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POSTED ON Monday, 03.26.2012 / 1:05 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / BEYOND THE BOARDS
Tuesday’s game in Washington marks game 77 of the 2011-12 season for the Buffalo Sabres, and it’s number 1,144 on the league calendar. But regardless of how you spin it, this will not have the feel of just another mid-week game.

“To say it’s a big game is an understatement,” said Robyn Regehr. “It’s the biggest game we’ve faced all year.”

The Sabres head into the Verizon Center tied with the Capitals in points at 84, but occupy ninth place by virtue of the tiebreaker. The calendar may say March, but this is definitely going to have a playoff-like atmosphere.

“To be honest, every game since I’ve been up here has felt like a playoff game,” said rookie Corey Tropp.

Even the veterans like Thomas Vanek know what Tropp is talking about.

“Every game has had a playoff feel to it,” said Vanek. “It’s been like that since January.”

Head coach Lindy Ruff says there’s not much that he needs to say to his team at this point, because they know exactly what’s at stake.

“It’s an opportunity that we’ve worked hard for,” explained Ruff. “You get to play the team that’s right there in the standings with you. It’s big points for both teams.

To say it’s a big game is an understatement. It’s the biggest game we’ve faced all year. - Robyn Regehr
“It’s a big game obviously for us, but we’ve got (five) more games left after that. It’s not the end of the world. We know we need to play well. We know they’ve played better as of late. Ovechkin’s played better of late. I don’t think I have to sell anything. They know where they’re at. They understand where we can get to, and how big the two points are. I shouldn’t have to sell it this time of year.” 



Ruff said that Patrick Kaleta and Nathan Gerbe have been cleared to play, and would be available to the team on Tuesday. Gerbe has missed the last six games with an upper body muscle strain, while Kaleta has been out for the past three games with a hand injury.



For the second time in the past three weeks, Ryan Miller was recognized by the NHL as one of the “Stars of the Week.” Miller was named the league’s second star for the past week, joining Evegni Malkin (first) and Alex Ovechkin (third)  in receiving the weekly honors.

Miller led the NHL with four wins last week, posting a 1.26 goals-against average and .956 save percentage during Buffalo’s four-game winning streak. He made 24 stops in a 7-3 victory at the Tampa Bay Lightning March 19, recorded his career-high sixth shutout of the season in a 3-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens March 21, stopped 26 shots in a 4-1 triumph at the New York Rangers March 23 and closed the week with 24 saves in a 3-1 victory against the Minnesota Wild March 24. The 2009-10 Vezina Trophy winner is 29-18-7 with a 2.48 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in 56 appearances.


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POSTED ON Friday, 03.23.2012 / 12:21 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

LINEUP NEWS
- Optional morning skate today; Lindy Ruff didn’t speak to the media this morning.
- Ryan Miller expected to start in goal; 12-5-4 all-time vs. NYR, 2.26 GAA & .925 save%
- Miller is 6-2-2 all-time at MSG: 2.35 GAA/.923 save%
- Nathan Gerbe remains out with an upper body muscle strain.



SCHEDULE BREAKDOWN
Washington – 8th place (81 pts., 37-30-7)
Games Remaining: 8
Games vs. Teams Currently in Playoff Contention: 3
Next Game: Tonight vs. Winnipeg
Home Games: 5 (WPG, MINN, BUF, MTL, FLA)
Away Games: 3 (BOS, TB, NYR)
Back-to-Back Games: 1 (3/22 @ PHIL, 3/23 vs. WPG)
Last Game: April 7 @ NY Rangers

Buffalo – 9th place (80 pts., 35-29-10)
Games Remaining: 8
Games vs. Teams Currently in Playoff Contention: 5
Next Game: Tonight @ NY Rangers
Home Games: 3 (MINN, PITT, TOR)
Away Games: 5 (NYR, WASH, TOR, PHIL, BOS)
Back-to-Back Games: 2 (3/23 @ NYR, 3/24 @ MINN; 3/30 VS. PITT, 3/31 @ TOR)
Last Game: April 7 @ Boston

Winnipeg – 10th place (76 pts., 34-31-8)
Games Remaining: 9
Games vs. Teams Currently in Playoff Contention: 5
Next Game: Tonight @ Washington
Home Games: 3 (OTT, NYR, TB)
Away Games: 6 (WASH, NASH, CAR, TB, FLA, NYI)
Back-to-Back Games: 2 (3/23 @ WSH, 3/24 @ NSH; 3/30 @ CAR, 3/31 @ TB)
Last Game: April 7 vs. Tampa Bay



TONIGHT’S GAME
SABRES at RANGERS

- Fourth and final meeting between the Sabres and Rangers this season.
- Last game: New York defeated Buffalo, 3-2 (OT), in New York on Feb. 25.
- The Sabres are 5-2-3 in their last 10 games vs. the Rangers; 5-3-2 on the road.
- 162nd game all-time between Sabres and Rangers; Buffalo leads the series with a 76-53-32 record. Buffalo is 30-30-19 on the road against the Rangers all-time.

