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POSTED ON Thursday, 03.01.2012 / 5:09 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

SAN JOSE, Calif. --- It was after 2 a.m. local time when the Buffalo Sabres finally arrived at their hotel in downtown San Jose on Thursday, so there was no morning skate for the team today in advance of tonight’s contest with the Sharks at HP Pavilion. Game time is 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT.

Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff will hold his game-day media availability about two hours before the game. Check back to Sabres.com for later for audio of his press conference along with any lineup news.

A curfew at San Jose International Airport prevents flights from taking off or landing after 11 p.m., so the Sabres actually flew 40 miles further north to Oakland, and followed that up with a 45-minute bus ride back down I-880 to their final destination. It will be more of the same following tonight’s game, with the Sabres not expected to arrive in Vancouver until sometime in the range of 2 a.m.

Of course, more time on the bus after games also allows for more of the most unpredictable conversations you’ll ever have. Last night’s ride featured a lot of pro wrestling talk, as broadcast producer Joe Pinter challenged anyone to name a wrestler so he could dazzle us with random facts about them. And if you think Brian Duff is a walking encyclopedia of NHL facts, you’ll be surprised to know he’s well versed in wrestling lore too, even dropping an Iron Mike Sharpe reference on the group. I also learned something when Kevin Sylvester chimed in with the news that the legendary Adrian Adonis was from Kenmore, NY. A quick check of Wikipedia also taught me that Adonis was killed in a car accident in Newfoundland while swerving to avoid a moose.

But I digress.

The Sabres (28-27-8, 64 points) come into tonight’s game on a 4-0-2 roll, and are trying to earn points in seven consecutive games for the first time this season. They are five points behind eight-place Washington for the final playoff spot in the East, and win tonight would move them into 10th spot – leapfrogging over the idle Maple Leafs and Lightning. The Winnipeg Jets hold down ninth-place in the East, and they could overtake Washington tonight with a win in Florida. The Capitals don’t play again until Friday when the host the New Jersey Devils.

The Sharks (33-22-7, 73 points) are two points behind the Pacific Division-leading Phoenix Coyotes, with one game in hand. San Jose defeated Philadelphia 1-0 on Tuesday, and they are looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since February 2. Tuesday’s game was San Jose’s first at home after a 17-day road trip that saw them stumble to a 2-6-1 mark, and drop them out of first place in the Pacific.

Head coach Todd McLellan is suffering from concussion-like symptoms, and will not be behind the Sharks bench for the second straight game after being struck in the head by an opposing player's stick during Saturday’s game in Minnesota. Jamie McGinn and Minnesota’s Marco Scandella were involved in a play along the boards in front of the Sharks bench when Scandella’s stick came around and “tomahawked” McLellan in the head. He eventually made his way to the Sharks’ locker room under his own power after appearing to collapse behind the bench.



TODAY’S GAME
SABRES at SHARKS
-Only meeting of the season between the Sabres and Sharks.
-When we last met: Buffalo defeated San Jose, 3-0, in San Jose on Jan. 6, 2011.
-The Sabres are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Sharks; 2-4-4 on the road.

STORYLINES
-Buffalo has earned points in six consecutive games (4-0-2) entering tonight’s game, tying the season-high set between Jan. 24 and Feb. 10 (5-0-1). The Sabres last had points in seven straight from Feb. 23 to March 6 last season, when they went 5-0-2.
-Ryan Miller is 4-0-1 in his last five games with a .957 save percentage and a 1.36 goals against average. Miller set a regular season franchise record for most saves in a shutout with 43 saves last night at ANA, topping Dominik Hasek’s 42 saves in a 1-0 win vs. MTL on Dec. 19, 1997.
-With Cody Hodgson’s debut last night, Buffalo has dressed 33 players (30 skaters, 3 goaltenders) this season. It is their highest total since they had the same number in 2003-04. The Sabres have also dressed nine rookies for the first time since 2006-07.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
The Sabres are 4-1-0 against Pacific division teams this season… Buffalo is 24-3-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 20-4-3 when scoring three or more… The Sabres are 16-8-5 with Tyler Ennis in the lineup this season and 7-1-3 when he records a point (34-9-7 in his career)…Buffalo has scored first in their last seven games, going 4-1-2.
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 02.29.2012 / 5:21 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

