MONTREAL – Tyler Myers will find himself in an unfamiliar setting tonight, as he will be a healthy scratch for the first time in his NHL career when the Sabres play the Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Mike Weber will be inserted into the lineup to replace Myers.
Head Coach Lindy Ruff said that Myers needs to improve his decision making process, and Myers is the first to admit he’s capable of better.
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE COMPLETE TYLER MYERS INTERVIEW
“The way I’ve been playing the last three out of four, that’s not good enough for me. I have to be better. I know that, the coaches know that. Until I do, stuff like this is going to happen.
“It’s just one step. Get (mad), come out next game and start playing the game I know I can. To do that, playing a lot more physical will help my game.”
Myers missed just two games in his first two seasons when he was felled by the flu for a pair of games last December 27/28.
Online voting for the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game started today, and Myers is one of four Sabres on the ballot along with Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville.
Fans can access the interactive ballot by logging on to NHL.com/vote. They can also vote via text message using any mobile device and wireless carrier or via a mobile ballot available available on iPhone, Android and other mobile devices. To vote via text message using any wireless carrier, fans should text their favorite player’s last name to the shortcode 81812.
Voting concludes Jan. 4, with the top six vote-getters by position - three forwards, two defensemen and goalie – set to take part in the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game on January 29 in Ottawa.
MONTREAL – In the middle of a weekend stretch that has them playing three games over four nights in three different cities, the Buffalo Sabres opted to hold a team meeting rather than a full practice at the Bell Centre today. The team arrived in Montreal late Saturday night following a 6-2 loss in Boston to the Bruins. A handful of players took part in an optional skate afterwards, including injured forwards Tyler Ennis and Jochen Hecht.
The Sabres are back in action Monday here in Montreal against the Canadiens in a 7 p.m. start that will be televised nationally by Versus. They return home to the First Niagara Center on Wednesday to host the New Jersey Devils at 7:30 p.m. in another game that will also be on Versus.
BOSTON, MA --- Nathan Gerbe spent three years honing his craft at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass., just a short 20-minute drive from the TD Garden in downtown Boston. Tonight he’ll reach an NHL milestone when he plays in his 100th career game against the Boston Bruins, as the Sabres look to extend their winning streak to five games.
It’s a unique opportunity for Gerbe to play this milestone game in a city that still means so much to him.
Gerbe was Hobey Baker finalist in 2008 for Boston College when he led the nation in scoring with 68 points (35+33) in 43 games, and was named Most Outstanding Player in the Frozen Four that season as BC defeated Notre Dame in the championship game.
After a slow start last year with one goal and six assists in his first 24 games, Gerbe finished the season with 15 goals and nine assists over his last 40 games. This year he already has nine points (3+6) in 15 games, giving him 46 points in 99 career games. Gerbe credits his success in the NHL to finally being able to find a comfort level with his game.
“Even last year when the offense wasn’t there, I thought I was playing well, moving well and creating chances. That’s the thing for me; I need to use my legs to create chances on the ice. That’s been a key for me this season, and I need to focus a little more on putting pucks in the net.”
Patrick Kaleta will return to the Sabres lineup tonight after serving a four-game suspension for a head-butt delivered to Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek on November 2. Kaleta will be the first to admit that his aggressive style of play is what makes him tick, but he realizes that he has to watch himself on the ice now as a repeat offender in the eyes of NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan.
“You learn from your mistakes,” said Kaleta today following the team’s optional morning skate in Boston. “It’s like I’ve been saying for the past little while, it’s about changing my game and I’ve been working pretty hard at it since the beginning of summer. It’s a little bump in the road, but I can’t let it bother me.”
Lindy Ruff declined to discuss the team’s goaltending situation after today’s skate. However both goalies were among the 10 players that participated in the optional skate, and Miller was the first of the two goaltenders to leave the ice. This is normally the indicator of who will be starting the game that night.
In Tuesday’s game against Winnipeg, the Buffalo Sabres finished the night winning 50 of 75 faceoffs against the Jets. It was the highest single game total by the Sabres since the NHL started tracking faceoff stats in 1998, and the most by any team since Minnesota won 52 against Carolina on October 7, 2010.
Leading the way for Buffalo was the duo of Paul Gaustad (15-5) and Jason Pominville (12-2), who combined to go 27-7 in the game. The 12 wins were a career high for Pominville, who has quietly developed into one of the team’s most reliable faceoff artists.
Pominville is already at 52.4% (55/105) after 14 games this season, something that assistant coach Kevyn Adams credits to him simply being a good student of the game.
