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POSTED ON Friday, 02.10.2012 / 11:45 AM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

LINEUP NEWS
- Thomas Vanek returns from injury; no decision has been made on what line he’ll be on.
- Ryan Miller is expected to get the start in goal tonight

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING
Lindy Ruff (click to hear full audio)
Thomas Vanek says he’s healthy again – will he play tonight?
Yeah, he says he’s good to go. So we’ll get him in and get him going.

Have you decided what line he’ll play on?
We’ll make that decision. We had discussions this morning. After that last game it’s tough to change any of the lines around. We’ll make a decision, and judge it as the game goes.

Not including Jochen Hecht, you are pretty much a full healthy team again. You must be happy?
I think we’ve seen a little bit of the effects of being healthier. We’ve played a lot better in our own end. Offensively we’re starting to come, and getting Thomas back should at least help our power play. And if he starts scoring it can only help us offensively.

TONIGHT’S GAME
STARS at SABRES
- First and only meeting between the Sabres and Stars this season.
- Last meeting: Dallas defeated Buffalo, 4-0, in Dallas on Oct. 30, 2010
- The Sabres are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games vs. the Bruins; 7-2-1 at home.
- This is the 112th game all-time between Buffalo and Dallas; Buffalo leads the series with a 53-41-17 record
- Buffalo is 30-13-11 all-time against the Stars at home.

STORYLINES
- The Sabres have gone 5-0-1 (one tie) in their last six home games against the Stars. Dallas has not won a regular season game in Buffalo since Oct. 7, 1997, when they won 4-2.
- Buffalo enters tonight’s game on a five-game point streak (4-0-1), their longest since they finished last season on a 5-0-1 run. The Sabres are also seeking their first three-game win streak since winning four straight from Nov. 4 to Nov. 11.
- Ryan Miller enters tonight’s game on the best five-game stretch of his career. Miller is 4-0-1 in those games with two shutouts and career-best numbers (0.95 GAA and .969 SV%) for a five-game span.
- The Sabres have points in their last nine home games (5-0-4), with their last regulation loss at home coming on Dec. 10. It is the team’s longest such streak since 2009-10, when they went 9-0-3 in 12 home games from Dec. 9 to Jan. 29.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Ryan Miller is 3-0-0 in his career against Dallas with a 2.59 GAA… The Sabres are 11-5-3 (.658) with Tyler Ennis in the lineup… Buffalo is 19-2-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 18-4-2 when scoring three or more… 16 of Buffalo’s last 20 games have been decided by two goals or less.
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POSTED ON Thursday, 02.09.2012 / 3:33 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Thomas Vanek missed his third straight game with an upper body injury last night, but that streak should come to an end tomorrow when the Dallas Stars come to First Niagara Center. Vanek practiced with the team again today, and said afterwards that he’s ready to go.

“I’m hoping to, we’ll see how it reacts today,” he explained. “But that’s my goal. We’ll see.”

CLICK TO HEAR FULL VANEK AUDIO

Lindy Ruff will be more than happy to write Vanek’s name on the lineup sheet again, but he’ll leave the final decision on his return up to Vanek himself.

“We put him through a battery of extra tests after practice. We’ll see how he’s feeling in the morning,” said Ruff. “He’s the only one who knows whether he can go or not. If he says he’s ready to go, and doesn’t have any ill effects from what happened today, then he’ll be back in.”

CLICK TO HEAR FULL RUFF AUDIO

But figuring out exactly who Vanek will play with when he returns is the $64,000 question. Vanek practiced on a line with Brad Boyes and Patrick Kaleta today, but that was only due to Paul Gaustad’s “maintenance day” off.

And with Ville Leino quickly developing a chemistry over the last few games with Jason Pominville and Derek Roy, it’s not a given at this point that Vanek will be slotted in his usual spot on the left side of the top team’s top line.

Vanek understands that could be the case.

“Life goes on,” Vanek said with a smile. “The line’s been playing well. In the three games I missed, the team’s played great. For me, it’s try to find a spot in the lineup and work myself up again … I know what I have to do to produce. To me it doesn’t matter. I’m just hoping to be back in, contribute and play well.”



Ruff said Jochen Hecht is starting to feel better, after suffering post-concussion symptoms two weeks ago in New Jersey following a hit from TJ Oshie in St. Louis on January 21.