STORYLINES
- Buffalo enters the day one point out of a playoff spot after beginning the day on Feb. 17 in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 10 points out of eighth in the Eastern Conference. Since then, they’ve gone 11-2-4 (.765), trailing only Pittsburgh for the league's best record during that stretch.
- The Sabres have gotten a point in seven of their last eight games (5-1-2) and 15 of their last 17 (11-2-4).
- Buffalo will look to avoid a season sweep by the Rangers for the first time since 2007-08 (0-3-1).
- Drew Stafford (2+0) and Thomas Vanek (1+1) each have two points in two games against the Rangers this season. Ryan Miller is 12-5-4 against New York in his career with a 2.27 GAA (0-0-2, 1.41 GAA this year).

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Buffalo is 28-3-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 26-4-4 when scoring three or more… Ryan Miller has five shutouts in his last 23 games; his total of six this season is a career best, after he registered five in each of the last three seasons… Cody Hodgson has four points (2+2) in his last two games; Jason Pominville has five points (3+2) in his last five.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Cody Hodgson is on pace to play 83 games this season, including 48 on the road. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Hodgson’s 48 road games in one season would be an NHL record. The current record is 47, held by Darryl Sydor (1995-96) and Niklas Hagman (2005-06). The most road games by a player who spent part of the season in Buffalo is currently 46 (Mike Foligno, 1981-82).

LET'S PLAY TWO
Tonight’s game opens up Buffalo’s 20th of a league-high 21 sets of back-to-back games this season. The Sabres are 12-7-0 in the first game and 6-8-5 in the second. The Sabres’ points breakdown in back-to-back sets is as follows: four points (3), three points (2), two points (10), one point (3) and zero points (1). Buffalo continues this set tomorrow vs. Minnesota.

EVERYBODY’S CHIPPING IN
The Sabres have gotten goals from 28 different scorers this season, second most in the league (Columbus, 30). The Sabres last had 28 or more goal scorers in 1992-93, when they had 29. Buffalo’s franchise record is 30, set in 1986-87 and matched in 1987-88 and 1991-92.

JUST HOW HE DREW IT UP
Drew Stafford has nine points (2+7) in his last five games. The most prolific five-game stretch of Stafford’s career saw him notch 10 points (9+1) from Feb. 5 to Feb. 15, 2011. The only other time he had at least nine points in five games was from Jan. 18 to Jan. 29, 2008 (5+4).

ENNIS IS ON FIRE
Tyler Ennis has 17 points (7+10) in his last 18 games. The Sabres are 12-1-5 when Ennis records a point this season and 39-9-9 when he tallies a point in his career.

FINISHING STRONG AFTER THE BREAK
Buffalo is 541-400-185 (.563) all-time in games after the All-Star break. This includes a record of 90-47-23 (.634) in those games since the lockout. The Sabres are 15-5-5 (.700) since the 2012 NHL All-Star Game. These totals do not include games after breaks for the Olympic Games.

BATTLING BACK
The Sabres began the day on Feb. 17 in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 10 points out of a playoff spot after a 7-2 loss at PHI the night before. Since then, the team has gone 11-2-4. Only one team in NHL history has overcome a 10 point deficit this late in the season, when the New York Islanders rallied from a 10-point hole on Feb. 18, 1994 to snag eighth place in the conference.
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POSTED ON Thursday, 03.22.2012 / 3:42 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Just because the finish line is finally within sight, it doesn’t mean the Buffalo Sabres will be easing up on the accelerator anytime soon. That’s the overwhelming sentiment coming out of the locker room following Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over Montreal.

The win allowed the Sabres to pull even with Washington at 80 points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but the Capitals hold the first tiebreaker over Buffalo. The Capitals have 35 combined regulation and overtime wins (ROW) this season to Buffalo’s 28.

(Long story short: if the two teams remain tied after the final day of the season, all the Capitals will need is two more regulation or overtime wins in their final nine games to clinch the tiebreaker.)

Simply getting within shooting distance of eighth place is only the first step in a long climb back to respectability for a Sabres team that sat in 14th place as recently as February 16, after being manhandled 7-2 by the Philadelphia Flyers that night.

“We haven’t done anything yet, and that’s the point we’re trying to make,” said head coach Lindy Ruff. “We’ve worked hard to get to this spot, but we don’t have anything. We know how tough the schedule is ahead of us. We can’t take a game for granted.

“There’s teams around you. Winnipeg is right there with Washington, and Carolina has actually moved up a little bit. We haven’t achieved anything; we know that as a team. We know that we’re gonna have to win some games that some people may expect to be too tough of a task for us.

