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POSTED ON Friday, 01.13.2012 / 12:05 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
- Derek Roy will play tonight, centering a line with Stafford and Gerbe.
- Ryan Miller expected to start in goal.
- Andrej Sekera & Christian Ehrhoff took part in today’s skate in non-contact roles. Both are at least a week away.

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING TODAY:
Lindy Ruff
(click to hear full audio)
With Derek Roy’s injury, are you concerned about him taking faceoffs?
Well I guess the obvious answer is yes, probably. It’s already happened twice. Maybe in some situations we won’t have him in there taking them. A winger is gonna have to step in, whether it’s Stafford or Pominville. Someone is gonna have to step in every so often. Especially if we’re losing the bulk of them.

Can you build on the urgency the team showed in the third period on Tuesday?
When we looked at the game again, there was some real good play in the second period as well. Over the last 40 minutes, we maybe gave up four opportunities. It’s a tough game; you’ve gotta get inside and get the second opportunities. There’s not a lot of the easy opportunities out there, the coming up ice and trying to score on the rush. Teams are doing a good job of eliminating that. Toronto did a good job of staying in lanes and eliminating the opportunities.

How do you feel now that Terry Pegula has spoken up, and he understands the injuries have been such a major problem for the team this season?
I still think nobody is happy. None of us are happy, and you want to win through any circumstances. I feel that right now we are healthy enough to win. We’re not gonna blow anybody out, we’re gonna have to win some tight games.

Derek Roy (click to hear full audio)
Will you be playing tonight?
Yes I will. Gotta get ready for the game, get my legs going early and get a win tonight.

Is it a pain tolerance issue for you?
It’s more a strength thing, being able to go in the corners and try to battle and get pucks back. I worked on a lot of different strength routines everyday, and it’s gotten a lot stronger.

Nathan Gerbe (click to hear full audio)
Does it help to hear that the owner is still behind you?
Yeah, I think it does. We know we can be a good team. But we know we need to find an identity, and find it soon. Having your ownership and coaches back you does go a long way and give you a bit of confidence.

Is it more than just injuries the team has had to deal with?
I think it’s more than that. We’ve still got a lot of good players in the lineup. Injuries don’t help, but some other guys need to step up – myself included. I need to find a way to play better and score for this team.


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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 4:45 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

VIDEO: SABRES PRACTICE #2
VIDEO: SABRES PRACTICE #3
VIDEO: SABRES PRACTICE #4
The NHL announced the full rosters for this year’s All-Star Weekend in Ottawa, and two Sabres will be headed to Canada’s capital at the end of January. Jason Pominville was among the 36 players named to the All-Star Game lineup, and Luke Adam was one of 12 rookies selected to participate in the Skills Competition.

The All-Star Game takes place on Sunday, January 29 (4 p.m.), while the Skills Compeition is January 28 at 7 p.m. Scotiabank Place will host both events.

“It’s a pretty cool opportunity, should be a fun weekend,” Pominville said today following practice. “I’m obviously excited. I’ve been used to having a little bit of a break, but I guess this year will be a little different.”

The All-Star Game selection continues a whirlwind season for Pominville, who was named Buffalo’s captain during the team’s trip to Europe in October. He leads the Sabres in scoring with 14 goals and 43 points in 42 games, which is also good for 11th in league scoring.

Adam was on the ice taking part in a photo shoot when the rosters were announced this afternoon. He was unaware of his selection until being greeted by reporters on his way into the locker room.

“I’m pretty excited, that’s pretty neat,” said a beaming Adam. “To play in the NHL, and now go to the All-Star Game and meet those guys … it’s going to be an honor.”

Adam will only take part in Saturday’s skills event, and already has an idea of which competition he might want to avoid.

“Last year in the AHL All-Star Game I did Accuracy Shooting -- but only went three-for-eight. Maybe I’ll do that, but I’m going to have to get into the shooter tutor before I go.”