“They’ve done some further examination. I think right now they’re going to do a (non-surgical) procedure on his neck, where maybe some of that pain has been coming from. So a little bit of a different evaluation with him.”

If the procedure is successful, Ruff wouldn’t rule out Hecht returning to the lineup this season.
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 12:30 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

LINEUP NEWS
- Lindy Ruff will not be behind the bench due to his rib injury; James Patrick will assume the head coaching  duties.
- Ryan Miller is expected to get the start in goal.
- Thomas Vanek skated with the team today for the first time since suffering an upper body injury in Montreal last Tuesday; he remains out of the lineup.

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING
James Patrick (click to hear full audio)
Will Lindy be able to coach tonight?
Lindy won’t be on the bench tonight. Kevyn and I, and Teppo, will be running the bench. Lindy is hoping to be here, that’s the plan right now. We had a meeting with him yesterday afternoon, and spoke to him at length this morning. That’s how it stands right now.

Will you stay with the defensemen or move over to the forwards?
No - I’ll move over to the forwards, and Kevyn is going to run the defense.

So if Lindy comes, will he be up in the press box?
Either the press box, or just in the office watching it on the big screen.

What’s it going to be like for you running the forwards?
Well, my first five years of coaching I worked with the forwards or worked at that end of the ice. It’ll be different, but I’ve been on the bench for 20 years as a player. The helpful thing is there’s a lot of veteran guys with Pommer, Gaustad and Derek Roy. It’s a pretty veteran lineup.

TONIGHT’S GAME: BRUINS at SABRES
-Third of six meetings between the Sabres and Bruins this season.
-Last meeting: Boston defeated Buffalo, 4-3 (SO), in Buffalo on Nov. 23.
-The teams meet next on Friday, Feb. 24 in Buffalo.
-The Sabres are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games vs. the Bruins; 4-4-2 at home.
-This is the 260th game all-time between Buffalo and Boston; Buffalo leads the series with a 112-108-39 record; Buffalo is 68-41-21 all-time against the Bruins at home.

STORYLINES
- Buffalo enters tonight’s game on a four-game point streak (3-0-1), their longest since winning four straight from Nov. 4 to Nov. 11 before suffering a 6-2 loss to the Bruins on Nov. 12. Points tonight would give the Sabres their first five-game unbeaten streak since they finished last season on a 5-0-1 run.
- The Sabres have points in their last eight home games (4-0-4), with their last regulation loss at home coming on Dec. 10. It is the team’s longest such streak since 2009-10, when they went 9-0-3 in 12 home games from Dec. 9 to Jan. 29.
- With a win on Saturday at NYI, Ryan Miller broke Dominik Hasek’s franchise record of 234 wins with the Sabres. Miller’s 235th career victory marked the first time Hasek has not held the record since he surpassed Don Edwards (156 wins) on Nov. 3, 1998 in a 4-2 win vs. Boston. Edwards had previously held the record since March 11, 1979, when he passed Roger Crozier (74 wins) in a 9-4 victory over the Atlanta Flames.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Buffalo has faced Boston more than any other team in franchise history, with 259 games played between the two clubs … The Sabres are 10-5-3 (.638) with Tyler Ennis in the lineup … Buffalo is 18-2-2 when allowing two or fewer goals; 17-4-2 when scoring three or more … 16 of the Sabres’ last 19 games have been decided by two goals or less.

CLOSE AT HOME
The Sabres have seen nine of their last 11 home games decided by one goal, including each of the last five. Of Buffalo’s 26 home games this season, 17 have been decided by just one goal. The Sabres are 6-5-6 in these games.


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POSTED ON Saturday, 02.04.2012 / 1:14 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

MORNING SKATE LINES
Leino-Roy-Pominville
Gerbe-Ennis-Stafford
Gaustad-Boyes-Kaleta
Ellis-Adam-McCormick

LINEUP NEWS
- Ryan Miller is expected to get the start in goal tonight
- Stafford & Ennis are both back in the lineup after missing time with the flu
- Thomas Vanek remains out tonight with an upper body injury.
- No decision on what forward will be scratched. All will take the pre-game warmup.
- Gragnani will be the odd man out on defense.

