COLUMBUS – The last time the Buffalo Sabres called up Chad Ruhwedel, he didn’t play in a game. However, he’ll be in Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets when the two teams face off at Nationwide Arena at 7 p.m.
Ruhwedel was recalled from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League after practice on Friday and made the trip to Columbus with the team. He’s looking forward to the opportunity to show the Sabres front office and coaching staff what he can do and said he received some good advice from Amerks captain Drew Bagnall before he left.
“He actually texted me saying, ‘Make sure you dance with the girl that brought you to the dance,’” Ruhwedel said after the team’s morning skate in Columbus. “So just do what you did that got you here and that’s why I’m here – from what I was doing in the American League and I’m just going to try to keep doing the exact same thing.”
Ruhwedel, 23, leads all Amerks defensemen with four goals and 17 points this season, his first full season as a pro. He played seven games with the Sabres last season and was primarily paired with Mike Weber.
Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan is hoping Ruhwedel’s ability to move the puck up ice quickly with a good first pass will help bolster the team’s defense and set up some offense.
“Today’s his day,” Nolan said. “One thing about him, he can skate and we need good puck-moving defensemen. Everybody looks for them. He’ll have his opportunity tonight.”
Nolan also said it’s possible that Ruhwedel could see some time on the power play.
The Sabres are also hoping to snap the Blue Jackets’ eight-game winning streak. The two teams met on Jan. 18 in Buffalo with Columbus coming out on top 4-3 in the shootout.
“Confidence is a wonderful thing, when you get on that roll and you believe you can win. Right now they’re on a good streak. They believe all stuff they’re doing is working,” Nolan said. “One thing I admired about them the last time playing them is their work ethic. They might be having some breaks and their confidence is good, but you have no confidence if you don’t work.”
Phil Varone will play in his second career game Saturday night. He made his NHL debut Thursday, played 10:36 and recorded an assist while centering a line that featured Marcus Foligno and Brian Flynn on the wings.
He said he’s feeling more comfortable now than he did on Thursday.
“Getting a game under your belt, a couple practices, you kind of get the feel a little bit of what you can do to incorporate your game into the NHL,” he said. “I feel good. I don’t feel the way I did two days ago, so hopefully that’ll translate on the ice.”
Ryan Miller is expected to start in goal. Captain Steve Ott and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff did not skate, but Nolan said they’ll play against Columbus. Center Tyler Ennis, who missed practice on Friday, will also be ready to go, according to Nolan.
It’s a special day for Phil Varone.
The Rochester Americans’ leading scorer will finally have a chance to prove himself on the NHL stage Thursday night.
The Sabres called up Varone from the American Hockey League on Wednesday and he’s ready to make his NHL debut against the Carolina Hurricanes at 7 p.m. at First Niagara Center.
“It’s been a long time coming. I’ve worked for it. I’ve worked my whole life for it,” Varone said after Buffalo’s optional morning skate Thursday. “When it finally comes, you don’t expect it but I feel extremely fortunate to be in this situation right now. I’m going to try and take advantage of it.
Varone was called into Amerks coach Chadd Cassidy’s office after practice in Rochester on Wednesday and had a feeling that something was about to change, but he wasn’t exactly sure what it might be.
“When Coach Cassidy called me in, a number of things were going through my head. I thought maybe I got traded. They pulled me off the ice right away,” he said Thursday after the team’s optional morning skate. “Then I thought maybe he just wanted to talk about this weekend’s games down in Rochester.”
However, when he was given word that he was headed to Buffalo, he was overwhelmed with emotion.
“When he told me the news, it brought some tears to my eyes,” he said. “I called my parents right away. It’s something I’ll never forget for sure.”
The Vaughan, Ont. native said he’s already reserved a handful of tickets for family and friends and expects more to show up at the door.
Varone was a fifth-round pick by the San Jose Sharks in 2009 but was not signed to a contract. The Sabres invited to their development camp in 2011 and he impressed. He recorded four points during the 2011 Traverse City NHL Prospects Tournament and earned a one-year contract with Rochester.