While many point to the return to form of goaltender Ryan Miller as the catalyst for the team’s turnaround, veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr says the entire team’s play has become solidified in all facets.

“We’ve done a better job offensively in capitalizing. And I think we’ve done a better job defensively too – from the goaltenders on out to the defensemen and forwards. So there’s lots of things. All those little things that we keep talking about, those help the team win games.

“With a team in team sports, there’s a lot of moving parts to winning a game. It’s going out and playing the game plan and executing. It’s making sure you have the guys in the lineup to do that. It’s putting in the work and preparation. It all adds up to good positive stuff and wins.”



Ruff said that Nathan Gerbe is finally making some progress in his recovery from an upper body muscle strain that has kept him out of the lineup for the past four games. He will remain in Buffalo and skate on his own while the team travels to New York for Friday’s 7 p.m. game against the Rangers.
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 03.21.2012 / 12:05 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

LINEUP NEWS
- Patrick Kaleta will not play; he is day-to-day with an upper body injury
- Travis Turnbull will make his NHL debut on the RW with Boyes & McCormick
- Ryan Miller gets the start in goal; 22-8-6 all-time vs. MTL; 2.26 GAA & .923 save%
- Tyler Myers returns to the lineup after serving his three-game suspension.
- Nathan Gerbe remains day-to-day with an upper body muscle strain.

WHAT THE COACH SAID TODAY
Lindy Ruff (listen to the full audio)
Is Pat Kaleta suffering from that neck injury again?
No; nothing to do with the neck. He’ll be out. He suffered an upper body injury. He’s probably more than day-to-day.

Are you going to go with seven defensemen tonight or will you use Travis Turnbull?
Turnbull’s gonna play, so we’ll go with six.

What have you liked about Turnbull’s game in Rochester?
It’s more of what we’ve got from Ron (Rolston) in Rochester. Replacing Patty with Turnbull, we’re replacing the same type of player: agitator, scrappy kid that plays on the edge. He’s really played hard down there. You bring him in, and we were looking for a fourth line role, there were a couple of choices but Ron thought he’d be the best guy for us. It’s sort of a win-win. He’s got good hands and good speed. A real competitive kid. He’ll fit right in where he’s playing.

TONIGHT’S GAME
CANADIENS at SABRES

- Sixth and final meeting between the Sabres and Canadiens this season.
- Last meeting: Buffalo defeated Montreal, 3-2 (OT), in Buffalo on March 12.
- The Sabres are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Canadiens; 6-2-2 at home.
- 253rd game all-time between Buffalo and Montreal; the Sabres are 115-100-37 against the Canadiens (67-34-24 at home).

STORYLINES
- Buffalo enters the day two points out of a playoff spot after beginning the day on Feb. 17 in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 10 points out of eighth in the Eastern Conference.
- The Sabres have gotten a point in six of their last seven games (4-1-2) and 14 of their last 16 (10-2-4).
- Buffalo has points in their last seven home games (5-0-2). Their best stretch this year was 10 games, from Dec. 13 to Feb. 10 (6-0-4).
- The Sabres are 11-5-4 against the Northeast Division this season, including a 4-0-1 record against the Canadiens. Buffalo has gone 7-0-1 in their last seven against the Habs, dating back to Nov. 27, 2010.
- Derek Roy has six points (1+5) against the Canadiens this season and leads all Sabres with 36 points (12+24) in 46 career games against the Habs.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Tyler Myers returns from a three-game suspension tonight… Buffalo is 27-3-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 25-4-4 when scoring three or more… Jason Pominville is ranked fourth in the league with 42 points (16+26) in 36 home games.

JUST HOW HE DREW IT UP
Drew Stafford has nine points (2+7) in his last four games and is one game away from tying the longest point streak of his career (4x, last: 10/13/09 vs. DET to 10/24/09 at TBL). The most prolific five-game stretch of Stafford’s career saw him notch 10 points (9+1) from Feb. 5 to Feb. 15, 2011. The only other time he had at least nine points in five games was from Jan. 18 to Jan. 29, 2008 (5+4).

WORKING OVERTIME
The Sabres lead the league with 21 overtime games, including an NHL-high 14 at home. Entering tonight, Buffalo has seen four straight home games (3-0-1) go to extra time for the fourth time in franchise history (last: Jan. 27 to Feb. 25, 1998). The franchise record for most overtime home games in a season was set in 1990-91, when the Sabres went 2-2-12 in 16 games.

ENNIS IS ON FIRE
Tyler Ennis has points in each of his last five games (4+5), tying his career-best point streak (last: Feb. 4 to March 3, 2012). Ennis now has 17 points (7+10) in his last 17 games. The Sabres are 12-1-5 when Ennis records a point this season and 39-9-9 when he tallies a point in his career.