“Jason is very diligent about faceoffs,” explains Adams. “He works hard after practice, and studies a lot of video. He’s also very focused in the faceoff circle; he knows what he needs to do.”
Adams said Pominville’s success is a carryover from what they started last season, and he thinks it will only get better based on the early returns.
Having spent much of the year playing on a line with Luke Adam, the two have been splitting up a lot of the faceoff duties based on their strong side – Pominville is a right shot who excels on the right side, while Adam is a left-handed shot who takes most of the draws on the left side.
Pominville is quick to credit Adams and Gaustad for his continued faceoff development
“Having Paul and Kevyn here, being able to talk about it and practice them every day, I think it’s benefitted me. It’s an important part of the game – if you want to start with the puck you need to win faceoffs.”
INJURY UPDATES: After missing Wednesday’s practice with what he simply termed as a “maintenance day,” Tyler Myers was back on the ice today and expects to play Friday against Ottawa … Tyler Ennis skated today for about 30 minutes. Ruff said there wasn’t any agility skating involved, just several laps around the ice. His status remains week-to-week.
The Buffalo Sabres returned to First Niagara Center for practice on Monday, with much of the attention focused on goaltender Ryan Miller. Head coach Lindy Ruff surprised many observers when he started Jhonas Enroth on Saturday in Ottawa, keeping Miller in a backup role for a second straight game. Enroth backstopped the Sabres to a 3-2 shootout win, improving his record to 4-0-0 along with a 1.41 GAA and .952 save percentage.
Miller said he was informed of the move by Ruff on team’s flight to Ottawa on Friday night. While he was somewhat surprised by it, Miller said he took the change in stride.
Miller hasn’t been in the Sabres net since the team fell behind 3-0 in the first seven minutes against Philadelphia last Tuesday. For Miller, the biggest adjustment in this process has been trying to get used to having some much time in between game action. He’s expected to get the start tomorrow against Winnipeg, and he’s more than ready to get back between the pipes.
“I always try to use my time to the best of my abilities, and this week’s no different. We had practice time, and we also had some down time when I did what I could to just relax. My last outing wasn’t the way you like to leave the ice. You want to go out and do your job. The next chance I get I’ll be ready.”
Ruff said that having a goaltender of Enroth’s capabilities on the bench can be viewed as a luxury for a team like the Sabres, who play a league-high 21 sets of back-to-back games this season.
“Considering we’re the team that plays the most back-to-back games, it’s a good thing for our team. You can stick a fresh goaltender in there that you know is going to play well in those situations. I think it gives us something that could put us almost on a level playing field against the teams that aren’t playing back to back when we walk into their building. I look at is an equalizer for us.”
Jochen Hecht skated on his own after practice today, and Ruff declared him as being “symptom free” again He rode the stationary bike yesterday, and his workouts will continue to ramped up during the week … Ruff said they hope to have Tyler Ennis back in skates this week, however he was cautious to give a definitive timetable for his return. Ennis hasn’t had any problems working out off the ice since the injury, but being able to comfortably get his foot back into a skate will be the key.
While Kaleta contends that he was simply trying to “push the guy off the puck,” he knows that he can’t let it affect his preparation.
“It’s obviously disappointing I can’t be out there with my teammates,” said Kaleta. “It is what it is. I’m going to do everything I can to take the positive out of it: get my body back 100 per cent, go over video, and just be prepared for when I get back so that I’m flying and don’t miss a beat.”
Kaleta also said the 20-minute conversation with Shanahan included a revelation that he can take with him going forward.
“(Shanahan) has watched a couple of our games and said he’s noticed a change in me, which is good. I’m taking positives out of that, and I’ll keep working at it … I’m trying to become a different hockey player.”
Lindy Ruff also expressed his disappointment in having Kaleta forced out of his lineup for the next four games, but realizes that it’s part of the league’s movement to eliminate hits to the head.
“I understand there’s a new standard. Pat’s been playing hard. He’s really worked hard at trying to tone down aspects of his game. At the same point, I understand that a line has gone up. When you go above that and have a reputation with previous incidents, the punishment could be stiffer.”
With Kaleta out of the lineup for a week, the Sabres made the call to Rochester for Corey Tropp to fill his spot on the right side. The 23-year-old Tropp will make his NHL debut tonight against Calgary, after being told yesterday morning he could be getting the call to the big club. He then had to play the waiting game for few hours to get a final answer.