Thomas Vanek returned to the ice today after missing Wednesday’s practice with a bout of food poisoning he contracted in Toronto on Monday. He still wasn’t feeling 100 percent today.

“It felt good to be out there and get a sweat. I’m just a little weak from not eating. Hopefully get some food and electrolytes and feel better tomorrow.”

Vanek tried to play through his illness, but only lasted six shifts during the opening period of Buffalo’s 2-0 loss to the Maple Leafs.

“To be honest, after the first period I don’t even remember my shifts. I felt weak and dizzy, and just got to the point where I couldn’t help out my team anymore.”



Today’s practice was streamed live on sabres.com, and head coach Lindy Ruff was mic’d up throughout the entire 40 minutes. He tried not to let it affect his normal approach on the ice.

“I don’t think you completely forget about it. A little different obviously,” Ruff explained. “We really wanted to get an up-tempo practice and really get the legs driving today. I thought with the special teams practice mixed into the middle of it, we got what we wanted.”
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.10.2012 / 1:17 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

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

LINEUP NEWS
- Derek Roy will take the pre-game warmup and will be a game-time decision.
- Roy alternated at center with Matt Ellis between Adam/McCormick during today’s skate.
- Ryan Miller expected to start in goal tonight.
- Andrej Sekera also took part in the morning skate.


WHAT THEY WERE SAYING THIS MORNING
Derek Roy (click to hear full audio)
Will you be playing tonight?
Game-time decision. I’ll take the afternoon and see how it (shoulder) feels. Then come warmup, get out there and get ready to go, and we’ll see if it’s ready.

Nothing like some adrenaline to get you back into it?
Yeah, this is a big game for us. We need the points, and obviously they need them as well. Both sides are really gonna be battling. We haven’t been playing well on the road lately, and we’ve gotta play a smart game.

Lindy Ruff (click to hear full audio)
Is there a possibility that Derek Roy can play tonight?
We’ll take a look. He was better this morning than he was yesterday. Get him through the afternoon, then let him go for warmup and see where he’s at. He feels he’s close.

What kind of road game do you need to play tonight?
We were right there in Carolina and let it slip away halfway through the third period. It was the mistake of giving them the glorious opportunity. It wasn’t one they earned, we basically gave it to them. I think that when you are struggling on the offensive side, you cheat on the offensive side of the puck. We cheated on the offensive side and gave up a two-on-one that led to the game-winning goal.

Any updates on the progress of Ehrhoff and Ennis?
Christian is back in Buffalo skating, and Tyler isn’t on the ice yet.

What have you learned from the two previous games against Toronto?
They’ve been tight games. The Leafs have a good power play. They’ve got some good creativity on the top three lines. I’ve seen them score a lot of nice goals.

Is there a sense of urgency when playing a team you are chasing in the standings?
There’s no doubt there. Urgency has to be at a premium.

Is there any panic in the locker room at the midway point of the season?
The one thing we are, we’re exactly where we were last year. We’ve gotta step forward; we have a tough schedule. It all starts with one game. The disappointing part has been our road game.
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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 4:22 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Ryan Miller has started 12 of Buffalo’s last 14 games since returning from injury, and it doesn’t look like his workload is going to get any lighter for the foreseeable future.

The Sabres are coming off a rare two-day break between games, and play just three times in the next seven days. But then they hit a stretch of six games in nine days, including two sets of back-to-back games.

Head coach Lindy Ruff was emphatic today when asked about his goaltending plans for the next few weeks.

“I haven’t got a set rotation right now. I think my main focus was to have both goaltenders contribute,” Ruff explained. “I really want to get Ryan going. If he’s feeling comfortable playing well, and not tired, I’m gonna try to lean on him a little more and see if that helps him. It was good to see that both guys could help us put points on the board. But really my main focus would be to try to get Ryan on a run, and let him run with it.”