TONIGHT’S LINES
Vanek-Roy-Pominville
Stafford-Hodgson-Ennis
Gerbe-Leino-Kaleta
Ellis-Boyes-Tropp

LINEUP NEWS
- Cody Hodgson will make his Sabres debut centering Drew Stafford and Tyler Ennis.
- Ville Leino moves back to center between Nathan Gerbe and Patrick Kaleta.
- Ryan Miller is expected to get the start in goal.

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING
Lindy Ruff (click to hear full audio)
How much thought went into your lines, specifically moving Ennis back to the wing?
There’s nothing etched in stone with those lines. We didn’t get a chance to practice them so we really don’t know what they’re going to look like. We can easily take a look at different lines, even during the game. It’s something when you bring players in, it’s always a little bit disruptive because some guys are getting moved out of their spots. With Gaus going out, somebody has to go in that spot. A lot of times it takes a bit of time.

Cody Hodgson (click to hear full audio)
What are your thoughts on being a Buffalo Sabre?
I’m excited. It’s a good group of guys – they’re younger, a lot of offensively-skilled players, steady d-corps, and great goaltending. Hopefully I’ll be able to fit in.

What was your initial reaction to the trade, and where are you at with it now?
I didn’t know what to think. I’m excited, I’m looking forward to it. Like I said, it’s a good group of guys and hopefully I can fit in and do well. I’m interested in helping the team get into the playoff picture.

TODAY’S GAME
SABRES at DUCKS
-This is the second of two meetings between the Sabres and Ducks this season.
-Last meeting: Buffalo defeated Anaheim, 4-1, in Helsinki, Finland to open the regular season on Oct. 7.
-The Sabres are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games vs. the Ducks; 6-4-0 on the road.
-This is the 26th game all-time between Buffalo and Anaheim; Buffalo leads the series with a 14-8-3 record.

STORYLINES
-Buffalo has gotten points in five or more consecutive games for the second time this season (3-0-2) entering tonight’s game. A win or overtime loss would extend the streak to six, tying the season-high set between Jan. 24 and Feb. 10 (5-0-1).
-The Sabres, who have lost their last three road meetings with the Ducks, are looking for their first win in Anaheim since a 5-2 victory on Oct. 34, 2003. Prior to those losses, Buffalo had won five straight in Anaheim.
-Ryan Miller is 3-0-1 in his last four games with a .942 save percentage and a 1.69 goals against average.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
The Sabres are 3-1-0 against Pacific division teams this season… Christian Ehrhoff leads all Sabres with 19 points (5+14) against Anaheim; it is his highest total against any team… Buffalo is 23-3-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 20-4-3 when scoring three or more… The Sabres are 15-8-5 with Tyler Ennis in the lineup this season and 6-1-3 when he records a point (33-9-7 in his career)… Buffalo is 2-3-0 all time on Feb. 29.
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POSTED ON Friday, 02.24.2012 / 11:41 AM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE
TONIGHT’S LINES
Vanek-Roy-Pominville
Leino-Ennis-Stafford
Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta
Tropp-Ellis-Kassian

LINEUP NEWS
- Corey Tropp recalled from Rochester to replace the injured Brad Boyes (day-to-day)
- Robyn Regehr should be back in the lineup after leaving Tuesday’s game with an upper-body injury.
- Ryan Miller is expected to get the start in goal tonight

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING TODAY
Lindy Ruff (click to hear full audio)
Is Brad Boyes going to be able to play tonight?
No, it doesn’t look like it. He skated before, he’s close. But he won’t be able to play.