Tropp has seven points (4+3) in 10 games with the Amerks this season, and is tied for the team lead in goals. A native of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, Tropp collected 40 points in 76 games in Portland last season, after playing the previous three years at Michigan State. Tropp was selected in the third round (89th overall) by the Sabres in the 2007 Entry Draft.
A gritty winger who can also find the back of the net, Tropp scored once in three preseason games for the Sabres this fall after an impressive week at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament where he scored the game winner in Buffalo’s championship win over the New York Rangers.
Ruff said his message to Tropp was a simple one.
“I told him I wanted him to score. I told him I wanted him to defend really well. And I told him if he got in a fight, throw ‘em with both hands.”
- Jhonas Enroth is expected to get the start in goal for Buffalo tonight, after stopping all 15 shots he faced in relief of Ryan Miller on Wednesday. Enroth said it doesn’t matter if he faces a team from the Eastern or Western Conference, his preparation is always the same.
“It’s a hockey game. I just go out there and play.”
Click here to listen to Regehr's entire interview with the media.
The 31-year-old Regehr joined the Sabres on June 25 along with Ales Kotalik and a 2012 second-round draft pick in a trade that saw Paul Byron and Chris Butler go west. Originally drafted 19th overall by Colorado in 1998, Regehr had 163 points (29+164) in 826 games with the Flames from 1999-2011.
“I’d love to beat any team. But especially when you’re playing a team that you’ve played with for a long time, the first time you play them you’ll want to beat them. Anytime we go out there, it doesn’t matter against who - we want to win the game. That’s the ultimate goal.”
At 6-foot-3 and 221 pounds Regehr was acquired to add some sandpaper to the Sabres blueline. He’s done that in spades so far, leading the Sabres in hits with 31 through 11 games. But he is also being counted on for his veteran presence, and that’s something the team could use right now as they try to rebound from a 1-3-0 start to their season-high five-game homestand that concludes Friday.
“We need to play a game a certain way, and we need to do it every single time we’re out there. If we do that, things will take care of themselves.”
Patrick Kaleta received a four-game suspension from the NHL today for his head-butt on Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek at 4:58 of the first period in Wednesday’s game. Kaleta will also forfeit $19,621.64 in salary. He is eligible to return to the Sabres lineup on November 12 in Boston.
The Flames are last in the Northwest Division – and 14th overall in the Western Conference – with a 4-5-1 record through 10 games. They open up a three-game road trip tonight in Detroit, and conclude Sunday in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche. Miikka Kiprusoff is 4-4-0 on the season with a 2.50 GAA and .913 save percentage. He played only two periods in his last start, surrendering five goals on 18 shots in a 5-1 loss to Vancouver. No Flames skater has reached double digits in points yet, with Alex Tanguay leading the way with nine points (2+7) in 10 games. Calgary captain Jarome Iginla has just four points (2+2) in 10 games.
Friday’s game is one of the 10 times this season the Sabres will come off a rest day against a team playing its second game in a row.
“I’m not too nervous,” says Weber about getting back in the lineup. “I did play 58 of them last year. I’m just excited to get going and start my season."
Weber had 17 points (4+13) in 58 games for the Sabres in 2010-11, and led the team in hits with 158. He skated almost 17 minutes a game, and finished second on the team with a plus-13 rating. Weber’s minutes increased as the season wore on, including a three-game stretch in late March when he averaged almost 24 minutes a night.
This all came after he sat out Buffalo’s first nine games of last season. Having gone through it before, Weber said it helped him deal with being in the press box for the first 10 games of this season.
“It didn’t kill me. It’s kind of a character builder when you sit out, mentally and physically. Having to do all the extra work, and mentally dealing with being out of the lineup. I think it’s made me a stronger person, and a stronger player. I want to take full advantage of it.”
“The bottom line is I need him to play, before he gets so frustrated that we lose him,” said Ruff. “And that’s the bottom line. He’s worked hard. A player gets to a point where you have to get him in.
“He was an important part of our team (last year). He played good minutes, and he played hard. They’ve got some players we’d like to play hard against, so this game is a good fit for him.”
Ryan Miller is expected to get the start in net for Buffalo. Tyler Ennis remains out week-to-week with an ankle sprain, and Jochen Hecht is out indefinitely with post-concussion symptoms .... The Flyers will be without former Sabre Danny Briere who is nursing an upper body injury. Chris Pronger (eye) and Matt Read (upper body) are also on the mend for Philadelphia.
A lot has changed since we last saw the Philadelphia Flyers in Buffalo. Not only has the arena name since changed, but the Flyers’ overtime villain in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals is now wearing blue and gold. But don’t let Ville Leino’s stone-faced expression fool you: he doesn’t want to see his old employers leave First Niagara Center with two points on Wednesday night.