MAKING THE JUMP
Marcus Foligno has seven points (5+2) and a plus-6 rating in five games since his recall on March 9. Prior to this recall, Foligno had only played one NHL game. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Phil Housley (9) and Ray Sheppard (7) are the only other Sabres in franchise history to have scored seven or more points in their first six career games. Among active NHL players, only two others (Evgeni Malkin and Teemu Selanne) had five or more goals in their first six games.

FINISHING STRONG AFTER THE BREAK
Buffalo is 539-400-185 (.562) all-time in games after the All-Star break. This includes a record of 88-47-23 (.630) in those games since the lockout. The Sabres are 13-5-5 (.674) since the 2012 NHL All-Star Game. These totals do not include games after breaks for the Olympic Games.

BATTLING BACK
The Sabres began the day on Feb. 17 in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 10 points out of a playoff spot after a 7-2 loss at PHI the night before. Since then, the team has gone 10-2-4. Only one team in NHL history has overcome a 10 point deficit this late in the season, when the New York Islanders rallied from a 10-point hole on Feb. 18, 1994 to snag eighth place in the conference.
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POSTED ON Monday, 03.19.2012 / 1:08 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

LINEUP NEWS
- No lineup changes for tonight’s game.
- Ryan Miller is expected to get the start in goal; 17-7 all-time vs. TB, 2.74 GAA & .906 save%
- Tyler Myers will serve the final game of his three-game suspension.
- Nathan Gerbe remains day-to-day with an upper body muscle strain.

WHAT THE COACH SAID TODAY
Lindy Ruff (listen to the full audio)
It must feel good to know you got some help in the standings last night?
At this time of year there are nights you get disappointed, and nights when you get pretty excited. Last night was a night where Carolina scores a late goal, and you can relate to the pain. But you can go to bed with a smile on your face knowing those are two big points we can go after tonight, and try to get up the standings.

What’s the biggest challenge you face with the Lightning?
Obviously you point to Stamkos as number one. And I think St. Louis is a big part of what goes on on the ice. But Stamkos has had a heck of a year again, and he’s a guy that can win a game himself. We’ve gotta make sure we don’t let him in behind us. Their power play is still dangerous, and Stamkos can get himself in a position to shoot two or three times each power play.



SCHEDULE BREAKDOWN
Washington – 8th place (78 pts., 36-30-6)
Games Remaining: 10
Next Game: Tonight @ Detroit
Home Games: 5 (WPG, MINN, BUF, MTL, FLA)
Away Games: 5 (DET, PHIL, BOS, TB, NYR)
Back-to-Back Games: 1 (3/22 @ PHIL, 3/23 vs. WPG)
Last Game: April 7 @ NY Rangers

Winnipeg – 9th place (76 pts., 34-30-8)
Games Remaining: 10
Next Game: Tuesday @ Pittsburgh
Home Games: 3 (OTT, NYR, TB)
Away Games: 7 (PHIL, WASH, NASH, CAR, TB, FLA, NYI)
Back-to-Back Games: 2 (3/23 @ WSH, 3/24 @ NSH; 3/30 @ CAR, 3/31 @ TB)
Last Game: April 7 vs. Tampa Bay

Buffalo – 10th place (76 pts., 33-29-10)
Games Remaining: 10
Next Game: Tonight @ Tampa Bay
Home Games: 4 (MTL, MINN, PITT, TOR)
Away Games: 6 (TB, NYR, WASH, TOR, PHIL, BOS)
Back-to-Back Games: 2 (3/23 @ NYR, 3/24 vs. MINN; 3/30 vs. PITT, 3/31 @ TOR)
Last Game: April 7 @ Boston



TONIGHT’S GAME
SABRES at LIGHTNING
-Fourth and final meeting between the Sabres and Lightning this season.
-Last meeting: Tampa Bay defeated Buffalo, 2-1, in Buffalo on Feb. 11.
-The Sabres are 5-5-0 in their last 10 games vs. the Lightning; 7-3-0 on the road.
-This is the 74th game all-time between Buffalo and Tampa Bay; Buffalo leads the series with a 46-22-5 record. They are 24-9-3 on the road against the Lightning.

STORYLINES
-Buffalo enters the day two points out of a playoff spot after beginning the day on Feb. 17 in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 10 points out of eighth in the Eastern Conference.
-The Sabres have gotten a point in five of their last six games (3-1-2) and 12 of their last 14 (9-2-4).
-Tampa Bay has beaten Buffalo three times for the second time in franchise history (last: 3-0-1 in 2003-04). The Lightning have never swept the season series against the Sabres.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Andrej Sekera led all Sabres in ice time (24:21) in his first game back after missing five games with pneumonia on Saturday at FLA… Drew Stafford has six points (1+5) in his last three games… Buffalo is 27-3-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 24-4-4 when scoring three or more… The Sabres have played an NHL-high 21 overtime games, including their last four and five of their last six… Buffalo is 7-9-2 against the Southeast Division this season; Tampa Bay is 7-9-0 against the Northeast.