Is he possible for tomorrow?
He’s just day-to-day, so the obvious answer is possible.

Corey Tropp was injured during his last recall; is his game all the way back now?
He’s come back, played really well. I guess he had a heck of a game (on Wednesday) down in Rochester. He gave us a lot of good hockey. I thought he was one bright spot when he came up with his energy. I thought he was on top of the puck, a tough guy to play against. Really liked the way he played, a real high compete level.

Was the last win over Boston a combination of Buffalo playing well and they weren’t?
I think it was a little bit of both. We got a break early where Christian’s shot went off Campbell. And I think when you get up by a couple and a team starts chasing the game, you’ll get more chances. Not unlike the Pittsburgh game where we took advantage of some early opportunities and the team starts chasing the game. We’ve seen it too where we chase a game and it ends up being five or six against you.

Jason Pominville (click to hear full audio)
Is it safe to say that no game is bigger than the other now because each game is huge?
You're right. It's going to be that way for a little while, and it's been that way for a while as well. Every game is important, and getting even more important as we go on. We've played pretty good lately so we want to keep it rolling in that same direction.

Are you expecting a better game from the Bruins tonight?
I think we played pretty well last time, but at the same time, they might not have had their best night. That's why the score ended up being what it was. Again, they're one of the best teams in the league. They're a proven team with good depth. They're a big team that can skate and defend well, and they've got some offense. They're a good overall team so we'll have to make sure we're on our game.

TONIGHT’S GAME
BRUINS at SABRES

- Fourth of six meetings between the Sabres and Bruins this season.
- Last meeting: Buffalo defeated Boston, 6-0, in Buffalo on Feb. 8
- The teams meet next on Thursday, March 8 in Boston.
- The Sabres are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games vs. the Bruins; 6-1-3 at home.
- This is the 261st game all-time between Buffalo and Boston; Buffalo leads the series with a 113-108-39 record; Buffalo is 69-41-21 all-time against the Bruins at home.

STORYLINES
- The Sabres have two players entering tonight’s game on a four-game point streak: Derek Roy (2+5) and Tyler Myers (2+2). A point by Myers tonight would tie his career-best streak of five games.
- Tonight’s game is the last of four home games in an eight-day span for Buffalo. The Sabres are 2-0-1 in the first three games. After tonight, the team will fly to New York to face the Rangers in the first of five straight road games, before heading West on Monday for matchups with Anaheim, San Jose, Vancouver and Winnipeg.
- Despite sitting out Buffalo’s 6-0 win against Boston earlier this month, Thomas Vanek has scored in each of his last five games against the Bruins, totaling eight points (5+3) in those five games.
- Jason Pominville enters the night tied with Claude Giroux for third in the NHL with 39 points (15+24) in home games. The pair trails only Steven Stamkos (44) and Evgeni Malkin (41) for the lead.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Buffalo has faced Boston more than any other team in franchise history, with 260 games played between the two clubs… Buffalo is 22-3-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 20-4-3 when scoring three or more… The Sabres are 17-4-4 when Derek Roy records a point… The Sabres are 14-8-4 with Tyler Ennis in the lineup this season and 5-1-2 when he records a point (32-9-6 in his career)… Robyn Regehr left Tuesday’s game with an upper body injury.

BESTING THE BRUINS
Thomas Vanek has scored a goal in each of his last five games against the Bruins, registering eight total points in those games (5+3). Vanek’s career numbers of 46 points (35+21) in 42 games against Boston represent his highest goal and point totals against any NHL team. According to Elias Sports Bureau, his 46 points against the Bruins ranks him fifth among all active skaters in the NHL.
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 11:57 AM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE
The Sabres and Islanders close out their season series tonight at First Niagara Center in a 7 p.m. start. Buffalo is looking to win their second game in a row, and second consecutive over the Islanders. In their last meeting on February 4 at Nassau Coliseum, Buffalo rallied from a two-goal first period deficit to defeat New York 4-3 in a shootout. In that game, Ryan Miller became Buffalo's all-time leader in goalie wins with the 235th of his career.