Leino’s departure for Buffalo as a free agent was just a small part of Philadelphia’s extreme makeover: offseason edition. The Flyers jettisoned veterans Mike Richards (LA) and Jeff Carter (Columbus) in a pair of trades, and acquired netminder Ilya Bryzgalov from Phoenix in an attempt to put an end to the team’s goaltending carousel. Oh yeah, they also signed some free agent by the name of Jaromir Jagr. The name may ring a bell.
Has it helped? The Flyers come into Buffalo with a 6-4-1 record, having lost two of their last three games -- highlighted by a wacky 9-8 loss to Winnipeg last Thursday. Jagr is second in team scoring with 11 points in 11 games, including seven (5+2) in his last four. Byrzgalov is a very ordinary 4-4-1 with a 3.16 GAA and .880 save percentage, and made headlines with his candid post-game comments to the Philadelphia media after allowing four goals on 10 shots against Winnipeg.
But the common denominator to the Flyers’ struggles as of late could simply be the absence of rugged blueliner Chris Pronger, who suffered a scary injury last week when he was struck in the right eye by the stick of Toronto’s Mikhail Grabovski. Pronger dropped to the ice immediately and could clearly be heard screaming as he was rushed off the ice. There was no long-term damage done to the eye, but Pronger has yet to resume skating. He was placed on injured reserve earlier today.
|Chris Pronger (Getty Images)
Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff knows what a player like Pronger means to the Flyers entire lineup.
“He’s a big piece for them. They were going good when he was in there, and they’ve struggled a little bit with him out. He’s been a good player in this league and I think they miss him. I’ve seen the goals go up when he’s out, and I’ve seen the goals go down when he’s in.
Ruff has obviously done his homework on this. The Flyers are 4-2-1 with Pronger in the lineup this season, and 1-2-0 since he’s been injured. They averaged 3.85 goals for in the first seven games, while allowing just an average of 3. Those numbers jump dramatically in the last three games -- 4.67 GF/5 GA -- but they are skewed by the loss to Winnipeg.
Much of today’s practice was spent working on the power play, including Derek Roy manning the point on the first unit in Marc-Andre Gragnani’s usual spot.
“We used the same three up front. Derek was back there for a period of time last year so we’ll see what he can do.”
With Gragnani being moved off the power play, Ruff wouldn’t tip has hand as to whether this would see Mike Weber inserted into the Sabres lineup tomorrow for his first game action of the season.
Today’s practice at First Niagara Center was neither a trick nor a treat for the Buffalo Sabres. It was the first opportunity for Lindy Ruff to put his troops through a workout since Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Florida, and Ruff didn’t let a minute of the high-tempo 60-minute practice go to waste.
“That might have been one of the toughest practices we’ve had in a couple of years,” said Ruff, who was very vocal throughout practice. “I said the other night it wasn’t acceptable – how we acted and how we played. It’s not acceptable. I said that if you’re going to play like that, we’ll practice even harder. That’s just part of coaching.”
“You can go five or six minutes and play really well. Then we’ve done some things that have kind of hurt ourselves and we get on our heels. I don’t think we’ve been the team we were that started the year, and we’re just trying to get back to that.”
Nobody was caught off guard by the tone of today’s practice, especially captain Jason Pominville.
“We kind of expected it. There’s a couple of days before our next game. Coming off a day off, and let’s be honest, a pretty poor effort on our part, I think we needed to get back to basics. That comes with hard work and compete.”
Pominville said that Ruff’s message was received loud and clear.
“I think that’s what we needed. We had a good meeting (prior to practice) and saw some things that we needed to work on. Part of today was about hard work and being better with the puck. Maybe an up-beat, up-tempo practice is what you need. At the end of the day, it should be good for us.”
Ruff tinkered with the lines on Saturday night, and he did more of the same today. The most obvious change has Ville Leino moving between Pominville and Thomas Vanek, with Luke Adam now on a line with Drew Stafford and Derek Roy. Ruff said the move isn’t a knock on Adam; it’s more of an attempt to get Leino on track offensively while playing with the team’s top two scorers. Ruff also wouldn’t commit to Adam or Roy playing center, saying they could both see time at the pivot.
Jochen Hecht didn’t take part in today’s practice, and Ruff didn’t sound too confident when discussing his long-term prognosis.
“He wasn’t doing so well. It’s probably the first time in this process that I’m starting to get concerned.”