting guys up high, trying to create some confusion in the offensive zone.”
CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL DEREK ROY INTERVIEW
Head coach Lindy Ruff called many of the mistakes his team made against Tampa Bay “self-inflicted.” When preparing for New Jersey, he indicated that his team has been working on getting more pucks on net and driving to the goal.
“It had a lot more to do with what we were doing than what Tampa was doing,” Ruff said. “I think almost every team in this league has learned to be frustrating defensively and if you can't frustrate the other team, especially when you have a lead, you usually end up losing the game.”
“I was hoping for last game,” Ruff explained. “Even if I do go back, I think even if I go back tomorrow, I'm going to need help because there are situations where I still can't vocalize loud enough and especially with the crowd, [I won't be able to] react quick enough to have people ready. If I do go back there, I'll have James sort of in the same role.”
Last game, Ruff said four pucks were shot into the bench during Saturday's game and he joked that standing back there may not be the safest place to be.
“Teppo got hit with one of them. I'd like to laugh about it, but I don't want to because I don't want to get hit at the same time,” Ruff said. “If I hang out by the tunnel, there's a good chance I'd probably get hit. If I stay in the same spot I normally do, I won't. I don't think we can change too much.”
Lines from today's practice:
Thomas-Vanek-Derek Roy-Jason Pominville
Nathan Gerbe-Tyler Ennis-Drew Stafford
Ville Leino-Paul Gaustad-Patrick Kaleta
Brad Boyes-Matt Ellis-Zack Kassian
All seven defensemen and goaltenders Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth participated as well.
Winger Cody McCormick did not skate. He suffered an upper-body injury on Friday and Ruff said he's improving.
“Nobody has shut him down so he's still in the procedure of working his way back,” Ruff said.
POSTED ON Saturday, 02.11.2012 / 1:05 PM
One specific case is that of Luke Adam. After a hot start that helped earn him a trip to the All-Star festivities in Ottawa in January, the rookie forward has not registered a point in his last 20 games, dating back to Dec. 17 against Pittsburgh. Adam has been a healthy scratch in two of the last five games, and the coaching staff made the decision to send him down to Rochester today.
Rookie winger Zack Kassian, recalled from the Americans today, will be in the Sabres' lineup tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Right now [Adam's] confidence level is low,” Ruff said. “He needs to go play. He needs to go play a lot of minutes. He needs to get back on the scoresheet and I don't think this is unlike a lot of young players. It's been a tough stretch for him, and Zack has been going well down there.”
Kassian has recorded three goals and three assists with Buffalo this season. He was first called up on Nov. 25, playing in 18 of 19 games as an injury replacement and was an emergency recall again on Feb. 1. He played in one game and sat in another as a healthy scratch in that second recall before being sent back down to Rochester last Sunday.
He's scored twice in each of his last two AHL games, most recently in last night's 9-4 home win over the Texas Stars. In 30 games with the Amerks, Kassian has 15 goals and 11 assists and was named to the All-Star team.
“We'll bring him in, put him in the lineup. He's played well for us. He's been in on a lot of chances. Hopefully he can give us a little pop too,” Ruff said.
With winger Cody McCormick listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury, Kassian adds some toughness to the lineup as well.
“Cody's done a real good job for us on the physical side of it. So without him, we can get Kass in and he's more of a physical player,” Ruff said.
Ruff also explained that the length of Adam's stint in the minors, where he hasn't played all season, will ultimately be up to him.
“Luke will make that decision himself. If he goes down there and plays well, it's temporary. But he needs to go and put points up and play really well,” Ruff said. “The decision to bring players up is just based on how they play.”
Tonight's game wraps up the Sabres' 15th of a league-high 21 pairs of back-to-back games this season. The Tampa Bay Lightning last played Thursday night, losing to the New York Rangers in overtime. In a game between two teams battling for a playoff spot, Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff recognizes the importance of a fast start for his club.
"That's probably going to be what they say in the dressing room before, to get on us early,” Ehrhoff said. “They watched last night so they're going to try and get off to a good start and we have to make sure we get our legs going again and be ready when the puck drops.”
For Ruff, having good puck movement is important, but so is staying out of the penalty box and keeping Tampa Bay's top players like Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis in check.
“I think overall, our discipline when it comes to penalties, we've cleaned that up again. It's going to be important against this team tonight,” Ruff said. “They're basically been playing three lines. They've been going with that big line 20-plus minutes and you can't give them any free opportunities.”
Ruff indicated that he'll make a decision about whether to coach from behind the bench or not before tonight's game. After breaking three ribs in a fall in practice on Monday, he's coached the last two games from the press box.
