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Beyond The Boards
POSTED ON Monday, 11.11.2013 / 2:12 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff said after practice at First Niagara Center on Monday that he’s ready to return from a lower-body injury that sidelined him against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.

His fellow veteran blueliner Mike Weber, who has been on injured reserve the past seven games with a thumb injury, said he hoped to be cleared by the doctors later today. Monday marked his first practice with the team since sustaining the injury.

“It feels as good as it’s going to feel, I guess, but it feels good so I’m ready to get back at it,” Weber said. “I think that phone call’s going to be today, so we’ll see what’s up. But if it’s up to me, I’m ready to go.”

Sabres coach Ron Rolston, however, said that while he thinks Ehrhoff will be back for the team’s game against the Los Angeles Kings at First Niagara Center on Tuesday, Weber might not be available until the home-and-home series against Toronto this weekend.

Christian said he’s feeling good, so he’ll be ready and Webby’ll be close. He’s close,” Rolston said. “I doubt that [he’ll be ready Tuesday]. Today was his first day of practice.”

Weber, who was injured on Oct. 26 in Tampa Bay, did not travel with the team for their three-game road trip in California. He said he worked out every day on his own back in Buffalo, skating and working on defensive drills.

“Pretty lonely in this locker room for the last week here with no one here,” he said. “Just some locker room guys and some scouts and things like that helping me out. It was pretty lonely but it’s nice to have everyone back and obviously it’s exciting for me to just get back into a full practice with the boys.”

Weber seemed eager to get back and feels that he can help the team through their recent struggles.

“I think the main focus is just our consistency and how we come out every shift. There are too many lulls and in some cases, I don’t think we’re playing nasty enough,” he said. “We’re not playing desperate enough. So those are the little things that I’m going to try and bring if, hopefully, the doctor gets me cleared here. ”

The Sabres will face the Kings for the second time in six days. Despite losing 2-0 in Los Angeles on Thursday, the team felt they played well against the Kings in even-strength situations. Both Los Angeles goals came on the man advantage. Rolston said they’ll look to build off that game and their 5-4 shootout win in San Jose on Monday.

“I think we talked about it that we thought that we had two solid games there,” Rolston said. “Obviously the power play in L.A. right away put us behind the eight ball in terms of penalties, but in terms of 5-on-5 play, I think both those games were a positive in terms of how we wanted to play and the energy level and the effort that we wanted to play with. A lot of areas of our game are getting better and allowing us to create some more offense.


Rolston shook up the lines at practice Monday.

He had benched the top line of Cody Hodgson, Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis for the final 26:11 against Anaheim on Friday. At practice, captain Steve Ott skated with Hodgson and Moulson.

“Steve will probably be in the mucking it up a little more, but I’m sure we’ll be able to read off him and hopefully have some chemistry and be successful,” Moulson said.

Moulson also said he talked with the coaching staff about the benching and is looking forward to putting in a solid effort against the Kings.

“Obviously I want to help this team win. I had a good talk with coach today, so we’re going to move on from that,” he said. “Obviously in sports you’ve got to put things behind you pretty quickly, so I think just getting the mindset [of being] ready to come work today. Obviously we didn’t we didn’t play the way we wanted to play last game, our line especially. We know we have to be better. We’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”


9 Steve Ott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 26 Matt Moulson
25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 8 Cody McCormick – 78 Corey Tropp / 22 Johan Larsson
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 82 Marcus Foligno – 65 Brian Flynn
23 Ville Leino – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
32 John Scott

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 3 Mark Pysyk
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
6 Mike Weber – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
61 Nikita Zadorov – 4 Jamie McBain

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Monday, 11.04.2013 / 6:00 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

SAN JOSE – After flying for five hours on Sunday and adjusting to a time change, the Buffalo Sabres worked on shaking off any jet lag during practice Monday afternoon.

Sabres coach Ron Rolston put his team through many battle drills at practice at SAP Center

Hits were thrown in some of those drills along the boards in one of the most physical practices the Sabres have run all season. In one rep, defenseman Tyler Myers knocked down rookie center Mikhail Grigorenko.

I think the energy’s still been good in terms of the players out on the ice. Even with the record, guys trying to make improvements and the energy’s been there. Ron Rolston

After practice, Grigorenko said he thought having that type of practice after a long trip will be beneficial to getting off to a fast start against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. back in Buffalo.

