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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.09.2012 / 11:59 AM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE
EDMONTON vs. PORTLAND (TIED 2-2)
Rhett Rachinski scored 9:07 into overtime to give the Edmonton Oil Kings a 4-3 win in Game 4 last night in Portland, evening their WHL Championship series at 2-2. Mark Pysyk picked up an assist on Stephane Legault’s second period goal, giving him two points (0+2) in the series. Pysyk has nine points (2+7) in 17 playoff games, along with a plus-five rating and 12 PIMs.

* Game 4 highlights and post-game interviews (courtesy of EdmontonOilers.com)
* Game 4 Scoring Summary

UP NEXT: Game 5 - Thursday @ Edmonton, 9 p.m. ET (Listen Live)


ONTARIO HOCKEY LEAGUE
NIAGARA vs. LONDON (LONDON LEADS 2-1)
The London Knights have won two straight, and they are looking to take a stranglehold on the OHL Championship series tonight when Game 4 is played in St. Catharines. Niagara won the first game in double OT on a goal by Dougie Hamilton, but the Knights bounced back with consecutive wins to take a 2-1 series lead. Steven Shipley’s assist on Brett Ritchie’s power play goal in Game Three was his first point in six games, giving him eight points (5+3) in 18 games.

UP NEXT: Game 4 - Tonight @ Gatorade Garden City Complex in St. Catharines, 7 p.m. (Listen Live)


QUEBEC MAJOR JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
RIMOUSKI vs. SAINT JOHN (SAINT JOHN LEADS 2-0)
The Rimouski Oceanic and Saint John Sea Dogs have played a pair of 3-2 games to start their QMJHL Presidents Cup series, but the top-ranked Sea Dogs have had the upper hand in both contests to take a 2-0 lead heading into tonight’s Game 3 in Rimouski. Jerome Gauthier-Leduc has recorded an assist in each game, and he now leads all QMJHL defensemen with 17 points (8+9) in 19 games this spring for the Oceanic.

UP NEXT: Game 3 - Tonight @ Rimouski, 7:30 p.m. (Listen Live)
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POSTED ON Friday, 05.04.2012 / 1:49 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

EDMONTON 3 – PORTLAND 2
Mark Pysyk had one assist and was named the game’s first star, as the Edmonton Oil Kings opened up the WHL Championship with a 3-2 win over the top-ranked Portland Winterhawks. Pysyk, Buffalo first selection (20th overall) in the 2010 Entry Draft, assisted on Edmonton’s first goal just 1:25 into the game when his point shot was tipped in front by Rhett Rachinski.

"I thought Mark (Pysyk) was outstanding tonight," Edmonton head coach Derek Laxdal told EdmontonOilers.com after the game

* Video highlights, interviews and game recap (EdmontonOilers.com)
* Game Summary

UP NEXT: Game 2, tonight @ Rexall Place in Edmonton, 9 p.m. ET (Listen Live)



NIAGARA 3 – LONDON 2 (2OT)
The Niagara IceDogs took Game One of the OHL Rogers Cup championship with a 3-2 win in double overtime over the London Knights. Boston Bruins draft pick Dougie Hamilton scored the game winner at 9:13 of the second overtime. Sabres prospect Steven Shipley was held off the scoresheet for Niagara.

* Game Recap (St. Catharines Standard)
* Game Summary

UP NEXT: Game 2, Saturday @ Gatorade Garden City Complex in St. Catharines, 7 p.m. (Listen Live)



RIMOUSKI AT SAINT JOHN
Jerome Gauthier-Leduc and the Rimouski Oceanic play Game One of the QMJHL Presidents Cup tonight in New Brunswick against the Sea Dogs. Game time is 7 p.m. ET (Listen Live)


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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.02.2012 / 3:34 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

The postseason rolls on for three Sabres prospects, as each of their teams have advanced to their respective league championships in the Canadian Hockey League. Mark Pysyk (Edmonton, WHL) and Steven Shipley (Niagara, OHL) will start their series on Thursday, while Jerome Gauthier-Leduc (Rimouski, QMJHL) will have to wait until Friday to play Game One. The champions from the OHL, WHL and QMJHL will then advance to the 2012 Memorial Cup in Shawinigan, Quebec, from May 18-27.

Catch up with each of the three players below, along with links to follow their live game action.