LEADING THE WAY AGAINST TAMPA BAY
Four Sabres (Boyes, Pominville, Roy, Vanek) average more than a point per game against the Lightning in their careers… Ryan Miller is 17-7-0 all-time against TBL with a 2.74 GAA… Jason Pominville leads all Sabres with 33 career points (14+19) in 26 games against TBL … Thomas Vanek leads the team with 23 goals in only 27 games against TBL, two shy of his career-best 25 against Boston (42 GP).

ENNIS IS ON FIRE
Tyler Ennis has points in each of his last four games (4+3), one game short of his career-best five (Feb. 4 to March 3, 2012). Ennis now has 15 points (7+8) in his last 16 games. The Sabres are 11-1-5 when Ennis records a point this season and 38-9-9 when he tallies a point in his career.


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POSTED ON Saturday, 03.17.2012 / 12:47 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

MORNING SKATE LINES
Tropp-Roy-Pominville
Stafford-Ennis-Foligno
Vanek-Hodgson-Leino
McCormick-Boyes-Kaleta

LINEUP NEWS
- Tyler Myers will serve the second game of his three-game suspension
- Ryan Miller is expected to get the start in goal.
- Andrej Sekera returns after missing five games; Brayden McNabb will sit out
- Nathan Gerbe is out with an upper body injury

WHAT THEY SAID TODAY
*Lindy Ruff (listen to the full audio)
*Andrej Sekera (listen to the full audio)

TONIGHT’S GAME
SABRES at PANTHERS

-This is the fourth and final meeting between the Sabres and Panthers this season.
-Last meeting: Buffalo defeated Florida, 2-1 (OT), in Buffalo on Dec. 9.
-The Sabres are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games vs. the Panthers; 8-2-0 on the road.
-This is the 72nd game all-time between Buffalo and Florida; Buffalo leads the series with a 42-25-4 record. Buffalo is 24-10-3 at home against the Panthers all-time.

STORYLINES
- Buffalo enters the day three points out of a playoff spot after beginning the day on Feb. 17 in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 10 points out of eighth in the Eastern Conference.
- Ryan Miller is 2-1-0 against Florida this season with a 1.33 GAA and a .951 SV%. Miller was won four of his last five games against the Panthers and is 13-8-0 against them in his career with a 2.30 GAA and a .921 SV%.
-Jason Pominville leads all Sabres with 27 points (11+16) in 26 career games against the Panthers, including five (3+2) in three games this season. Pominville has points in six straight games against the Panthers (5+6).

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Alexander Sulzer scored his second career goal (first this season) on Wednesday vs. COL… Drew Stafford has five points (1+4) in his last two games… Buffalo is 27-3-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 24-4-4 when scoring three or more.

ENNIS IS ON FIRE
Tyler Ennis has points in each of his last three games (3+3) and has 14 points (6+8) in his last 15 games. The Sabres are 11-1-4 when Ennis records a point this season and 38-9-8 when he tallies a point in his career. With three assists on Wednesday vs. COL, Ennis recorded his fourth career three-point game. Hehas also won 60.7% of his faceoffs since his switch back to center three games ago.

MAKING THE JUMP
Marcus Foligno recorded his first career goal on Saturday at OTT and then followed that up with his first assist on Monday vs. MTL. After a two-goal game on Wednesday vs. COL, Foligno now has four points (3+1) a plus-4 rating in three games since his recall on March 9. Prior to this recall, Foligno had only played one NHL game. In his first professional season, he has 34 points (14+20) in 55 games in the AHL.

IT’S MILLER TIME
Ryan Miller is 9-1-2 in his last 12 games with a .940 save percentage and a 1.95 goals against average, and 14-3-4 in his last 22 games with a 1.93 goals against average and a .937 save percentage.


 
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 03.14.2012 / 11:32 AM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

LINEUP NEWS
- Tyler Myers will serve the first game of his three-game suspension
- Brayden McNabb has been recalled on an emergency basis from Rochester.
- Ryan Miller is expected to get the start in goal.
- Andrej Sekera skated today; Ruff hopes to have him back by Saturday.

WHAT THE COACH SAID TODAY
Lindy Ruff (listen to the full audio)
Were you disappointed in the number of games Tyler got?
Yeah, I was surprised, disappointed. I felt that as a first-time offender it was a little harsh.

Is inconsistency the problem with some of these (suspensions)?
I agree. I think that is. One of our players can be basically in an identical situation, and there was nothing. There’s disappointment, but we’ve gotta get by that and get ready to win a game.