“I thought that was a really good idea to have a really intense practice because we had a five-hour flight last night and the three-hour time difference,” Grigorenko said. “It was a little bit different. I thought we need to get some kind of energy practice, so we could come back and just kind of [get] a fast tempo.”

Rolston said he liked the energy the players showed and thought they had a good workout. He said that it’s important that players for players to not get down on their 2-13-1 record, and with some of the drills, it’s about creating an atmosphere that both challenges the players, but also allows them to loosen up a bit.

“When you’re in the situation we’re in, we’re obviously not happy with where we’re at record-wise, but we have to stay with the process and guys have to get better. In order to do that, you have to make the environment fun and challenging at the same time when they come to the rink,” Rolston said. “At any point when guys are dreading coming to the rink and guys are dreading coming to the rink, then the process is probably going to slow down or stop.

“We’re trying to do that and I think the energy’s still been good in terms of the players out on the ice. Even with the record, guys trying to make improvements and the energy’s been there. As a staff, we’re making sure that we’re paying close attention to that.”

The team flew out of Buffalo a day early to allow the players to adjust to the time change. On top of that and the long flight, the clocks turned back an hour to accommodate for daylight savings.

“Falling back an hour, it’s a little bit of adjustment even when you’re at home, so it’s good to get out here,” Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller said. “And it’s good to see a different part of the world for some of the young guys here who have never been this way.”

Rolston has often talked about the team’s compete level. Alternate captain Christian Ehrhoff thought that the practice on Monday can help them bring a tougher mindset into games.

“It’s something we have struggled with, but it’s something that usually it shouldn’t even be addressed,” he said. “That should be a gimme and we have to pick up that intensity as a team and a practice like today, where we had a lot of battles and worked hard, it’s going to help us moving forward.”


Ehrhoff played for the Sharks from 2003 until 2009. While he said he enjoys coming back and seeing old friends, he doesn’t necessarily miss the travel teams in the Western Conference have to deal with.

“In the West Coast, every trip feels like it’s a week-or-two-long road trip,” he said. “Guys here who never played in the West don’t even realize the big difference.”


A number of Sabres are taking part in Movember this month, growing moustaches for charity. Miller showed off his ’stache, which is developing a bit of a Rollie Fingers curl.

“I was anticipating Movember here and the guys like to take it down and grow during the whole month and I needed a little head start,” he said. “So I’ve had about a month-and-a-half on the beard so I wanted to give her a little bit longer. It’s got a little curl going here and see if we can get the full hoop going by the end of it.”

In how to maintain it, he said he’s looking for some advice.

“I’d appreciate it if people could maybe give me some pointers on what’s some good kind of gel or wax or something,” he said.

Fans can donate to their favorite player or broadcaster’s efforts here.


26 Matt Moulson – 19 Cody Hodgson – 63 Tyler Ennis
9 Steve Ott – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 78 Corey Tropp / 82 Marcus Foligno
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 22 Johan Larsson – 65 Brian Flynn
23 Ville Leino – 8 Cody McCormick – 21 Drew Stafford

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 3 Mark Pysyk
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
4 Jamie McBain – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
61 Nikita Zadorov – 32 John Scott

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Friday, 11.01.2013 / 3:08 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS
      Corey Tropp

The Buffalo Sabres have options and they might try some new ones on offense.

Corey Tropp and Patrick Kaleta are both available to return Saturday night against the Anaheim Ducks, according to coach Ron Rolston. Their returns could shake up the lineup.

Tropp is set to come off the non-roster injured list as his broken jaw has healed while Kaleta has finished serving a 10-game suspension by the NHL for an illegal check to the head of Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson.

After Buffalo’s 2-0 loss on the road to the New York Rangers on Thursday, Rolston said that bringing in a competitive player like Tropp, specifically, would make for some tough decisions for the coaching staff.

Tropp has not played in an NHL game since the end of the 2011-12 season. He injured his knee in the Amerks season opener last year and missed 72 games because of it. He’s been out since Sept. 22 with the broken jaw.

“I can’t try to get back what I lost in one game, but I just have to go out and do what I’ve always done,” he said after practice at First Niagara Center. “I think playing hard and creating chances and kind of running around, putting pressure on the D and forcing opportunities that way. If I do that, I’ll think I’ll be doing my job.”