Pysyk
MARK PYSYK (D) - Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL
Drafted: 2010, 1st round (20th overall)
Contract Status: Signed 3-year entry level contract (June 2, 2011)

Pysyk has seven points (2+5) in 13 games, as the red-hot Oil Kings have only lost one game in the playoffs. Edmonton had won 22 straight games (last 11 regular season, first 11 playoffs) before being handed a 5-1 loss to Moose Jaw in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Final. Pysyk has used his puck-moving skills to front a stellar-defensive corps that has given up just 22 goals in 13 games – including two shutouts and seven other games when they have allowed just one goal.

Pysyk had 38 points (6+32) and 83 PIMs in 57 games this season, and also won a bronze medal with Team Canada at the World Junior Championship.

UP NEXT: Edmonton will host Portland at Rexall Place in the first two games of their best-of-seven Ed Chynoweth Cup Final. Game One is Thursday at 9 p.m. ET (Click here to listen live)


Gauthier-Leduc
JEROME GAUTHIER-LEDUC (D) - Rimouski Oceanic, QMJHL
Drafted: 2010, 3rd round (68th overall)
Contract Status: Signed 3-year entry level contract (December 30, 2011)

Gauthier-Leduc heads into the final with 15 points (8+7) in 17 games, after being held pointless in two of Rimouski’s last three games. His eight goals are the most among all CHL defensemen in the playoffs, and he needs just two points to surpass Halifax’s Konrad Abeltshauser as the QMJHL’s top scoring blueliner in the postseason. The 19-year-old led all Canadian Hockey League defensemen in goals (28) this season, and his 74 points in 62 games were tied with Spokane’s Brenden Kichton for the most among all CHL defensemen.

UP NEXT: Rimouski opens up their best-of-seven President Cup Final series on Friday in Saint John against the top-ranked Sea Dogs at 7 p.m. ET. (Click here to listen live)


Shipley
STEVEN SHIPLEY (C) - Niagara IceDogs, OHL
Drafted: 2010, 4th round (98th overall)
Contract Status: Unsigned

Shipley has seven points (5+2) in 15 games for the IceDogs, contributing most of his ice time as a checking center. All five of his goals came in three consecutive games during the first round against Oshawa. Shipley is coming off the second 20-goal season of his junior career, recording 22 goals and 49 points in 63 games played.

UP NEXT: Niagara travels to London for Game One of the best-of-seven OHL Championship Series on Thursday, with Game Two at the Gatorade Garden City Complex in St. Catharines on Friday. Both games start at 7 p.m. (Click here to listen live).



Josh Gabriel (6’, 185 lbs., 2/13/1996) continued a successful offseason for the Buffalo Junior Sabres program, as he was selected in the second round of yesterday’s United States Hockey League (USHL) Draft by the Tri City Storm. The Lancaster, NY-native had 54 points (30+24) in 61 games this season for the 16U Jr. Sabres. Gabriel joins two other 16U Jr. Sabres that were picked in the Ontario Hockey League Draft on April 7. Defenseman Frank Hora (6’, 164, 6/1/1996) was drafted in the eighth round (147th overall) by Kitchener, while right winger Brendan Dunning (7/19/1996) was taken by Niagara in the 10th round (199th overall.)

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POSTED ON Thursday, 04.26.2012 / 11:24 AM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS


Before the Capitals and Bruins squared off in Game 7 last night in Boston, I predicted that all three of the Game 7’s that were to be played this week would go into overtime. Well, that’s one down and two to go.

Regardless of the outcome, the least surprising thing about last night’s game was how long it took to be decided. When Joel Ward scored at 2:57 of overtime, it was the ninth time in 15 overtime games (60%) this spring that a game has ended in the first five minutes of sudden death. Taking it one step further, 11 of the 15 games (73.3%) have been decided in the first 10 minutes.

Ending a game in the first 10 minutes of overtime has been the trend over the past seven postseasons. Of the 122 overtime games played since the lockout, 74 have ended in the first 10 minutes – an overwhelming 61 percent of the games. It’s also not uncommon for a game to end in the first five minutes like it did last night. Ward’s goal marked the 47th time in 122 games (38%) since the 2006 playoffs that a team has scored the game winner in the opening five minutes of overtime.

This year’s playoff teams are also going to overtime at a record pace. With 15 of the first 46 (32.6%) requiring extra time, they are on pace to play 29 overtime games. That would break the Stanley Cup Playoff record set in 1993, when 28 of 85 games went into overtime.

Following is a chart that breaks down the number of overtime games that have been played over the past seven postseasons, specifically detailing exactly at what point in the game the winning goal was scored.