What are some of things Ron Rolston has told you about McNabb since he went back down?
He’s been a good defender; and on the offensive side he’s moved the puck well for them. Basically what we saw the first time here. His confidence level was getting fairly high with us, and I thought he played well. We’re looking forward to him stepping up and playing a big game for us.

Sekera was back on the ice today – how close is he to returning?
We’re hoping by the weekend. He’s feeling better. He couldn’t do a normal workout yesterday, and he’s down some weight. We’re just trying to get him back where we’ll get some fitness into him, try and get his weight back to where it needs to be. In the next couple of days push him ahead, and hopefully get him back by Saturday.

TONIGHT’S GAME
AVALANCHE at SABRES

- First and only meeting between the Sabres and Avalanche this season.
- Last meeting: Colorado defeated Buffalo, 4-3 (OT), in Colorado on Jan. 4, 2011.
- The Sabres are 4-3-3 in their last 10 games vs. the Avalanche; 5-3-2 at home.
- This is the 133rd game all-time between Buffalo and Colorado; the Sabres are 59-50-23 against the Avalanche (36-19-10 at home).

STORYLINES
- The Sabres (7-2-1) have 15 points in their last 10 games, trailing only Dallas (19), Pittsburgh (18) and St. Louis (17) for most points in their last 10 games.
- Buffalo has won five straight at home for the first time since closing last season with wins in their last five home games. The Sabres last won six consecutive home games from Jan. 17 to Feb. 15, 2007.
- Buffalo enters the day four points out of a playoff spot after beginning the day on Feb. 17 in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 10 points out of eighth in the Eastern Conference.
- The Sabres are 10-6-0 against the Western Conference this season, including a 3-0-0 record against the Northwest Division. The Avalanche are 11-4-0 against the Eastern Conference, and 4-0-0 against the Northeast.
- The Sabres are looking for their first win against the Avalanche since Dec. 4, 2005 (6-4 win at Colorado).

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Marcus Foligno recorded his first career goal on Saturday at OTT and then followed that up with his first assist on Monday vs. MTL… Buffalo has played a league-high 13 overtime games at home… Jason Pominville ranks fourth in the league with 42 points (16+26) in 36 home games… Buffalo is 27-3-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 24-4-3 when scoring three or more… The Sabres are 15-5-3 with Corey Tropp in the lineup.

ENNIS IS HEATING UP
Tyler Ennis has scored a goal in each of the Sabres’ last two games and has 11 points (6+5) in his last 14 games. The Sabres are 11-1-3 when Tyler Ennis records a point this season and 38-9-7 when he tallies a point in his career. With two goals on Monday vs. MTL, Ennis recorded his third career two-goal game.

MYERS MOVES UP THE CHARTS
With his overtime goal on Monday vs. MTL, Tyler Myers broke the Sabres’ franchise record for overtime goals by a defenseman, with three. In just his third NHL season, Myers has also tied Brian Campbell and Alexei Zhitnik for fifth-most game-winning goals by a defenseman, with seven.

KILLING IT
Buffalo has killed off 20 straight penalties entering tonight .The team hasn’t allowed a power play goal since Feb. 24 vs. BOS, with Buffalo’s goaltenders turning away 24 power play shots during that stretch.

IT’S MILLER TIME
Ryan Miller is 9-1-1 in his last 11 games with a .944 save percentage and a 1.78 goals against average, and 14-3-3 in his last 21 games with a 1.84 goals against average and a .939 save percentage.

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POSTED ON Monday, 03.12.2012 / 12:05 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

LINEUP NEWS
- Thomas Vanek and Patrick Kaleta are both expected to play tonight
- Ryan Miller expected to get the start in goal.
- Matt Ellis out with a knee injury; Andrej Sekera has been diagnosed with pneumonia

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING
Lindy Ruff (listen to the full audio)
Thomas Vanek says he feels better – will he play tonight?
It looks like he’s ready to go so we’ll get him back in. I don’t know after three days absence how that will affect him; we’ll see.

It has to be a boost just to have Vanek available to you?
We’re getting a good player back in the lineup, so it’s definitely a positive for us.

What’s the latest on Ellis and Sekera?
Sekera has taken another turn for the worse; he hasn’t even left home yet. I think he’s been diagnosed with pneumonia. So it’s not good. With Ellis, he’s gonna be gone for a good period of time with a knee injury. I can’t put a time frame on (how long he’ll be out), but it’s not good.

TONIGHT’S GAME
CANADIENS at SABRES
-Fifth of six meetings between the Sabres and Canadiens this season.
-Last meeting: Montreal defeated Buffalo, 4-3 (SO), in Buffalo on Feb. 17.
-The teams meet next on Wednesday, March 21 in Buffalo.
-The Sabres are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Canadiens; 6-2-2 at home.
-This is the 252nd game all-time between Buffalo and Montreal; the Sabres are 114-100-37 against the Canadiens (66-34-24 at home).