STORYLINES
* The Sabres enter tonight’s game on a three-game point streak (2-0-1), their longest since winning four straight from Nov. 4 to Nov. 11.
* Buffalo has won its last two on the road and will look to win three straight road games for the first time since they won three in a row from Oct. 15 to Oct. 20.
* Ryan Miller tied Dominik Hasek’s franchise win record in Tuesday night’s win at Montreal. With one more win, Miller will become the winningest goaltender in franchise history, supplanting Hasek, who has held the record since Nov. 3 1998.
* Miller was credited with a shutout in Wednesday’s 1-0 shootout loss to the Rangers. His shutout streak currently stands at 120:51. The longest such streak of Miller’s career was is 161:35, from Nov. 27 to Dec.7, 2010.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
The Sabres are 9-5-3 (.618) with Tyler Ennis in the lineup… Buffalo is 18-2-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 16-4-2 when scoring three or more… Fifteen of the Sabres’ last 18 games have been decided by two goals or less… After tonight, the Sabres will play their next four games at home.

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING
Lindy Ruff (click to hear full audio)
Will you come out hard tonight knowing the Islanders played and traveled last night?
It’s important that we get the puck down below the goalline and spend the majority of the first 10 minutes there, where sometimes a team can get stuck in back-to-back games.

Can you wear them down physically too?
I think we have to hammer on that point with their top line (Tavares/Okposo/Moulson). That line has really played well for them. They’re a tough line to control. I think Tavares has now become one of the premier younger players in the league. His stats are starting to go up, and his skating has been excellent. They’ve got some good chemistry. It’s a line we know that we have to be hard on, and we can’t give them any free opportunities.

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POSTED ON Friday, 02.03.2012 / 5:40 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

As off-day practices go, it was a relatively uneventful few hours at the First Niagara Center today as the team prepared for Saturday’s game in Long Island.

The biggest news was that both of the team’s latest flu bug casualties were back in uniform and going full speed. Tyler Ennis returned after missing yesterday with the flu. He was joined on a line by Drew Stafford, who was hit hard enough by the bug that it kept him out of Wednesday’s shootout loss to the New York Rangers. This was Stafford’s second straight practice, and Ruff said both players should be good to go tomorrow night.

Zack Kassian, recalled Wednesday when Stafford went down, is still with the big club and will travel with the team today.

“I think right now the plan would be to take him with,” said Ruff. “You never know what’s gonna pop up with us.”

TJ Brennan watched practice from the sidelines again today, as he recovers from a concussion that came as a result of a hit delivered by Winnipeg’s Nik Antropov on January 19. Antropov received a minor penalty for boarding on the play, and was subsequently fined $2,500 by the league.

“He’s still not good,” said Ruff. “He’s getting some treatment. He’s had some further x-rays and stuff, but he’s still not good.”



Today’s lines at practice: 23-9-29; 21-63-42; 22-28-36; 54/8-72-37



The Sabres will be facing a tired club on Saturday, as the Islanders are in Ottawa tonight for a 7:30 p.m. faceoff with the Sens. Since they’ll have to clear Canadian Customs before flying home, the Islanders likely won’t be in their own beds until sometime after 2 a.m.



Following Saturday’s game, Buffalo doesn’t play again until they host Boston on Wednesday at FNC. It’s the first of a pair of three-day breaks they’ll get this month, the other coming on February 26-28.
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 12:17 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

With the late arrival from Montreal, the Sabres held a team meeting this morning at First Niagara Center followed by an optional skate. Only a handful of players skated in preparation for tonight’s game against the Rangers (7:30 p.m.). Paul Gaustad and Lindy Ruff both spoke to the media today and commented on the incident during last night’s game involving Gaustad and Montreal forward Max Pacioretty. Excerpts from their comments along with the full audio links are below.

LINEUP NEWS
- Thomas Vanek is out; more will be known about his condition later today.
- Ruff said another forward is also sick, so a recall from Rochester will be coming.

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING
Paul Gaustad (click to hear full audio)
With all the talking that goes on the ice during games, how surprised were you the Canadiens talked about it in the media afterwards?
I figured you guys were gonna ask me about that today. I’m gonna address it for the last time today. It’s something where Pacioretty said something to me; I said something back along the same lines. And the guy (Mathieu Darche) that kinda brought it up in the media wasn’t even involved with it. For Darche to bring it up in the media, in my opinion, stuff that happens on the ice stays on the ice. I don’t want to blow it out of proportion. You have to have thick skin in the NHL. I’m fine with it, so just move on. It’s something where it – trash talking – happens in the NHL almost every game. So it’s no surprise. Again, I think that stuff should stay on the ice, and just move on to the next game.