Miller has posted relatively pedestrian numbers so far this season, going 10-10-2 with a 3.05 goals against average and .900 save percentage. They are a far cry from his Vezina Trophy winning season of 2009-10 when he finished 41-18-8, with a 2.22 GAA and .929 save %.

Ruff said he isn’t bothered by Miller’s numbers, and thinks a good finishing stretch isn’t out of the question.

“I think you worry about numbers in short periods of time. Don’t worry about the global number,” Ruff said. “Worry about your next game; make sure that those numbers are good. Put a good three game stretch together. Then if there’s a bad one in there, worry about your next three games. I think short term goals, smaller goals. What’s behind him is behind him. He’s gotta put together the best 40 games he’s ever put together.”



The road to recovery for Tyler Ennis has hit a bump, and it looks like the speedy forward will be on the sideline for a little longer than expected.

Ennis
Ennis was the only Sabres player missing from today’s practice at First Niagara Center, as the team prepared for Friday’s game in Carolina. Ruff said afterwards that Ennis had a setback during yesterday’s workout.

“Tyler got a little stinger yesterday late in practice which we didn’t think was much. But he came in today and he was sore again so we decided just to hold him off.”

Ruff said this new development has changed his timetable for return.

“He’s probably more than day-to-day now. He didn’t skate today, and he’s not going to skate tomorrow. We’ll give him probably two days and get him back on the ice again.”

Tyler Myers had another good day of practice, and declared himself ready to play in Carolina tomorrow. Ville Leino continues to improve, but Ruff thinks his estimate of a Saturday return against Winnipeg might be a bit optimistic.
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 11:31 AM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

MORNING SKATE LINES
Vanek-Roy-Kassian
Stafford-Adam-Boyes
Ellis-Gaustad-Kaleta
Gerbe-Hecht-McCormick

LINEUP NEWS
- Jason Pominville was held out of practice, but Ruff thinks he’ll be okay to play.
- In Pominville’s absence, Kassian skated on line with Vanek and Roy.
- Ryan Miller expected to start in goal tonight.
- Ville Leino took part in the morning skate.



Lindy Ruff (click to hear full audio)
Is Jason Pominville too sick to play tonight?
No, we held him off. I think he’ll be alright; we just kept him off the ice this morning.

Ville Leino skated with the team and looked good. Where is his progress?
It’s his first time out; he’s skated a couple of times on his own. We think that in his case, he should be able to progress pretty fast.

You have with Roy paired with Vanek. Do you hope that can get him going again?
I look at how many inside opportunities a player gets. It’s not whether someone else can get him going. You’ve gotta get yourself going. And that’s getting to the inside. Whether you’ve gotta get down on your knees, stick the puck in your teeth and crawl into the net. That’s how dirty you’ve gotta get when it isn’t going as good as you want it to go.

Roy was playing some of the best hockey of his career before he got hurt last year. Would you agree that it hasn’t come back for him?
Not yet it hasn’t completely come back. I think that’s been evident. He’s had some real good pockets of play, but overall he hasn’t been able to push through and make a difference.

What are your thoughts on the Oilers?
As a team they have some real good speed. Their young players can fly. It’s a team that’s gonna be real scary. You give it a year or two and they’re going to be a real scary crew to play against.

Do you put more emphasis on your start tonight knowing Edmonton is on a long road trip and they played last night in Chicago?
I think from their front, you need to play a clean start. For us it’s about having a little more energy and push past them. Get the puck in the right place and get them under a lot of stress.



SABRES VS. OILERS
- This is the first and only meeting between the Sabres and Oilers this season.
- Last meeting: Buffalo defeated Edmonton, 4-2, in Edmonton on Dec. 28, 2010.The Sabres are 5-4-1in their last 10 games vs. the Oilers; 3-4-3 at home.
- This is the 65th game all-time between Buffalo and Edmonton; Buffalo trails the series with a 20-34-10 record. Buffalo is 12-13-7 at
home against the Oilers all-time.
- The Sabres have won their last five games against the Oilers, outscoring them 22-7 during that span. Ryan Miller started all five of
those games and is a perfect 5-0-0 against the Oilers in his career with a 1.40 GAA.
- Edmonton’s last win against the Sabres came on Oct. 16, 2003. The Oilers haven’t won in Buffalo since March 4, 2002.
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POSTED ON Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 3:55 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

WASHINGTON, DC --- Andrej Sekera was the only player missing today when Lindy Ruff put the Sabres through a 40-minute practice at a rink in suburban Virginia. And it looks like Sekera will be out of the lineup for a while after being injured in New Jersey on Wednesday.