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING

Lindy Ruff (click to hear full audio)
What was the key to your win over the Islanders in your last meeting?
I thought we played a strong first period, but we made a couple of real big mistakes that allowed them to jump on us and get the lead. We outshot them badly, and in the last 40 minutes we had to battle hard to get back in the game. We got that late goal from Gaustad that triggered the comeback. We’d like to play the same first period (tonight), but get rid of the mistakes.

Were you happy with the team’s pushback against Pittsburgh on Sunday?
You talk about momentum inside a game, and pockets of play that you’ve gotta grab momentum from. They had a couple of pockets where they fought back, and we answered by coming back with our own good pockets of play. I think we took some of their will away by the end of the game. I thought if it wasn’t for Fleury coming in and making four or five outstanding saves, we could’ve just put them away altogether.

TODAY’S GAME
ISLANDERS at SABRES
*This is the fourth and final meeting between the Sabres and Islanders this season.
*Last meeting: Buffalo defeated New York, 4-3 (SO), in New York on Feb. 4.
*The Sabres are 3-5-2 in their last 10 games vs. the Islanders; 5-4-1 at home.
*This is the 150th game all-time between Buffalo and New York; Buffalo leads the series with a 72-55-22 record. Buffalo is 40-23-11 against the Islanders at home.

STORYLINES
The Sabres have four players entering tonight’s game on a three-game point streak: Derek Roy (2+3), Tyler Ennis (2+1), Tyler Myers (1+2) and Nathan Gerbe (0+3). For Ennis and Gerbe, the three-game streaks tie the longest point streaks of their careers… Paul Gaustad has seven points in his last 10 games (3+4)… The Sabres got two points on Sunday afternoon after four straight games without a win, beating the Penguins by a score of 6-2 at home.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Jason Pominville is ranked fourth in the NHL with 37 points (15+22) in home games; Pominville has 23 points (5+18) in 24 career games against the Islanders… Buffalo is 21-3-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 20-4-3 when scoring three or more… The Sabres are 16-4-4 when Derek Roy records a point and 14-4-1 when Christian Ehrhoff records a point… In his career, Buffalo is 32-9-6 when Tyler Ennis records a point (5-1-2 this season).

GOOSE IS LOOSE
Paul Gaustad has converted on 20 percent of his shots in the last 10 games, scoring three goals on 15 shots. Gaustad, who has averaged a TOI of 16:28during that stretch, has also been hot on the draw recently. His faceoff percentage of 61.7 percent during those games has improved his season numbers to 56.8 percent, good for ninth in the league.
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POSTED ON Friday, 02.17.2012 / 1:02 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE
LINEUP NEWS
- The team held a meeting this morning, with only a handful of players skating afterwards.
- Ryan Miller is expected to start in goal.
- Cody McCormick will miss his fourth straight game due to injury.

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING
Lindy Ruff (click to hear full audio)
What is the team’s spirit like after last night’s game?
Mentally, we obviously let that game slip away. Some of it was mental mistakes. And I’ll stick to the fact that our defense as a group didn’t play well in front of our goaltenders and that really hurt us.

How do you help them improve their mental toughness?
I think it’s by the repetition of staying with it. We showed some situation clips and some system clips that we got away from. I think part of it is on the forward front is the frustration in the lack of scoring. We got the 2-0 lead, and we got a little but away from our system. You still have to play well in your own end. You still have to make sure that when you’re forechecking, if a couple of guys get caught, the third guy has got to stay high. We cheated in a few situations and it cost us dearly.

Jason Pominville (click to hear full audio)
Despite the three straight losses, what gives you the belief that you can move up the standings?
That there’s still a lot of points available, there’s still a lot of games to be played. Like I said last night, it was probably one of worst efforts defensively all year. But we’re right back at it tonight against a team that’s right there with us battling for their lives. Tonight is a game we have to win. Losing three games in a row is just not good enough at any time of year, but even more so at this time.