YEAR TOTAL OT GAMES FIRST 5 MINS FIRST 10 MINS 10-15 MIN MARK LAST 5 MINS DOUBLE OT TRIPLE OT QUAD OT
2012 15 9 11 2 0 2 0 0
2011 21 6 12 3 1 5 0 0
2010 17 5 11 4 0 1 1 0
2009 16 8 11 1 3 0 1 0
2008 16 7 11 2 0 1 1 1
2007 17 2 5 3 1 7 0 1
2006 20 10 13 1 1 4 1 0
TOTALS 122 47 74 16 6 20 4 2

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 04.24.2012 / 3:12 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Three Buffalo Sabres prospects remain in the hunt for their respective league championships in the Canadian Hockey League playoffs. The champions from the OHL, WHL and QMJHL will then advance to the 2012 Memorial Cup in Shawinigan, Quebec, from May 18-27. The four-team round-robin tournament will also include the host Shawinigan Cataractes.

Catch up with each of the three players below, along with links to follow their live game action.

Pysyk
MARK PYSYK (D) - Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL
Drafted: 2010, 1st round (20th overall)
Contract Status: Signed 3-year entry level contract (June 2, 2011)

Pysyk, Edmonton’s captain, has five points (2+3) in 10 games this postseason. Both of his goals have come on special teams – one SHG and one PPG. He carries a plus-3 ranking into tonight’s Game Three, along with eight penalty minutes. The 20-year-old Pysyk had 38 points (6+32) and 83 PIMs in 57 games this season, and also won a bronze medal with Team Canada at the World Junior Championship.

UP NEXT: Edmonton leads Moose Jaw 2-0 in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Championship series. Game Three will be played tonight in Moose Jaw at 9 p.m. ET (Click here to listen live)


Gauthier-Leduc
JEROME GAUTHIER-LEDUC (D) - Rimouski Oceanic, QMJHL
Drafted: 2010, 3rd round (68th overall)
Contract Status: Signed 3-year entry level contract (December 30, 2011)

Gauthier-Leduc has averaged a point per game during the postseason, totaling 13 points (6+7) in 13 games for the Oceanic. The 19-year-old led all Canadian Hockey League defensemen in goals (28) this season, and his 74 points in 62 games were tied with Spokane’s Brenden Kichton for the most among all CHL defensemen.

UP NEXT: Rimouski leads Halifax 2-0 in their best-of-seven President Cup Semifinal series. Game Three will be played tonight in Rimouski at 7:30 p.m. ET (Click here to listen live in English or French)


Shipley
STEVEN SHIPLEY (C) - Niagara IceDogs, OHL
Drafted: 2010, 4th round (98th overall)
Contract Status: Unsigned

Shipley, who turned 20 on Sunday, has played in all 13 playoff games for the IceDogs this spring as they’ve already rolled to series wins over Oshawa (4-0) and Brampton (4-2). He has posted seven points (5+2) in 13 games, with his five goals coming in three consecutive games against Oshawa. Shipley is coming off the second 20-goal season of his junior career, recording 22 goals and 49 points in 63 games played.

UP NEXT: Niagara leads Ottawa 2-1 in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Championship. Game Four will take place on Wednesday in Ottawa at 7 p.m. (Click here to listen live). Niagara will host Game Five at the Gatorade Garden City Complex in St. Catharines on Friday at 7 p.m. (Click here for ticket info)

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.04.2012 / 1:59 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

On the heels of last night’s stirring 6-5 overtime win against Toronto, the Buffalo Sabres received some bad news today regarding defenseman Tyler Myers. Following practice at First Niagara Center, head coach Lindy Ruff confirmed that Myers will not be available for the team’s final two regular season games this week in Philadelphia and Boston.

“He won’t be on the trip. Tyler’s out. It’ll be a period of time,” said Ruff. “What time frame that is? It’s more than just this week.”

Ruff wouldn’t divulge any specific details of the injury, only saying that Myers has a “bad foot.” Myers has missed the past two games after taking a shot to the foot late in Friday’s loss to Pittsburgh.

The absence of both Myers and Christian Ehrhoff has created a noticeable void on the Buffalo blueline. The Sabres have allowed 14 goals in their past three games (including an empty netter vs. Pittsburgh), after surrendering just three in their previous four – victories over Washington, Minnesota, New York Rangers and Montreal. In last night’s game, Toronto jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead on just 13 shots on goal.

Andrej Sekera

Not only have the Sabres missed the offensive skills of Myers and Ehrhoff, but other players have been forced into extra ice time in unfamiliar roles. Andrej Sekera misplayed a puck into a first period shorthanded goal for Toronto on Saturday, and was on the ice for all three of Toronto’s first period goals last night. After averaging around 18 minutes in his previous three games, Alexander Sulzer has averaged 23 minutes a night in the past two games. Jordan Leopold has led the Sabres in ice time over the last three games, eclipsing the 25 minute mark each night.