After a 52-point season with the Amerks, he signed a three-year, entry level contract with Buffalo in March 2012.
This season in Rochester, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound center leads the team with eight goals and 25 assists through 38 games.
“He certainly has worked for his opportunity. I’m really happy for him,” Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. “This thing only happens one time. You only play your first game in the National Hockey League one time. His parents are close by, his family’s close by, so it’s a special day for him.”
Marcus Foligno said he played on a line with Varone in Rochester and is looking forward to playing with him again Thursday night. Varone will center a line with Foligno and Brian Flynn on the wings against Carolina.
“It was great when I played with him in Rochester,” Foligno said. “We had some good connections so hopefully it can relate to here.”
Varone will wear No. 84.
Alexander Sulzer has been a healthy scratch the past three games but will make his return to the lineup against Carolina.
“I felt pretty good about my game. There were a few shifts where I wasn’t really happy with it and I guess the coaches saw it the same way,” he said.
Sulzer said he expects to be paired again with Christian Ehrhoff, but didn’t have a definitive answer after practice.
Jhonas Enroth is expected to start in goal.
26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
82 Marcus Foligno – 84 Phil Varone – 65 Brian Flynn
23 Ville Leino – 24 Zenon Konopka – 37 Matt Ellis
Henrik Tallinder hasn’t played a game in 2014, but that will change Tuesday night.
After missing eight games with an upper-body injury, the Buffalo Sabres veteran defenseman said after the team's optional morning skate at First Niagara Center that he’s ready to return to action.
“It’s always frustrating when you’re injured so it’s good to be back with the guys in the locker room and everything that comes with it,” he said.
He sustained the injury on Dec. 29 against the Washington Capitals and while the injury occurred on the first shift of the game, he still played 21:05.
Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said that Tallinder will indeed be back in the Sabres lineup against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
The coaching staff hasn’t decided what the defensive pairings will be, but it’s likely that they will put Tallinder back with Tyler Myers.
“We just found out this morning that [Tallinder’s] really good to go. From that to here, we haven’t really had a chance to really think about exactly who he’s going to go with,” Nolan said. “Myers seems to be the guy who’s really going right now. It could be a big benefit for him to play with the top guy right at the hop.”
The Sabres will have to make a roster move before the game in order to activate Tallinder from injured reserve.
Mark Pysyk will be a healthy scratch on defense. The Sabres will consider sending him down to play some games during the Olympic break with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League. To make sure a young player like him isn’t playing too many games, they’ll sit him down against the Panthers.
“It’s not his play,” Nolan said. “He’s been playing pretty well lately and it’s just he’s younger. There’s a possibility he might go down to the farm team to play during the break, so that’s a lot of games for a young guy to play. It’s more of a precautionary day and rest day.”
It’s possible that Brayden McNabb might also go to Rochester during the Olympics, but Nolan said the front office has yet to make that decision.
Linus Omark will be back for the Sabres as well after sitting out the past two games as a healthy scratch.
“If you could watch some of our practices, he’s pretty skilled. He has great vision for the ice, he knows where to go, he knows all the moves, he has everything. But in the games, it just doesn’t transfer,” Nolan said. “We just have to get him to be a little [grittier] and maybe playing with a guy like Steve Ott, that’ll bring it.”
Ryan Miller is expected to start in goal.
The Buffalo Sabres will hope to cool down the surging Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.
The Blue Jackets come into Buffalo after defeating the Washington Capitals 5-1 at home Friday night. Columbus has won its past five games and is 6-1-0 during the month of January.
Buffalo has gotten some positive results on home ice as of late and will look to keep that going against the Blue Jackets at 7 p.m. They’re 6-1-2 in their past eight games at First Niagara Center.
“It’s one of those things where we have to realize this is our building and we have a good club here,” Sabres center Zenon Konopka said after the team's optional morning skate. “It’s about us, not about the opponents coming in here. We have to expect to win every night here in our building and not hope, but expect. It should be a real good game tonight.”
Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno has been having a career year so far. He’s scored and 12 goals and recorded 14 assists in 41 games. His play has impressed his younger brother, the Sabres’ Marcus Foligno.
“He’s improved a lot and this year, the points have come for him and the way he’s played every game, he’s been consistent and he’s been pretty gritty,” Marcus Foligno said. “He’s got a couple fights and he’s putting up good numbers. He’s a guy that does it all and when he’s having a great night, he’s really noticeable and he’s a good player.”
“For myself, I want to relate to that. You want to learn off him. He’s the older brother so you want to take after him sometimes. Not all the time, though. It comes with who we are the background that we have.”
Foligno missed Buffalo’s last game with an injury, but will be ready to go against Columbus.
John Scott will once again be in for Omark again on the team’s fourth line. With Omark being a more offensive-minded player, Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said Omark will likely have to wait for a spot on the top three lines to open up before he can return to the lineup.
“We just played well last game so we’ll keep the same lineup. There’s not much he can do. He’s just got to continue to work and be patient,” Nolan said.
Ryan Miller is expected to start in goal for Buffalo.
The game will also be Tyler Myers’ 300th in the NHL. He returned from a three-game suspension on Wednesday and recorded an assist in 26:02 of ice time, his second-highest total ice time of the season.
26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 23 Ville Leino
82 Marcus Foligno – 65 Brian Flynn – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
32 John Scott – 24 Zenon Konopka – 37 Matt Ellis
TORONTO – Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford and John Scott are back in for the Buffalo Sabres. Alexander Sulzer, Linus Omark and Marcus Foligno will not play against the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7:30 p.m. at Air Canada Centre.
Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan revealed in his pregame press conference this evening that Foligno is day-to-day with an injury and is out for the game on Wednesday. Sulzer and Omark will be healthy scratches.
Myers is back, having served a three-game suspension handed down by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for an illegal check to the head of New Jersey Devils forward Dainius Zubrus on Jan. 4. He’s looking forward to playing again and will try to continue to be a physical presence.
“I don’t think I need to be changing my game. I’m not the type of guy that’s reckless or looking to injure somebody,” the 6-foot-8, 219-pound defenseman said. “I think on that play, I was just trying to be aggressive and I think at my height and with my size, I think it’s going to happen sometimes. You have to be aware of it for sure, but I don’t think I want to change my game.”
WATCH: TED NOLAN INTERVIEW
The coaching staff doesn’t want him to lose his edge either.
“We really like that mentality and I’m glad he said that. We don’t want him to lose that. We actually want him to be a little bit more aggressive,” Nolan said. “And when I say ‘aggressive,’ it’s aggressive carrying the puck, it’s aggressive shooting, it’s aggressive skating, it’s those type of things. If he play’s aggressively, he’s going to be a great, great player.”
Stafford returns to the lineup after missing four games with an upper-body injury.
WATCH: CODY HODGSON INTERVIEW
John Scott, who scored when the two teams last met on Dec. 27, has been a healthy scratch for Buffalo’s past two games.
“We need a different look here tonight so we thought John would be better suited for a fourth line position versus Linus, putting him down in that position,” Nolan said.
Ryan Miller is expected to start in goal for Buffalo.
Jhonas Enroth is expected to start in goal for the Buffalo Sabres. The team hopes the goals to support him will follow.
Coming into the game Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers at 7:30 p.m. at First Niagara Center, Enroth has posted a .916 save percentage and a 2.46 goals against average. He’s looking for his second win of the season and the players in front of him will look to drum up the goal support needed to get him that victory.
“He’s been unlucky and he’s been playing great all year,” Sabres forward Ville Leino said. “Certainly guys are on his side here and want to give him a win here.”
The game can be seen nationally on NBCSN.
In Enroth’s 13 starts this season, Buffalo has scored only 17 goals and has been shut out three times. Enroth has given up three goals or less in each of his past six starts, but has a 0-3-3 record including two shootout losses to show for it.