T
ONIGHT’S GAME
CANADIENS at SABRES

-Fourth of six meetings between the Sabres and Canadiens this season.
-Last meeting: Buffalo defeated Montreal, 3-1, in Montreal on Jan. 31.
-The teams meet next on Monday, March 12 in Buffalo.
-The Sabres are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games vs. the Canadiens; 6-2-2 at home.
-This is the 251st game all-time between Buffalo and Montreal; the Sabres are 114-100-36 against the Canadiens (66-34-23 at home).

STORYLINES
-The Sabres have won their last six games against the Canadiens, dating back to Nov. 27, 2010 (3-1 loss). Buffalo’s record for most consecutive wins against Montreal is nine, from Oct. 30, 1983 to Oct. 11, 1984.
-Buffalo has already won all three of this season’s matchups between these teams in Montreal.
-Tonight’s meeting between the Sabres and Canadiens marks the 251st game between the two teams. The Sabres are 114-100-36 in these games. Buffalo has only faced Boston more times (260 GP).

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Jason Pominville enters tonight’s game on a six-game point streak (5+2)… Pominville is the sixth player in Sabres history to record 30 assists in six consecutive seasons… Buffalo is 20-3-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 19-4-2 when scoring three or more.

LEADING THE WAY AGAINST MONTREAL
Derek Roy has four points (1+3) against the Canadiens this season and leads all Sabres with 34 (12+22) in 44 career games against the Habs. Three other players have three points in three games against Montreal this year: Christian Ehrhoff (1+2), Paul Gaustad (1+2) and Thomas Vanek (1+2).
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POSTED ON Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 2:07 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

TONIGHT’S LINES
Leino-Roy-Pominville
Gerbe-Ennis-Vanek
Stafford-Gaustad-Kaleta
Ellis-Boyes-Kassian

LINEUP NEWS
- Jhonas Enroth will start in goal tonight
- This will be Enroth’s first start since January 18 in Chicago.
- Thomas Vanek moves to RW with Tyler Ennis and Nathan Gerbe.

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING
Jhonas Enroth (click to hear full audio)
It’s been a few weeks in between starts, do you feel any extra pressure tonight?
I guess, but I like pressure. It’s always fun to play with pressure on you and when it’s a little bit more important. It’s a little bit easier to get ready for games with a lot of pressure on the line.

What do you remember about playing in Philadelphia during the playoffs?
I remember that it’s a really good atmosphere in here and the fans are crazy and real loud. It’s fun, and I’m really excited about playing here tonight.

Lindy Ruff (click to hear full audio)
Would you agree that Jhonas seemed to be getting his game back over his last few starts?
It did seem like it. I don’t think as a team we played that well in Chicago. And I look at the game he played on Long Island, that was a strong game. Obviously we’ll need to play a strong game in front of him.

What went into your decision to play him tonight instead of Friday at home?
It’s based a little bit on how we’ve played against Philly, and the numbers. Being at home is a better situation for us, but based on that conversation we decided to go in that direction.

TONIGHT’S GAME
SABRES at FLYERS
-Third of four meetings between the Sabres and Flyers this season.
-Last meeting: Philadelphia defeated Buffalo, 5-4 (OT), in Buffalo on Dec. 7.
-The Sabres are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Flyers; 6-4-0 on the road.
-This is the 156th game all-time between Buffalo and Philadelphia; Buffalo trails the series with a 61-72-23 record. Buffalo is 23-43-13 on the road against the Flyers all-time.
-The two teams will meet for the final time this season on Thurs., Apr. 5 in Philadelphia.