Ruff realizes the challenges that lie ahead for his blueliners, but also knows that tightening up defensively and limiting scoring chances will be the keys to sustaining their push for a playoff spot.

“We went through that game, we went through the first period, went through the chances, and emphasized the importance of staying inside some of the mistakes we made. Some of it was lack of communication. Some of it was the coverage. But we do have to tighten up, there’s no secret," Ruff explained. "That’s on myself and my staff to make sure that we tighten up those areas so it’s not a game where you give 16 or 17 (chances). We’ve got to get it back to the norm, which is somewhere around 10 or 11, in that area. And not give up the high quality.

"We worked hard on that this morning, went through that with the players. We understand that we know how to play, and we know how to play in our own end. It should be an easier fix. Some of it is adapting to the players we have in. Some of it is just system related."

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POSTED ON Monday, 04.02.2012 / 3:16 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

The Buffalo Sabres will be missing their top two defensemen again tomorrow when the Toronto Maple Leafs come to town, in the back end of the home-and-home series that started with a 4-3 Toronto win on Saturday at the Air Canada Centre.

Myers
Tyler Myers missed Saturday’s game with a foot injury, after absorbing a shot to the boot against Pittsburgh on Friday. Myers didn’t practice with the team today, but Lindy Ruff said he hasn’t ruled out Myers returning this week for Buffalo’s final two games in Philadelphia and Boston.

The news isn’t so good on Christian Ehrhoff, who was injured in Washington last Tuesday. Ruff did rule out Ehrhoff for the rest of the regular season, but said there’s a chance he could return for the playoffs if the Sabres were to qualify.

The absence of both players creates a huge void on the Buffalo blueline, and that was evident in Saturday’s loss to the Maple Leafs.

“If you take two of your top defensemen out of any team in the league, you’re a different team. You can go to almost any team and that’s the case,” said Ruff. “I thought we did some good things in the game, but we made some mistakes. We had some players in situations maybe they hadn’t been in, and it allowed Toronto to get the upper hand.”

LISTEN TO COMPLETE LINDY RUFF INTERVIEW

Ellis
Brayden McNabb and TJ Brennan are still with the team after being recalled on an emergency basis Saturday, and they could both be in the lineup again on Tuesday. But Mike Weber went through a full practice today after also missing Saturday’s game with an injury, and Ruff said he could also be available to play tomorrow.

In other injury news, Matt Ellis has been cleared to play and could be ready to go on Tuesday if needed. Ellis has missed the last 10 games since injuring his knee in Ottawa on March 10. Nathan Gerbe continues his recovery from an upper body muscle strain. Ruff classified him as a “maybe” for Tuesday, saying that he could be at the point where he’s able to return to game action.



Buffalo’s red-hot 10-4-2 run through March enable the team to get back into playoff contention, and it also contributed to a pair of Sabres receiving monthly individual honors from the NHL. Ryan Miller was named as the NHL’s Third Star of the month, and Marcus Foligno was recognized as the league’s Rookie of the Month.

Foligno
Foligno was recalled for the second time this season on March 10, and scored his first career goal that night in Ottawa. He finished the month with 11 points (6+5) in 11 games, including two-goal performances less than a week apart against Colorado (Mar. 14) and Tampa Bay (Mar. 19).   

“It’s amazing what has happened this month, not just for myself, but the run the team has gone on,” said Foligno. “At the same time, it’s an honor to be Rookie of the Month. There are some great players in this league. For me to come in like I did and have success with Ennis and Stafford has been huge. I have to give those guys a lot of credit for my success.”

LISTEN TO COMPLETE MARCUS FOLIGNO INTERVIEW

Miller compiled a 10-3-2 record with a 2.17 goals-against average, .930 save percentage and two shutouts while starting 15 of Buffalo’s 16 March games. He won five straight starts from March 19-27, and went 10 consecutive games without suffering a regulation defeat (March 7-27, 8-0-2). Miller has started 11 straight games; 21 of the last 22 games; and 31 of Buffalo's last 33.

Despite joining Ilya Bryzgalov and Evgeni Malkin as the league’s monthly award winners, Miller’s focus continues to be on one thing: winning the next game. That’s something they didn’t do in either game over the weekend.

Miller
“I guess it’s not something to sit and celebrate. I probably would approach it the same way: that month’s over, and we’re into the last month of our regular season. I just want to be good now.”