“We have a lot of trust in both goaltenders and unfortunately for Jhonas, we just haven’t scored too much for him,” Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. “He’s played some great games so we’re just going to let him do his thing and hopefully we’ll get a couple for him.”
Other than in goal, no lineup changes are expected for the Sabres. On the defensive front, Tyler Myers will serve the final game of a three-game suspension for a high hit on Devils forward Dainius Zubrus on Jan. 4.
Right wing Drew Stafford is not yet ready to return from an upper-body injury that has sidelined him for the past three games. Nolan said it might be possible for Stafford to play Wednesday night in Toronto.
Leino returned to the lineup Sunday afternoon after missing three games with a lower-body injury. He played 15:49 against the Capitals in his return and said that while it took him a little bit to get re-adjusted, he’s felt better in the days since.
“Yesterday’s practice was better and today and the morning skate, I felt really good,” he said. “So hopefully I can continue that today at the game.”
The Sabres have earned points in eight-straight home games, going 6-0-2 over that stretch. It’s the first time they’ve earned points in eight straight since they went 7-0-2 at home from Feb. 17 to March 24, 2012.
Sabres center Zenon Konopka said that success has stemmed from the team starting to build some chemistry and it’s really starting to show on a consistent basis, especially at First Niagara Center.
“You have to find your identity as a team and I think as a team, and some individuals, we’re starting to find an identity, which is nice to see,” he said. “Now we have to grow off that, which is easier said than done because it’s a real good League to play in.”
In the Sabres-Flyers rivalry, being at home has had its advantages as of late. The home team has won the last six games played between these two teams, with all six games ending in regulation. Philadelphia won its first game of the season against Buffalo 4-1 at Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 21.
The Sabres are looking to win their third consecutive home game against the Flyers for the first time since they won three straight home games against Philadelphia from Oct. 17, 2006 to Dec. 21, 2007.
WASHINGTON – Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan’s career is rooted in junior hockey. His head coaching career started when he took over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League during the 1988-89 season. There, he ended up winning two OHL Championships and the Memorial Cup in 1993-94.
Between NHL coaching stints, he was also been behind the bench for the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and won a QMJHL championship in 2005-06.
So when he, Sabres president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine and new general manager Tim Murray made the decision to loan 19-year-old rookie center Mikhail Grigorenko to the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL, they saw it as being the move that would be most beneficial to Grigorenko's development and future success.
However, multiple media outlets have reported that Grigorenko has refused to report to Quebec and his status with the Sabres remains unclear.
Before the Sabres’ afternoon game against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center, Nolan spoke with the media and addressed the situation.
“We knew obviously players would be disappointed when things like that happen, but [we had] no indication that he wouldn’t report,” Nolan said. “It’s one thing that you learn what you can control, what you can’t control. Tim and Pat will take care of that. I’ve got this group of guys to worry about that are here.”
Nolan stressed the importance he places on development, particularly at the junior level and cited Norris Trophy-winning defenseman P.K. Subban as a great example of patience with development paying off.
“I come from the junior background. P.K. Subban played four years in Belleville [of the Ontario Hockey League] and he turned out pretty good,” he said. “There are different leagues for different players. Some guys turn out better playing college hockey. Some guys turn out better playing junior hockey. It’s just one of those situations that whatever’s a good fit but junior hockey’s a good place to develop.”
Neither LaFontaine nor Murray traveled with the team to Washington, so they were unavailable to comment on what they plan to do next in regards to Grigorenko.
The last time the Sabres and Capitals met, Ryan Miller made a career-high 49 saves in a 2-1 shootout win at First Niagara Center.
Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin had 12 shots, but didn’t record a point in 21:40 of ice time.
Nolan said that while he was pleased his team was able to keep most of Washington’s 50 shots to the outside, they likely won’t be able to come out of the game Sunday afternoon with two points if they once again surrender that many shot attempts.
“He’s too dynamic,” Nolan said. “You eventually give that much, something’s going to go in eventually. We’re going to hopefully limit his shots to maybe half of that today.”