Rolston coached Tropp when both were with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League two seasons ago.

“He’s got a good attitude, but it’s probably going to take him a little bit, too, to get to where he wants to be, I would imagine,” Rolston said. “But just on the ice you can see the energy he brings to the table for us.”

For Tropp to be in the lineup, Rolston said a roster move would have to be made on Friday to get down to 23 players by Saturday.

Kaleta, meanwhile, said he is ready to return as well and is looking forward to the opportunity to suit up in a game again.

“It’s been a bit of a long road here, but I’ve been working pretty hard,” he said. “I’m just going to try to infuse some energy into the lineup and bring hard work, hard work, some hard work, try to play passionate and like I said, bring some hard work.”

Tropp also preached the necessity of putting in a solid effort every shift, particularly when it comes to exciting the fan base.

“I think this is a city where if you’re working hard, that’s all they ask. It doesn’t matter if you’re winning or losing. They’ll respect us a club if we’re coming out every night and competing our tails off,” he said. “I think that’s the message that needs to be sent. We might not win every single game, but if as long as everyone’s effort’s there every single night, we gotta leave the rink feeling good about ourselves. We’ve gotta find a way.”


Rolston provided an update on rookie right wing Joel Armia, who broke his hand in a preseason game on Sept. 25. Rolston said Armia is about a week away from returning and that he would likely be assigned to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.


26 Matt Moulson – 19 Cody Hodgson – 63 Tyler Ennis
9 Steve Ott – 82 Marcus Foligno – 78 Corey Tropp
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 22 Johan Larsson – 21 Drew Stafford / 65 Brian Flynn
25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 8 Cody McCormick – 23 Ville Leino / 36 Patrick Kaleta

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 3 Mark Pysyk
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
4 Jamie McBain – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
61 Nikita Zadorov – 32 John Scott

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 10.30.2013 / 3:44 PM
By Craig Kanalley - Social Media Manager / BEYOND THE BOARDS

The newest member of the Buffalo Sabres, Matt Moulson, answered fans questions on Twitter on Wednesday, only about 48 hours after arriving in Buffalo. Moulson answered questions on the official Sabres account in the latest #SabresTwitterview.

Have a look at some other Twitterviews here: Cody Hodgson, Jhonas Enroth.

Read Moulson's responses below.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 10.30.2013 / 3:21 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS
       John Scott

The NHL is cracking down on hits to the head and Sabres forward John Scott will find out first-hand how severely he will be penalized for a hit he put on Boston’s Loui Eriksson on Oct. 23.

Scott faces a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety in New York City on Thursday. The in-person hearing allows for the League to suspend Scott for at least five games. He's already sat out three games.

Since the start of the season, eight players, excluding Scott, have been suspended by the League for a combined 35 games. Four of those suspensions are a result of illegal hits to the head and total 18 games, including a 10-game suspension to the Sabres’ Patrick Kaleta for hitting Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson on Oct. 10.

Kaleta has served nine games of the suspension so far. He will miss his 10 th game on Thursday when the Sabres take on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden at 7 p.m.

“The emphasis right now across all athletics is just the concussion part of things, so that’s been a major focus – any contact to the head, and that comes from the NFL,” Sabres coach Ron Rolston said after practice at First Niagara Center. “The NHL now has put a huge focus on that. It’s kind of been the major topic right now so when it is an emphasis, you’ll see a lot of those calls. They’re trying to get rid of those and also, obviously, the hits from behind along the boards.”

Rolston said that a lot of new systems that have been implemented by teams have led to the increased number of hits that players could be suspended or fined for making. Youth hockey programs are beginning to implement additional penalties for hits to the head and Rolston sees the NHL eventually following suit.

“I think it’ll happen more at our level, too is things get stricter, he said. “And we’ve already see how many guys suspended early on in this season, and the number of games players are missing. Same with the visor now – all the players have to have visors that are coming into the League, so that’s going to change things.

“You hope that over the course of whatever it is, five, 10 years that you’re going to see some of those changes really affect the game in a positive way.”

He also said rule changes made after the lockout that canceled the 2004-05 season brought attention to obstruction, but those penalties aren’t called as much anymore.