The defenseman was knocked out of the game in the second period with an upper body injury when he was hit from behind along the boards by Eric Boulton. A two-minute roughing penalty was handed out to Boulton, but it looks like Sekera will missing for a matter of weeks.

“I didn’t really see the hit,” Sekera explained today. “I just kind of hit the boards and I was struggling from there … I saw him coming but I didn’t expect him to hit me that way. I was turning to the boards, going to pinch the puck. He came and smoked me, and that was the end of the story.”

Ruff said that Marc-Andre Gragnani will be inserted back in the lineup to replace Sekera, and doesn’t expect to make any recalls from Rochester.



LISTEN TO LINDY RUFF'S COMPLETE AUDIO FROM TODAY

Nathan Gerbe skated today as the fourth member of a line that also included Luke Adam, Matt Ellis and Zack Kassian. Ruff thinks it’s only a matter of time before Gerbe is back in the lineup.

“Nathan is getting real close. He could possibly be an option for one of these two (weekend) games maybe.”

Tyler Ennis practiced in the non-contact red jersey today, and Ruff has been encouraged by his progress.

“Tyler looked pretty good today overall. Obviously in a little more of a limited sense. But I thought he really skated well.”



Ryan Miller has started seven straight games, and 10 of Buffalo’s last 11. But that streak may be coming to an end this weekend. Jhonas Enroth hasn’t started since a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers on December 10, and Ruff says he is likely going to see some action against Washington or Ottawa.

“It’s a discussion we’ve had. I think we may go that route. We’re going to need Jhonas obviously. With four games in six nights, it’s been a fairly heavy load.”




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POSTED ON Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 2:47 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

MORNING SKATE LINES
Vanek-Hecht-Pominville
Stafford-Roy-Boyes
McCormick-Gaustad-Kaleta
Ellis-Adam-Kassian

LINEUP NEWS
- Ryan Miller will start in goal tonight.
- no changes to the lines from Monday’s win over Washington
- Nathan Gerbe and Tyler Ennis also took part in today’s morning skate
- Martin Brodeur will start in goal for New Jersey

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING THIS MORNING:

Lindy Ruff (click to hear full audio)
Is it nice to be able to talk hockey, and not injured or new players in the lineup?
Yeah, it’s one of the first times the lineup stays the same. And that’s good. We’d like to build off that last game and try and play as well.

Is it easier to build off a win when you aren’t forced to make changes?
When you can have some consistency with your lines it can only help your team. We saw some real good play last game, and some real good opportunities. Getting some veterans back in the lineup helped.

Were you happy that the number of mental mistakes was much lower on Monday?
We didn’t make a lot; it was one of our cleaner games. For the first 30 minutes we only gave up two or three opportunities, and one of those was earned. It was a better game in a sense of making mistakes.

What do you have to do to beat the Devils tonight?
Their penalty killing is the best in the league. If you can get by that, and create some energy or maybe get a goal, I think it starts there. For the most part they are a team that has real good size. They’ve got some very creative guys up front, and I think they’re a very hard working crew.



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POSTED ON Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 7:30 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / BEYOND THE BOARDS
Brad Boyes returned to a more familiar setting last night, after missing the last 13 games with an ankle injury sustained against Boston on November 23. Being forced to watch games from the press box was frustrating for a guy who had played in 514 consecutive games, and had never missed a game due to injury in his career. But Boyes said there’s more to life in the press box than free hot dogs and coffee.