Cody Hodgson and Ville Leino are expected to return to the lineup after missing time with injuries. John Scott will be the team’s healthy scratch. Ryan Miller, who hasn’t played since Jan. 4 due to scheduling changes, is expected to start in goal for the Sabres.
Coming off a bronze-medal performance with Team Russia in the IIHF World Junior Championship, Mikhail Grigorenko was back on the ice with the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday at First Niagara Center.
He won’t play Thursday night against the Florida Panthers at 7 p.m., but the 19-year-old rookie center was excited to return. He led Team Russia with five goals and three assists in seven games in the tournament.
“I think this year, I was more of a leader on the team,” Grigorenko said after Buffalo’s optional morning skate. “I was leading by example and pretty much all the players on the team knew that I was from the NHL and they were just looking up to me. I was really happy about my experience there. ”
This was Grigorenko’s third time playing in the World Junior Championship. While he would have liked to win gold, he believes he gained a lot more experience this year. He was put in situations that he believes have helped his all-around game.
“Maybe previously, I was playing more offensively. I didn’t really think about defense or little details like faceoffs or winning battles,” he said. “This year, I played a really good two-way game. I thought I played good defensively and I also played on the penalty kill. I thought I was more of a complete player. I was doing a lot of good stuff for the team offensively and defensively.”
WATCH: MIKHAIL GRIGORENKO INTERVIEW
Grigorenko hopes to stick with the Sabres, but it’s uncertain how long he will be in Buffalo, however. He could be returned to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Sabres management will meet as soon as after the game on Thursday to discuss his future.
Making a decision is a priority for new general manager Tim Murray.
“He just came back from Europe,” Murray said. “And in all honesty, I got here last night and started talking about scenarios and we’re past the point of having four different scenarios. There are two scenarios and we’ll decide one of those two here very quickly.”
The team announced that Murray had been named the new GM in a press conference Thursday after practice.
Jhonas Enroth is expected to start in goal.
He’ll make up for his missed start Tuesday night when the team’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes was postponed due to inclement weather. That game has since been rescheduled for Feb. 25 at 7 p.m.
Hodgson wore a red non-contact jersey for the second day in a row. He’s been out since Dec. 21 with an upper-body injury.
GREAT SEATS STILL AVAILABLE FOR TONIGHT'S GAME
Leino, in a normal yellow jersey the forwards wear on game days, worked with the assistant coaches after the skate. Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said they were going to push him pretty hard and then see how he responds.
Leino has missed two games with a lower-body injury.
The Sabres will be without two of their top defensemen. Alternate captain Henrik Tallinder is out due to an upper-body injury and Tyler Myers will serve the first game of a three-game suspension handed down by the NHL Department of Player Safety.
In the team’s last game, Myers hit New Jersey Devils forward Dainius Zubrus in the head and received a two-minute minor. After a phone hearing Monday, the League decided to suspend Myers for three games.
WATCH: MIKE WEBER INTERVIEW
Tallinder has missed three games and Myers has worn an “A” in his place. Now with Myers out, Nolan announced that Mike Weber will serve as an alternate captain.
“It’s a huge honor and it kind of makes you a little bit speechless. I’ve tried to be a leader without it for a long time,” Weber said. “I’ve always tried to play the same way, play a hard game and be hard to play against. The most important thing is be a good teammate in the locker room.”
Zenon Konopka said he should’ve listened to his pet rabbit.
After being claimed off of waivers by the Buffalo Sabres on Friday, Konopka set out to make the trip from Minnesota by plane. Hoppy will opt for a car ride later this week.
Konopka’s connecting flight was at LaGuardia Airport in New York but once he got there, there was a chance he might not make it to Buffalo in time for the Sabres’ game Saturday night against the New Jersey Devils at 7 p.m. at First Niagara Center.
“The flight got delayed four hours and then canceled,” Konopka said. “But the tough part was they said they could get me in on Sunday, and I said, ‘That’s not going to work.’ So we found another flight at JFK, the other airport in New York. And then they lost my bags.”
By 3 a.m., he had his bags, and made it to JFK later that morning. However, he still wasn’t quite in the clear.