“Probably right after the last lockout, the emphasis was a lot on what obstruction, hooking, holding and now that’s back in the game,” he said. “You watch today’s game, it’s completely different from that emphasis coming out of that lockout. So it really becomes what is emphasized and then at that point you see a lot of calls from that emphasis.”

The Sabres are currently fourth in the League in hits with 372. Forward Cody McCormick plays a physical game and likes to see that some of the team’s younger players aren’t afraid to throw the body around either.

“For me, every shift I want to play physical, I want to finish all my hits and just have the other team looking over their shoulder, I guess,” he said. “You see it with the young guys, they’re finishing their hits. They don’t care who they’re playing. They’re finishing their hits on their best players and that’s the best things for us.”

One of those young players, 18-year-old rookie Nikita Zadorov, has been a physical presence for the Sabres. He has 17 hits in five games. Rolston cited some of Zadorov’s play as an example of how players, particularly defensemen, can still make open ice hits without crossing the line.

“I think in Florida there, Zadorov had a couple that were out in the middle of the ice, taking the rush. Again, I think a lot of the system stuff has caused a lot of situations like that,” he said.


26 Matt Moulson – 19 Cody Hodgson – 63 Tyler Ennis
9 Steve Ott – 82 Marcus Foligno – 23 Ville Leino
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 65 Brian Flynn
22 Johan Larsson – 8 Cody McCormick – 21 Drew Stafford
78 Corey Tropp – 36 Patrick Kaleta

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 3 Mark Pysyk
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
4 Jamie McBain – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
61 Nikita Zadorov – 32 John Scott .

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

Power Play

First Unit
Moulson – Hodgson – Ennis
McBain – Ehrhoff

Second Unit
Leino/Grigorenko – Ott – Foligno
Myers – Pysyk/Ristolainen

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 10.29.2013 / 4:03 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS
       Corey Tropp

Corey Tropp is ready to make another comeback. He’s been with the Sabres all year, but is currently on the non-roster injured list as he recovers from a broken jaw.

Tropp said that he’s taking it one day at a time and that it’s ultimately up to the coaching staff to make the decision on when he’ll be back in the lineup. Sabres coach Ron Rolston said after practice at First Niagara Center that Tropp could possibly return for team’s game on Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks.

The broken jaw is not the first major injury he’s had to recover from in the last 12 months.

Tropp sustained a knee injury in the first game of the 2012-13 season with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League. He missed 72 games but returned to the lineup at the end of the year and was able to get a good sense of where he was physically after the injury.

He worked over the summer to improve on all aspects of his game, particularly his skating. Then he fought with Maple Leafs forward Jamie Devane in the Sabres preseason game on Sept. 22 and broke his jaw. To say he's looking forward to getting back on the ice would be an understatement.

“It’s been a real humbling experience,” Tropp said. “It definitely makes you appreciate the game way more. It’s definitely something that when it does happen [playing again], I’m going to be real excited and it’s going to be constant effort like usual and continue to push forward. Hopefully a couple of years down the road, when I look at this last year, [I can] just look at it as a bump in the road.”

WATCH: COREY TROPP INTERVIEW

Tropp has been skating with the team over the last week or so, but Tuesday marked the first practice in which he did not wear a red non-contact jersey. He still has to be fully cleared by the team’s medical staff and will miss the team’s game against the New York Rangers on Thursday.

He hasn’t played in a regular-season NHL game since the end of the 2011-12 season.

“I joked I might be a little bit emotional because it’s kind of been through hell and back to get back into an NHL game,” he said. “There are some days when you sit there and wonder if it’s ever going to happen again or if you’re going to get back there.”

However, he said he’s been working on staying positive and trying to improve in all aspects of his game while he’s been sidelined.

“When that night comes that I do get back in there, it’s going to be pretty special,” he said. “It’s going to be a special feeling.”

Rolston can see that Tropp is itching to get back into a game.

“I think he’s real hungry. He’s a hungry player to start,” Rolston said. “We were talking out there, you take for granted your health sometimes and he’s had a tough year-and-a-half really. So I think his hunger to be back and you can just tell the energy that he has out there that he’s ready to go.”

Tropp skated as an extra forward at practice, rotating in and out of a line that featured Cody Hodgson, Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis.


Moulson skated in his first game with the Sabres on Monday after being acquired from the New York Islanders for Thomas Vanek.