STORYLINES
- Buffalo has won its last three on the road and will look to win four straight road games for the first time since winning the first four road games of the season (Oct. 8 to Oct. 20). They haven’t won more than four in a row on the road since winning their first 10 road games of the 2006-07 season.
- Jason Pominville leads all Sabres with 23 points (10+13) in 24 career games against the Flyers, including six (2+4) in his last four. Pominville also had four (1+3) points in five games against Philadelphia in last season’s playoffs.
- Pominville, who now has six 50-point seasons in his career, is the 11th player in Sabres history to record 50 points in six or more seasons. He joins Gilbert Perreault (16), Dave Andreychuk (10), Rick Martin (9), Phil Housley (8), Craig Ramsay (8), Rene Robert (7), Mike Foligno (6), Danny Gare (6), Don Luce (6) and Miroslav Satan (6).

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Jason Pominville enters tonight’s game on a five-game point streak (4+2)… Pominville is the sixth player in Sabres history to record 30 assists in six consecutive seasons… Buffalo is 20-3-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 19-4-2 when scoring three or more… 18 of the Sabres’ last 23 games have been decided by two goals or less… The Sabres are 15-3-3 when Derek Roy records at least one point.


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POSTED ON Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 11:38 AM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE
LINEUP NEWS
- Lindy Ruff will be back behind the bench, wearing a protective jacket.
- Christian Ehrhoff is sick; Ruff says he’s questionable for tonight.
- If Ehrhoff can’t go, Marc-Andre Gragnani would be inserted into the lineup.
- Ryan Miller is expected to make his 10th consecutive start.

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING
Lindy Ruff (click to hear full audio)
Have you made a decision for yourself tonight?
Yeah – I’m gonna give it a go. I’m gonna try to find my way through it … I’ll have James there, and we’ll leave Teppo down on the bench too just for extra help … I wasn’t exactly enjoying myself upstairs. You miss the intensity of the game. Sitting up there is fine, but there’s a lot you miss out on. …

Is Christian Ehrhoff sick or hurt?
He’s sick; we had him go to our doctor this morning. We don’t know what his status will be for tonight. If he’s better, he may come in. If he’s not, he won’t be in.

If Marc-Andre Gragnani replaces Ehrhoff, what does he have to do to impress you?
We need the two points; we need him to play well. He understands that some of the battle wasn’t there when he was playing. We feel that with a bigger effort, he can easily fill in and be a reliable defenseman.

TONIGHT’S GAME
DEVILS at SABRES
- Fourth and final meeting between the Sabres and Devils this season.
- Last meeting: Buffalo defeated New Jersey, 2-1 (SO), in New Jersey on Jan. 24.
- The Sabres are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Devils; 5-3-2 at home.
- This is the 136th game all-time between Buffalo and New Jersey; Buffalo is 69-44-22 against the Devils (36-21-10 at home).

STORYLINES
- Ryan Miller is 5-1-1 in his last seven games with two shutouts, with a 1.23 GAA and a .958 SV%.
- The Sabres have points in 13 of their last 14 home games (7-2-5).
- Buffalo has seen 11 of their last 14 home games decided by one goal. Of their 29 home games this season, 19 have been decided by just one goal. The Sabres are 7-6-6 in these games.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Jordan Leopold has points (2+3) in each of his last five games against the Devils… Jason Pominville enters tonight’s game on a four-game point streak (3+2)… The Sabres are 12-6-3 (.643) with Tyler Ennis in the lineup… Buffalo is 20-3-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 19-4-2 when scoring three or more… Eighteen of the Sabres’ last 22 games have been decided by two goals or less… The Sabres are 15-3-3 when Derek Roy records at least one point.

HOT AT HOME
Entering Monday night’s games, Jason Pominville was tied for fourth in the league with 33 points in 29 home games. Thomas Vanek is
also at a point-per-game pace at First Niagara Center, tallying 27 points in 27 games.





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO HEAR FULL VANEK AUDIO

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

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

CLICK TO HEAR FULL RUFF AUDIO

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

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

Vanek understands that could be the case.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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