Lindy Ruff (click to hear full audio)
What are your thoughts on the trash talk incident last night – did you know about it?
I knew about it. I think that I could give you one situation every night. For them to go public, I thought was ridiculous on their part. I think they were looking for something to talk about or feel good about after that game, and they’re barking up the wrong tree if you ask me.



RANGERS @ SABRES
  • This is the second of four meetings between the Sabres and Rangers this season.
  • Last meeting: New York defeated Buffalo, 4-1, in Buffalo on Dec. 10.
  • The Sabres are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Rangers; 5-4-1 at home.
  • This is the 160th game all-time between Buffalo and NY Rangers; Buffalo leads the series with a 76-53-30 record. Buffalo is 46-23-12 at home against the Rangers all-time.
  • The two teams will next meet on Feb. 25 in New York.


STORYLINES
  • The Sabres have points in their last seven home games (4-0-3). The team last had points in seven straight when they ended last season by going 6-0-1 in their last seven at First Niagara Center. The last time Buffalo had points in more than seven consecutive home games came in 2009-10, when they went 9-0-3 in 12 games from Dec. 9 to Jan. 29.
  • Buffalo is seeking its first three-game win streak since since winning four straight from Nov. 4 to Nov. 11.
  • Ryan Miller tied Dominik Hasek’s franchise win record in last night’s win at Montreal.
  • With Thomas Vanek expected to be sidelined tonight with an upper body injury sustained in last night’s win, Jason Pominville will be Buffalo’s only skater to have dressed for every game this season.
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 2:43 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

LINEUP NEWS
- Tyler Ennis returns to the lineup after missing 17 games due to injury (high ankle sprain).
- Ennis will shift to center on a line with Drew Stafford and Nathan Gerbe.
- Paul Gaustad will be a game-time decision; he has missed last three games with upper body injury.
- Ryan Miller expected to start in goal.

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING TODAY
Lindy Ruff (click to hear full audio)
With basically your full lineup back tonight, can you get the guys back to how the opened the season in Europe?
We’ve had a tough ride. Getting back to that point isn’t just flipping a switch. It’s gonna take a total team effort. I don’t think it’s that easy.

What have you seen in Ennis that prompted you to move him to center?
We need a little creativity there in the middle. I think his speed and creativity should give us some of that. He’s always had a pretty good link with Stafford. We started the season with those two guys together. Tyler was in on a great number of Staff’s goals last year. If he can free him up for an extra one or two times per game, then it should help us generate a few more goals.

Is being without Hecht one of the reasons you shifted Ennis to center?
Part of it is. We’re gonna need somebody to step in there. It’s a little bit of a gamble, little bit of a guess. But it’s worth taking a shot at.

Tyler Ennis (click to hear full audio)
What was going through your mind when you re-injured your ankle in December?
It was just frustrating. I thought I got it going right before, but when I hurt it again it was pretty frustrating. I feel good, ready to go; can’t wait.

What are you looking forward to about playing center?
I think just having the puck a little more, skating the puck out and taking charge a little bit. I’ve played center in the minors, in junior, and a little bit up here. I’m excited to switch it up a bit. I’m gonna have the puck a bit more, so I can create more that way.

Did you really learn to play center while you were in Portland?
I played it growing up. But playing in the d-zone and technically, it was a good time for me to play center in Portland. There are bigger guys, so positionally it helped me a lot there. There are a lot of smaller guys that play center in this league. It’s all about having a good stick, being smarter and quicker.
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 2:21 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

MORNING SKATE LINES
Vanek-Roy-Pominville
Stafford-Boyes-Leino
Ellis-Adam-McCormick
Gerbe-Hecht-Kaleta

LINEUP NEWS
- Ryan Miller expected to start in goal, despite taking shot to collarbone area during practice
- Robyn Regehr returns to the lineup after missing 4 games due to injury.
- Christian Ehrhoff returns to the lineup after missing 11 games due to injury.
- Joe Finley has been returned to Rochester.