He made quite the first impression, scoring two goals on that line with Hodgson and Ennis. Moulson worked with them again in practice on Tuesday and in some power-play drills as well.

“It’s good to get as many reps as you can with new guys and understand how they play,” Moulson said. “I feel like I’m a guy who tries to read off other players and get open for them and try to figure out what they’re trying to do out there. So the more practices, the better.”

GREAT SEATS AVAILABLE FOR SATURDAY'S GAME VS. ANAHEIM

Moulson made himself pretty open for Ennis at the start of the game Monday. His first goal, which came 3:26 into the game, was the result of a heads-up play by Ennis on the rush. As Ennis skated in down the left wing, he looked to take a slap shot, but then fed the puck over to Moulson in the slot.

Moulson made no mistake, capitalizing on his first shot in a Sabres uniform.

“I was going to shoot it originally and then I saw Matty kind of eyed up and I saw his stick and I was thinking if I could hit him for a goal, it would be a nice way to start,” Ennis said. “He did a good job opening up for me. That was a goal scorer’s move by him.”


26 Matt Moulson – 19 Cody Hodgson – 63 Tyler Ennis
9 Steve Ott – 82 Marcus Foligno – 23 Ville Leino
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 65 Brian Flynn
22 Johan Larsson – 8 Cody McCormick – 21 Drew Stafford
78 Corey Tropp – 36 Patrick Kaleta

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 3 Mark Pysyk
61 Nikita Zadorov – 57 Tyler Myers
20 Henrik Tallinder – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
32 John Scott – 4 Jamie McBain

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Thursday, 10.24.2013 / 1:18 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Ville Leino and Cody McCormick will make the trip to Florida with the Buffalo Sabres for the team’s pair of games in the Sunshine State this weekend.

Both forwards are currently on injured reserve and roster moves will have to be made in order to activate one or both of them.

Sabres coach Ron Rolston said that McCormick is ready to play while they’re still evaluating Leino. Rolston also said that a roster move would be made today but was not ready to announce what it would be.

The Buffalo Sabres can only have 23 players on their active roster and two of their three scratches at the moment are taken up by forwards who cannot play. Patrick Kaleta is serving a 10-game suspension that he is appealing and John Scott has a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety for a check he made Wednesday on Bruins forward Loui Eriksson.

UPDATE: KALETA SUSPENSION UPHELD BY NHL

“It’s two roster spots that are basically with guys who can’t play for you, so sure, it affects things,” Rolston said.

The Sabres play the Florida Panthers on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday at 7 p.m. Jhonas Enroth will start one of those games, according to Rolston.


Also on the injury front, forward Corey Tropp continues to skate with the team, albeit in a red non-contact jersey and a full face shield as he works his way back from a broken jaw. Rolston said he is “on a good path” and they’re waiting for him to be cleared for contact by team doctors.

Rookie Joel Armia, who broke his hand in the preseason on Sept. 25, is not skating with the team, but is making progress as well.

“He’s just in the stages now where he can basically have a stick in his hand and actually stickhandle a puck, that sort of thing,” Rolston said. “He’s close, but he’s still probably a week or two away in terms of doing everything that he needs to do and being confident in it and his hand.”


Even with the team’s 1-9-1 start, Rolston said that he, general manager Darcy Regier and owner Terry Pegula are all still on the same page.

“We’ve had the same plan the whole time in terms of what we talked about and playing young players,” Rolston said. “Again, we’ve committed to that and that’s what we’re doing right now. We have continued to put the young guys in there and going along with the plan that we have.”


26 Thomas Vanek – 19 Cody Hodgson – 65 Brian Flynn
9 Steve Ott – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 82 Marcus Foligno
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 22 Johan Larsson – 63 Tyler Ennis
21 Drew Stafford – 8 Cody McCormick – 23 Ville Leino
32 John Scott – 12 Kevin Porter – 36 Patrick Kaleta
78 Corey Tropp (red non-contact jersey)

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 3 Mark Pysyk
61 Nikita Zadorov – 57 Tyler Myers
20 Henrik Tallinder – 4 Jamie McBain
6 Mike Weber – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 10.22.2013 / 2:53 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

The past two days, the Buffalo Sabres have been able to take advantage of a rare break in the schedule to take on a pair of focused practice sessions.

