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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 2:43 PM
By Kevin Snow - (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

- 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.

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.
POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 2:21 PM
By Kevin Snow - (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE


- 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.

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.

POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 5:36 PM
By Kevin Snow - (@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.

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


- 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.
POSTED ON Friday, 01.13.2012 / 12:05 PM
By Kevin Snow - (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE


- 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.

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.

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

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, 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.”
POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.10.2012 / 1:17 PM
By Kevin Snow - (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE


- 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.

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.
POSTED ON Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 4:22 PM
By Kevin Snow - (@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 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.
POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 11:31 AM
By Kevin Snow - (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE


- 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.

- 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.
POSTED ON Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 3:55 PM
By Kevin Snow - (@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.


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.”