LISTEN TO COMPLETE RYAN MILLER INTERVIEW

Buffalo’s two weekend losses, combined with Washington’s shootout win over Montreal on Saturday, leaves them two points back of the Capitals for eighth place in the Eastern Conference – with each team having three games left to play. However, Buffalo can’t finish the season in a tie with Washington because the Capitals own the tiebreaker. A win by Washington tonight in Tampa would almost force the Sabres to run the table with three straight wins to end the season in order to keep themselves in the postseason conversation.

“We just need to win and take care of our business,” Miller said today. “The focus becomes Tuesday. We had a tough weekend. We didn’t do what we needed to do. We didn’t play the way we probably needed to play. We’ve gotta do the job now and see how it falls.”

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POSTED ON Monday, 03.26.2012 / 1:05 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com / 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 Thursday, 03.22.2012 / 3:42 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com / 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 Tuesday, 03.20.2012 / 3:28 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS
The Buffalo Sabres collected four of six points with defenseman Tyler Myers watching from the press box. Tomorrow night, he will return to the lineup when the Sabres host the Montreal Canadiens at 7 p.m. at First Niagara Center.
 
Myers was suspended three games for hitting Canadiens forward Scott Gomez into the boards from behind during the team’s last match-up on March 12. Myers was called for boarding on the play and Gomez has not played since. The suspension was the first of Myers' career.
 
If there is any retaliation coming from the Canadiens tomorrow, Myers told the media after this afternoon's team meeting that he’s not thinking about it.
 
“I’m going to approach tomorrow night like any other game. It’s in the past. I didn’t mean to hurt him,” Myers said. “That’s not my intention to go in looking to kill a guy, so whatever happens happens. I’m just going to go into that game and focus on getting two points.”
 
With Myers back, the Sabres have seven healthy defensemen ready to go. Christian Ehrhoff, Jordan Leopold, Robyn Regehr, Andrej Sekera, Alexander Sulzer and Mike Weber round out the back end and one will have to sit. Ruff said that he’d like to keep all seven playing so it’s likely that sixth spot will be rotated on a nightly basis.
 
“It’s a great situation for us to be in. We would’ve begged to have been this healthy three months ago,” said head coach Lindy Ruff. “For me, it’s tough, but the way the seven guys have played, we’re going to need them all.”
 
Goaltender Ryan Miller was impressed by the defense’s play during Myers’ absence but he said that he’s excited to have the 6-foot-8 d-man back on the ice.
 
“I thought our D corps played really well but we do miss his skating ability, his range,” Miller said. “…Everybody looked like they were playing pretty well with their partner so it’s good to see that we’ve got guys able to step in and play. Tyler’s a key part of this team and we need him to be on the top of his game.”
 

 
ADDITIONAL LINKSM
Lindy Ruff Interview
Drew Stafford Interview
Ryan Miller Interview
Tyler Myers Interview
Buffalo currently sits in ninth place in the East with 78 points, two behind eighth-place Washington. Winnipeg, currently in 10th place, can get themselves up to 78 points as well with a win tonight in Pittsburgh. Washington is off until Thursday when they play the Flyers in Philadelphia.
 
With three more games this week, the Sabres know it’s going to continue to be a tough battle to get into the playoffs.
 
“Obviously we need a little bit of help but we’re not worried about that,” said forward Drew Stafford. “We’re worried about taking care of our own business here. We’re worried about winning our games and then whatever happens is out of our hands.”
 
The Sabres have nine games to go this season and two more sets of back-to-backs, including this weekend when they travel to play the Rangers on Friday and then come back to Buffalo to host the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. The next three games lead up to what could be a showdown with major playoff implications against Washington on March 27.
 
“For us, it’s just knowing that we have to take care of two points at a time,” Miller said. “We really just have to keep pace until we can play a team like Washington and hopefully get a swing.”
 

 
Jochen Hecht, Patrick Kaleta, Derek Roy and Myers were among the few players who took the ice.
 
Ruff updated the media on the conditions of Hecht and Nathan Gerbe and Matt Ellis. Ellis has been out since March 11 with a knee injury. Ruff said that while he’s doing a lot better, he still isn’t close to returning to the lineup.
 
The team had hoped Gerbe would be able to play during the Florida trip. He’s missed the last three games with an upper-body injury.
 
“He’s just not responding to treatment,” Ruff said. “He’s skated on his own but just can’t quite get over the hump.”
 
Hecht is still skating in a non-contact role.
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