On Monday, the team worked on defensive zone play and moving the puck up ice. Tuesday, their attention turned to the offense and the power play. Practice started with a three-on-three game in the neutral zone between the forwards with the nets turned along the boards.

Players appeared to be more vocal than in previous practices and coach Ron Rolston said fostering that type of environment is important.

“We tried to today to create different atmospheres for that,” he said after practice at First Niagara Center. “That’s our job to continue to do that and get that mindset in practice so they come out there and right away, they’re engaged in the practice so we don’t start slow.”

Right now, just stay positive. Get back to the basics and go from there.Marcus Foligno

Slow starts have been an issue for the team this season. Through 10 games, they’ve been outshot 138-77 in first periods alone. Buffalo has been outshot 33-10 in the first period in each of their past two games as well.

“We’ve talked about it a lot. I think everyone’s aware of it now,” Rolston said. “It’s just being able to go out early on and do it. We talked about it today even at the start of practice. That’s why we started with a game today in practice. It’s been a focus of ours and it’s a mindset that the guys have to have.”

In addition to having better starts, the players are working on maintaining a positive outlook, despite the team’s 1-8-1 record.

“With a lot of young guys, we’ve just got to stick together,” Marcus Foligno said. “That’s the biggest thing. You can’t pout, get negative. It’s just going to spread and definitely take this team down even further. Right now, just stay positive. Get back to the basics and go from there.”


The first power-play unit featured a slightly different look as it featured four forwards. Foligno, Thomas Vanek, Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis joined defenseman Christian Ehrhoff on the unit for special teams work. Foligno worked primarily as the center and Hodgson shifted in and out on the left point.

“It puts a little more onus on Ennis and myself to play defense if something breaks down, but that’s not a problem,” Hodgson said. “I think putting Marcus in the middle is going to help us because he’s got such a cannon of a shot. He’s going to pull guys to the middle more.”

The second power-play unit comprised of Mikhail Grigorenko, Steve Ott, Drew Stafford, Jamie McBain and Tyler Myers.


Ville Leino skated again with the team. He’s still on the injured reserve list as he recovers from a cracked rib sustained on Oct. 2 and the coaching staff continues to monitor his progress.

“He looks like he’s moving around well right now,” Rolston said. “We haven’t had a lot of pounding yet, but that’s going to come, so we’re trying to get him in shape too, in terms of game shape and skating shape again.”


26 Thomas Vanek – 19 Cody Hodgson – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 82 Marcus Foligno – 63 Tyler Ennis
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 22 Johan Larsson – 65 Brian Flynn
32 John Scott – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 12 Kevin Porter
23 Ville Leino – 8 Cody McCormick – 36 Patrick Kaleta
78 Corey Tropp (non-contact)

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 3 Mark Pysyk
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
61 Nikita Zadorov – 4 Jamie McBain
6 Mike Weber – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Monday, 10.21.2013 / 2:11 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS
     Ville Leino

A trio of injured players returned to practice for the Buffalo Sabres on Monday at First Niagara Center.

Ville Leino and Corey Tropp skated with the team for the first time in a few weeks. Cody McCormick was back on the ice as well as he recovers from a lower-body injury sustained while blocking a shot Thursday night against the Vancouver Canucks.

Leino, who has been out since leaving the season opener on Oct. 2 with a cracked rib, was a full participant in practice and rotated in and out with McCormick on the fourth line during some drills. Tropp was limited and skated in a red non-contact jersey and a full face-shield as he recovers from a broken jaw.

“You want to be out there. You want to help the team. You want to see the team succeed so that hasn’t been a fun part, definitely,” Leino said. “It’s been a little bit of a struggle here, so hopefully I can get back soon and help the team.”

Leino, currently on the injured reserve list, said he's day-to-day and hopes to be ready to go by the end of the week "at the latest." Sabres coach Ron Rolston said Leino’s return date hinges on how he practices moving forward and how he responds to contact.

McCormick is in a similar spot, according to Rolston. McCormick did not play Saturday against Colorado.

“He’s in the same boat,” Rolston said. “He still has a lot of soreness and stiffness and stuff, so we’re monitoring him too.”

The practice was the first for Tropp since he broke his jaw in a fight with Toronto’s Jamie Devane in a preseason game on Sept. 22.