STORYLINES
- The Sabres (7-2-1) have 15 points in their last 10 games, trailing only Dallas (19), Pittsburgh (18) and St. Louis (18) for most points in their last 10 games. They have won four straight at home for the first time since closing last season with wins in their last five home games.
- Buffalo enters tonight’s game two points out of a playoff spot after beginning the day on Feb. 17 in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 10 points out of eighth in the Eastern Conference.
- The Sabres are 10-5-4 against the Northeast Division this season, including a 3-0-1 record against the Canadiens. Buffalo has gone 6-0-1 in their last seven against the Habs, dating back to Nov. 27, 2010.
- Derek Roy has five points (1+4) against the Canadiens this season and leads all Sabres with 35 (12+23) in 45 career games against the Habs.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Buffalo is 26-3-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 23-4-3 when scoring three or more… The Sabres are 14-5-3 with Corey Tropp in the lineup… Matt Ellis left Saturday’s game with a lower body injury… The Sabres are 10-1-3 when Tyler Ennis records a point this season and 37-9-7 when he tallies a point in his career… Marcus Foligno recorded his first career point with a goal on Saturday at OTT… Buffalo has played a league-high 12 overtime games at home… Jason Pominville ranks fourth in the league with 41 points (16+25) in 35 home games.

KILLING IT
The Sabres were only whistled for one penalty in each of their last two games, and killed off each power play attempt. Buffalo has killed off 18 straight penalties entering tonight, and the team hasn’t allowed a power play goal since Feb. 24 vs. BOS.

IT’S MILLER TIME
Ryan Miller is 8-1-1 in his last 10 games with a .945 save percentage and a 1.76 goals against average, and 13-3-3 in his last 19 games with a 1.89 goals against average and a .938 save percentage.

FINISHING STRONG AFTER THE BREAK
Buffalo is 537-400-183 (.561) all-time in games after the All-Star break. This includes a record of 86-47-21 (.627) in those games since the lockout. The Sabres are 11-5-3 (.658) since the 2012 NHL All-Star Game.

BATTLING BACK
The Sabres began the day on Feb. 17 in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 10 points out of a playoff spot after a 7-2 loss at PHI the night before. Since then, the team has gone 8-2-2, allowing 2.00 goals per game. Only one team in NHL history has overcome a 10-point deficit this late in the season, when the New York Islanders rallied from a 10-point hole on Feb. 18, 1994 to snag eighth place in the conference.
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POSTED ON Saturday, 03.10.2012 / 2:02 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

LINEUP NEWS
- Thomas Vanek and Patrick Kaleta will be game-time decisions
- Ryan Miller expected to get the start in goal.
- Marcus Foligno has been recalled on an emergency basis from Rochester
- Ben Bishop will get the start in goal for Ottawa; Erik Karlsson is a game-time decision

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING
Lindy Ruff (listen to the full audio)
What are you expecting from the Senators tonight?
I think they’ve been playing good hockey. They just beat the Rangers. Obviously every point is as important for them as it is for us. They beat a good hockey team last time in this building, and we’re gonna have to be on our game.

What’s different about the Sens now as compared to the start of the season?
Spezza’s had a great year for them, and Michalek too. They had a great run, followed by a six or seven game losing streak – which seems to be normal for this league. When you look at it, you point to the young defenseman having a great year, along with a couple of their key forwards up front. They’ve had exceptional years.

Marcus Foligno has been on a lot of planes lately; what can you expect from him if he plays?
If he does play, I’d like to see him be the best Foligno out there.

TODAY’S GAME
SABRES at SENATORS
-This is the sixth and final meeting between the Sabres and Senators this season.
-Last meeting: Ottawa defeated Buffalo, 3-2 (SO), in Buffalo on Dec. 31.
-The Sabres are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games vs. the Senators; 5-5-0 on the road.
-This is the 112th game all-time between Buffalo and Ottawa; Buffalo leads the series with a 55-40-16 record. Buffalo is 25-21-10 on the road against the Senators all-time.

STORYLINES
-The Sabres are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games, trailing only Pittsburgh and Dallas for most points among all NHL teams in their last 10 games.
-Buffalo enters tonight’s game two points out of a playoff spot after beginning the day on Feb. 17 in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 10 points out.
-The Sabres are 9-5-4 against the Northeast Division this season, including a 2-1-2 record against the Senators.
-Tyler Ennis has eight points (3+5) in eight career games against Ottawa, including points in each of his last four (2+3) against the Senators.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Buffalo is 26-3-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 22-4-3 when scoring three or more… The Sabres are 13-5-3 with Corey Tropp in the lineup… Thomas Vanek left Thursday’s game with an upper body injury… The Sabres are 9-1-3 when Ennis records a point this season and 36-9-7 when he tallies a point in his career.