POSTED ON Monday, 02.06.2012 / 2:54 PM
The Sabres have dealt with numerous injuries this season and they got another scare when head coach Lindy Ruff went down in practice this morning at First Niagara Center.
UPDATE (4:07 p.m.): Ruff has three broken ribs; he is expected to be at practice on Tuesday.
Towards the end of the practice during one-on-one battle drills, defenseman Jordan Leopold lost an edge coming up the ice on Ruff’s blindside and ended up taking the Sabres bench boss down. Ruff hit the ice hard and took a minute or two before skating off for treatment.
“I lost my breath. I was looking back and right when it happened and I kind of yelled, ‘Are you all right? Are you all right?’ And right away, ‘No,’ so that wasn’t a good thing,” Leopold said. “I know Lindy’s a tough guy, he’s played a lot of games in the NHL and played through a lot of injuries. Your body ends up hurting more and more, I think, every day the older you get. That was one of those unexpected ones. Those ones are dangerous.”
Ruff was not available to the media after practice and his status will be updated later today.
Ryan Miller became the Sabres’ all-time career wins leader with a shootout victory over the Islanders on Saturday. In last four starts, Miller is 3-0-1 with a 1.17 goals against average and .962 save percentage.
“To own a piece of history here with a great organization is a source of pride for me,” Miller said after today’s practice. “Try and enjoy it as much as I can, riding this brief little break we have and then get back to work.”
Miller’s 235th win was also his 33rd career shootout victory. The goalie he passed, Dominik Hasek, played in a time when there were no game-deciding shootouts. Miller explained that he understands the difference in eras and that he’s fortunate to playing in a period with the shootout, where he’s been able to accelerate some of those wins.
“I’m not trying to draw any comparisons. I know there’s an asterisk next to it because Dom would have had his fair share of shootout wins,” Miller said. “But for me right now, the way it’s written up, I’m trying to enjoy it and take something positive, something nice from it.”
Lines from today’s practice:
Ville Leino-Derek Roy-Jason Pominville
Nathan Gerbe-Tyler Ennis-Drew Stafford
Paul Gaustad-Cody McCormick-Patrick Kaleta
Cody McCormick-Matt Ellis-Luke Adam
Thomas Vanek did not practice and because Ruff was unavailable afterwards, no update was provided on his condition.
Rochester Americans center Paul Szczechura has been selected as the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Feb. 5, 2012. In three games last week, Szczechura tallied four goals and two assists for six points as the Americans went 2-0-1-0. Szczechura notched an assist in Rochester’s 3-0 win over Abbotsford on Feb. 2, and scored the game-tying goal in the third period as the Amerks earned a point in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Heat the next night. Finally, Szczechura scored both the game-tying and game-winning goals in a 5-4 overtime win at Syracuse on Feb. 4, capping a four-point night and his first career hat trick. A fifth-year pro in his first season with the Buffalo Sabres organization, Szczechura has recorded 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) and a plus-10 rating in 28 games for Rochester this season, while adding one goal and three assists in nine NHL games with Buffalo. For his career, the native of Brantford, Ont., has appeared in 242 career AHL contests, registering 71 goals and 101 assists for 172 points. He also has 10 goals and 10 assists in 92 NHL games with Buffalo and Tampa Bay.
POSTED ON Saturday, 01.07.2012 / 3:32 PM
While defenseman Tyler Myers returned to the lineup last night and forward Ville Leino set to make his comeback tonight against the Winnipeg Jets after missing the last 10 games with a lower body injury, Derek Roy will now be out of the lineup for what head coach Lindy Ruff is calling a period of time.
Roy left 6:19 into last night’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes with an upper body injury and did not return.
“Right now, initially, we don’t feel it’s too bad, but it’s going to be more than days,” Ruff said.
The Sabres are 13-2-3 this season when Roy records a point and he also logs significant minutes on special teams. Ruff said that Leino and Brad Boyes will each see time at the center position to help fill the void.
“By [Roy] being out, someone else is going to have to step in and play those big minutes,” said captain Jason Pominville. “I don’t know who it will be but everyone’s going to have to increase their energy.”
Pominville will reach a career milestone when he suits up for his 500th NHL game tonight. Roy and Thomas Vanek both reached the 500-game plateau earlier in the season. This will be the first time in franchise history that three players drafted and developed by the Sabres will play have reached 500 games with the team in the same season.
“It means a lot. I think earlier on in my career, not a lot of people probably would’ve said that I would’ve played 500,” Pominville said. “And to be able to do it with the same team, the same group of guys – great guys, guys that we’ve had a chance to grow up together basically and start having families and start having our separate lives – has been pretty cool.”
Ruff also confirmed that winger Zack Kassian and defenseman TJ Brennan have been returned to the team’s AHL affiliate in Rochester.