“It’s definitely a different view from up there; it’s a lot slower than it is on the ice,” he explains. “You can kind of see things open up and develop a little bit, and where the empty spaces are. And just kind of the way the team plays, whether we’re down low or guys are getting pucks to the net or wherever. You read off that, and once you’re back in you have a sense of where guys are gonna go.”



Buffalo heads into New Jersey on Wednesday in search of their first two-game winning streak in almost seven weeks. The Sabres last won back-to-back games as part of a four-game run from November 5-11. With the Eastern Conference so clustered up, going on a streak right now could propel the Sabres into as high as fifth spot by the time the clock runs out on 2011 this Saturday night. Jason Pominville knows how important the team’s next three games are.

“These are four-point games. You either want to catch them or push them back. Our next few are going to be big for us, three games in four nights. It’s going to be important for us to take care of ourselves and be ready to play.”



It may be cliché to say that the league-mandated two-day Christmas break played a part in last night’s win over Washington. But Pominville is one player who believes that the break came at a perfect time for the struggling – and hobbled – Sabres.

“You get to spend time with your family. Not think about hockey, do other things. Not watch the news or the internet. Just focus on your family. Get refreshed and reenergized, and come back to the rink with a smile and start from zero. I think it benefited us, and a lot of guys looked and felt good last night.”
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POSTED ON Monday, 12.26.2011 / 12:32 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE
MORNING SKATE LINES
Vanek-Hecht-Pominville
Stafford-Roy-Boyes
McCormick-Gaustad-Kaleta
Ellis-Adam-Kassian

LINEUP NEWS
- Ryan Miller will start in goal tonight.
- Jochen Hecht and Brad Boyes will return from injury tonight
- Derek Whitmore has been returned to Rochester.

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING THIS MORNING:
Lindy Ruff (click to hear full audio)
How does it feel to have some healthy regulars return to the lineup?
Obviously up front we’ve been a bit thin, so getting (Boyes and Hecht) back should help us.

How did Thomas Vanek do at the morning skate?
Thomas made it through fine. I would anticipate that he’ll play.

How much of a boost is it to the team to start getting guys back in the lineup?
Definitely it’s gonna help, there’s no doubt. Jochen back in the middle should help us against other team’s top lines. Brad was going pretty good when he got hurt. I thought he was good on the power play. It should give us a couple of stronger lines.

Jochen Hecht (click to hear full audio)
Are you excited about returning to the lineup?
It was frustrating getting injured again. But on the other side, I was out there doing my job. If I’ve gotta block a shot, I block a shot. That happens. It’s not what I was looking for. But here we go again.

Do you feel like the team is starting to turn a corner on the injuries?
I hope so. It was pretty rough at one point in the year. But with Boysie coming back and Enzo skating again, hopefully we can turn this thing around and stay healthy for a while.


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POSTED ON Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 3:09 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

MORNING SKATE LINES

Vanek-Roy-Pominville
Stafford-Szczechura-Whitmore
Adam-Gaustad-Kaleta
McCormick-Ellis-Kassian

LINEUP NEWS
- Ryan Miller will start in goal tonight.
- Patrick Kaleta is back in the lineup tonight after missing 8 games with lower body injury
- All seven defensemen will dress for warm-ups; no decision on tonight’s scratches yet.

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING THIS MORNING:
Lindy Ruff (click to hear full audio)
What does it mean to have Kaleta back on special teams?
I think that leadoff pair of Gaustad and Kaleta killing penalties was very good. We’ve thrown some other guys in that situation, and we’ve worked hard with them. But at the same time, there are responsibilities when a player is out that you miss.

When did he start showing improvement in that role?
At the start of summer, we said this is the one area we want you involved with. His skating ability, his willingness to be in the lane and block shots; he’s taken a few that have hurt him. He really started to understand what other teams are trying to do, and he stays in the right lane and is aggressive when he needs to be.
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