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING
Lindy Ruff (click to hear full audio)
Has Robyn Regehr improved enough to play?
Yeah, it looks like Robyn is good to go. He says he feels strong enough, and we’re gonna play him.

How is Ryan?
I think he’s okay. He took a shot there. I didn’t see it.

Getting Ehrhoff and Regehr back tonight is obviously a real boost for you?
It should really help our defending. In our own end where we’ve had a tough time, getting two NHL defensemen back should help us.

Robyn Regehr (click to hear full audio)
From the looks of the morning skate, it looks like you are back tonight?
Yep, I’m gonna go out there and try and help us win a game. It’s come around in the last couple of days. I’m able to take some slap shots and hit a few guys in practice.

Being strong enough to return is important for you with this injury?
It’s the battles in the corner for the puck, or body position in front, things like that where you need some strength and stability in your shoulders to be able to do that. So that was one of the issues I was facing, and it seems to be okay.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 5:36 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

The 5-0 final on the scoreboard at Joe Louis Arena last night wasn’t pretty. Neither was the fact that it was also Buffalo’s night straight road loss in regulation, extending a franchise record they set Saturday in Long Island. But in the eyes of head coach Lindy Ruff, it was nowhere near the team’s worst game of the season.

“I’ve seen a lot worse games. I’ve seen a lot worse games when it comes to work ethic and skating,” Ruff said today, adding that he has to temper his frustration during games like last night. “I’ve gotta guard against that when I’m standing behind that bench, to let my frustration show. It’s not a time to yell and scream, to rant and rave. We’ve had some discussions in the room. But my frustration can’t show. I’ve gotta be the guy that leads them through this.”

Ruff also agreed with last night’s passionate post-game comments made by Ryan Miller, where he refuted the notion that a trade of any kind is just what the Sabres need now to reverse their struggles.

“I’m under the premise that a one player trade deal can work at times. I’ve seen a lot of them where it doesn’t have any impact. The only way you’re going to succeed is by uniting as a team and getting through this.”

Ruff continued: “One player isn’t going to make a difference. A lot of times that one player leaving is a good player, and you’re getting a player from another team that had been having a tough time over there. It can work in situations. There are other times when it doesn’t make any difference at all.”



The Sabres skated today at Johnny’s Ice House on Madison St. in Chicago, just a Bobby Hull slapshot down the street from the United Center. Patrick Kaleta was the only skater missing from the ice at today’s practice. Ruff said Kaleta was still trying to shake the remnants a bug that limited his ice time on Monday in Detroit, so they gave him the day off to rest at the team hotel.



Brian Duff of SabresTV had a chance to talk with Christian Ehrhoff today about his injury rehab, and what it's like to go into the wild atmosphere that is the United Center in Chicago. Click here to watch the full video.


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POSTED ON Monday, 01.16.2012 / 3:12 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

MORNING SKATE LINES
Vanek-Hecht-Pominville
Stafford-Roy-Gerbe
Adam-Boyes-Leino
Ellis-Gaustad-Kaleta

LINEUP NEWS
- Andrej Sekera returns to the lineup after missing 8 games due to injury.
- Ryan Miller expected to start in goal.
- TJ Brennan recalled from Rochester, expected to play.
- Cody McCormick and Joe Finley are the likely scratches.

Lindy Ruff (click to hear full audio)
Do you agree that you’ll have to cut down on turnovers against a team like Detroit?
Our defense is gonna have to be better. We’re gonna have to make smarter decisions. We’re gonna have to be better with the puck in the offensive zone so we can play there more. I think that’ll be the key. It all starts with what we do up ice. If we allow them to control play in our end, give them that period of time, then by the time we’re done defending we’re giving them back the puck usually. That won’t work.

What does Andrej Sekera bring back to the lineup?
He brings that experience. He’s played against the top lines; we were using him against the other team’s top personnel. He can skate with them, he can defend against them. We lose a good player (Regehr), but we’re getting a good player back in return.

How is Robyn Regehr doing; any chance he’s back this week?
I don’t know, I can’t answer that. He’s still day-to-day, and I would say there isn’t any likelihood for Wednesday or Thursday.

Is Christian Ehrhoff getting closer to a return?
Christian is okay, he’s coming. We don’t exactly know; it’s a pain tolerance thing.
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