“That’s part of the game,” Tropp said of the fight. “It happens. Obviously he got the better half of me on that one, but it is what is. He’s a good player and that’s all it is.”

Tropp said he had his jaw wired shut for 10 days after the fight, but has been skating and working out for the last 2.5 weeks. Rolston said Tropp is likely a few weeks away from being cleared for contact.


Rookie defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen was back at practice with the Sabres, too. He was sent down to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League a few hours before Buffalo’s game on Saturday and was officially recalled Monday morning.

Ristolainen’s recall puts the Sabres one player over the 23-man roster limit. Rolston said a roster move is coming and it’s likely someone would be put on the injured reserve list.

Christian Ehrhoff was given a maintenance day and did not skate. To give the Sabres an even number of defensemen in practice, John Scott suited up on the blue line.

Patrick Kaleta was absent as well as he appeals his 10-game suspension.


26 Thomas Vanek – 19 Cody Hodgson – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 82 Marcus Foligno – 63 Tyler Ennis
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 22 Johan Larsson – 65 Brian Flynn
12 Kevin Porter – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 8 Cody McCormick / 23 Ville Leino
78 Corey Tropp

61 Nikita Zadorov – 3 Mark Pysyk
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain
32 John Scott – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Friday, 10.18.2013 / 3:45 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

After an hour-long practice at First Niagara Center, the Sabres huddled up at center ice. It looked like practice was about to wrap up, but then rookie defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen stood up, skated to the middle of the circle and started dancing.

When he went to back to take a knee, rookie center Johan Larsson skated in and took a turn, receiving stick taps from his teammates.

Rookies Zemgus Girgensons, Mark Pysyk, Nikita Zadorov, Brian Flynn and Mikhail Grigorenko also joined the dance party, showing off their moves in a pseudo rite of passage.

“Sometimes you just have to add something that loosens things up,” goaltender Ryan Miller said after practice. “Everybody can recognize it’s a little tense here, so it’s a fun chance to embarrass the rookies. At any turn, we’re going to take advantage of that. You only get one crack at them when they’re rookies, so you’ve gotta do it.”

WATCH: ROOKIE DANCE-OFF

The Sabres are 1-7-1 this season and coming off a 3-0 shutout loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. Co-captain Steve Ott said that having moments like that after practice are important, especially for the younger players.

“The ups and downs are what you try to get out of your game. Obviously around here anytime you’re losing or not having success, it’s hard times,” he said. “You need things to kind of pick your spirits up and we have so many young guys in this dressing room that we try to continue to keep the mood light.”

So which rookie had the best dance routine? Tyler Ennis’ vote went to Girgensons.

“He was a doing a little Miley Cyrus it looked like on skates,” Ennis said. “So that might be the first time that’s ever been done.”

WATCH: GIRGENSONS' DANCE


During practice, the Sabres focused on breakouts and moving the puck up the ice quickly. Keeping the puck out of their defensive zone will be a challenge against the next opponent, the Colorado Avalanche. Buffalo hosts Colorado on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Avalanche are tied for sixth in the League with 23 goals for.

TICKETS FOR SATURDAY VS. COLORADO

“It’s early in the season, but the changes have to be made and we made a little tweak on the neutral zone [entries] today,” Ennis said. “That’s hopefully going to get us a little bit more speed through the neutral zone.”


Cody McCormick did not skate and Sabres coach Ron Rolston said he was day-to-day. McCormick blocked a Jason Garrison slap shot during the game against the Canucks and was still feeling the effects of it.

Girgensons was a full-participant in practice after missing the game on Thursday. A puck deflected up and hit him near his left eye on Tuesday and stitches were required to repair the wound.

Swelling on the eye had come noticeably down by the time of practice on Friday. Rolston said Girgensons should be ready to go against the Avalanche on Saturday.

WATCH: RYAN MILLER INTERVIEW

Zadorov practiced with the team as he recovers from a lacerated finger he sustained in the preseason. Rolston said they would like to use the 18-year-old Russian defenseman in a game before making the decision to send him back to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League or not.

As for when that first NHL game might come for Zadorov, Rolston said “anytime is possible for him.”

On injured forwards Joel Armia (broken hand), Corey Tropp (broken jaw) and Ville Leino (cracked rib), Rolston said they’re all at least two weeks away from being close to game action.

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