HOMETOWN BOY
Derek Roy, an Ottawa native, is Buffalo’s leading scorer against the Senators with 36 points (14+22) in 44 games played. Roy has tallied five points (2+3) in five games against the Sens this year, and added the game-deciding goal in the shootout when the teams met on Nov. 5.



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POSTED ON Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 12:21 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

BOSTON -- The last time Buffalo ventured into the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston on November 12, they were riding a four-game winning streak and sat in fifth-place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 10-5-0. Things were much different when they boarded a plane for Montreal after that game.

The Bruins had rocked the Sabres with a 6-2 loss, and a controversial hit delivered by Boston’s Milan Lucic left goaltender Ryan Miller with a concussion that caused him to miss eight games.

The Sabres are 21-23-8 since that night, but a recent run of 7-1-2 in their past 10 games has vaulted them to within two points of the final playoff spot in the East.

Miller has been a huge reason for the team’s recent success. Questions regarding his health have disappeared during a stretch that has seen him make 10 straight starts while playing in 21 consecutive games. (Miller’s only non-start during this streak was a relief appearance during a 7-2 loss in Philadelphia on February 16.) It’s been 50 days since Miller last watched an entire game from the bench – January 18 in Chicago.

The NHL’s reigning First Star of the week is 7-1-1 in his last nine games with a .949 save percentage and a 1.65 goals against average; and 12-3-3 in his last 18 games with a 1.84 GAA and a .939 save %.

These stellar numbers have left head coach Lindy Ruff with an interesting dilemma as they return to the scene of the November crime. Does he start Miller for the 11th straight game, in front of what will likely be a raucous Boston crowd? Or does he give him a break and opt for Jhonas Enroth, who is 0-1-2 with a 2.68 GAA in four career games against the Bruins? (As a comparison: Miller is 22-6-7 in 35 career games versus Boston, with a 2.53 GAA and .917 save %)

Ruff wasn’t available to the media today as the Sabres held an optional morning skate following last night’s 3-2 overtime win over Carolina. (This is Buffalo’s fifth game in eight days, and second of a stretch that has them playing three in four.) But even if Ruff was to talk to the media this morning, the chances of him revealing his starting goaltender on a game day are about as good as me choosing a vacation in Winnipeg over a trip to Disney World.

Following last night’s game, Miller downplayed the reaction to his comments to reporters after Monday’s 3-1 loss in Winnipeg. “As you can tell, I’m tired from this trip,” Miller said while standing in front of stall at the MTS Centre. “I can barely talk right now.”

Miller said those words were spoken in the moment, and don’t reflect his current state of mind.

“I’m fine. We’ll see how everything plays out here. Lindy will want to get a plan together. I’ll get as much rest as possible. If they need me to play, I’ll play. We’ll go from there,” Miller explained. “I think this all kind of spun out of me saying I was exhausted or something like that. It was three in four at the tail end of a road trip where we played four games, so I was commenting on that. We had a chance to travel without any practice and get some rest.

“We do this for a living; we’ve done this a lot. I sat on the couch for I don’t know how many hours, just putting food in my mouth and watching mindless television. That usually does the trick.”



TODAY’S GAME
SABRES at BRUINS
-Fifth of six meetings between the Sabres and Bruins this season.
-Last meeting: Buffalo defeated Boston, 2-1, in Buffalo on Feb. 24.
-The teams meet next on Saturday, Apr. 7 in Boston for the last game of the season.
-The Sabres are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games vs. the Bruins; 4-5-1 on the road.
-This is the 262nd game all-time between Buffalo and Boston; Buffalo leads the series with a 114-108-39 record; Buffalo is 44-67-18 all-time against the Bruins on the road.

STORYLINES
-The Sabres are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games, tying Pittsburgh (8-2-0) and Dallas (7-1-2) for most points among all NHL teams in their last 10 games.
-Buffalo enters tonight’s game two points out of a playoff spot after beginning the day on Feb. 17 in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 10 points out.
-The Sabres are 9-4-4 against the Northeast Division this season, including a 2-1-1 record against the Bruins.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Buffalo has faced Boston more than any other team in franchise history, with 261 games played between the two clubs… Buffalo is 26-3-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 22-4-3 when scoring three or more… The Sabres are 13-4-3 with Corey Tropp in the lineup.

LET'S PLAY TWO
Tonight’s game wraps up Buffalo’s 19th of a league-high 21 sets of back-to-back games this season after last night’s 3-2 overtime win vs. CAR. The Sabres are 12-7-0 in the first game and 6-7-5 in the second. Buffalo’s points breakdown in back-to-back sets is as follows: four points (3), three points (2), two points (9), one point (3) and zero points (1).
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