“We were on the tarmac for almost two hours this morning but finally got in here,” he said. “That’s the main thing.”
Konopka took the ice just before 11 a.m. on Saturday as the Sabres optional morning skate was wrapping up. He made it in the end, but he figures he maybe should’ve taken Hoppy’s method of transportation.
“Hoppy’s not a huge flyer,” Konopka said, laughing. “He wanted to drive so my buddy was down in Minnesota. He’s going to chauffer Hoppy up to Buffalo in the next couple days and he’s pretty excited as well.”
Known for his toughness and faceoff prowess, Nolan hopes that Konopka’s attitude and work ethic will leave a lasting impression on some of the younger players on the team.
“The one thing we really want to do is change the culture a little bit here, getting some guys that play with a little sandpaper to rub off on the other players,” Nolan said. “…You learn from your peers probably more so than you learn from coaches sometimes. Guys talk all the time in the locker room. So hopefully some traits that make him successful like the draws, a Tyler Ennis could learn from down the road.”
Konopka, who celebrated his 33rd birthday on Thursday, grew up in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. and remembers going to Sabres games at the Aud with his father to cheer on players like Gilbert Perreault, Lindy Ruff, Mike Foligno, Dave Andreychuk and Donald Audette.
WATCH: KONOPKA MEETS THE BUFFALO MEDIA
He’ll have some family and friends in attendance on Saturday and likely more for games in the future.
“One of my buddies said, ‘You’re going to be playing for free here by the time you’re done paying for tickets,’” Konopka said. “It’s something that I want my friends and family to enjoy too. They’ve been there the whole way for me and now to come back home and play in front of them is pretty special.”
Ville Leino, who missed the team’s last game with a lower-body injury, skated Saturday morning but will not play against New Jersey. Leino is hoping to be ready for Tuesday night when the Sabres take on the Hurricanes at home.
“I thought he looked good today, but the injury he had was pretty serious so we’re going to give him a little more time,” Nolan said.
WATCH: TED NOLAN'S PREGAME PRESS CONFERENCE
Defenseman Brayden McNabb will return to the lineup. He was a healthy scratch against the Wild on Thursday. He will take Alexander Sulzer’s spot in the lineup and Nolan said that McNabb will see some time on special teams.
“We have to be more conservative, more consistent and be aware,” McNabb said of the defensive corps. “When we’re going, you have to be 100 percent sure when you’re going to pinch and when you’re going to take those chances. It’s something where you have to read the situation and make sure you jump at the right spots.”
Ryan Miller is expected to start in goal.
With Henrik Tallinder out with an upper-body injury, his regular defensive partner Tyler Myers has been serving as an alternate captain in his place. Nolan made the decision based on Myers’ recent stretch of strong play.
“The way he’s transformed his game over the last month, he’s getting better and better,” Nolan said. “He’s getting more competitive. He’s getting more engaged with the play. He’s getting louder in practice. It really looks like he’s maturing into that type of defenseman, type of leader that we need on this team.”
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers was back on the ice at Xcel Energy Center for the team’s morning skate on Thursday after taking a maintenance day on Wednesday.
He said he’s feeling great and is ready to go against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. The game is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. in Buffalo.
With his normal defensive partner Henrik Tallinder out for at least a week with an injury, Myers was paired with Mike Weber on Tuesday against Winnipeg. Myers said that Weber’s ability to communicate well has made it easy for the two to find some chemistry.
“I thought we went really well last game together,” he said. “I thought a big thing for us we were talking to each other really well and making sure we knew the other was supporting. I thought the communication we had the way we moved the puck to each other was a great start for us here.”
Captain Steve Ott did not partake in the morning skate. He practiced with the team Wednesday, but was given a maintenance day by the coaching staff on Thursday.
Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said that Ott will play against the Wild.
“He’s a competitive guy and once in a while you have to pull him back and give him some rest to makes sure he’s good for games,” Nolan said.
Ryan Miller, coming off the announcement that he had made Team USA’s roster for the Olympic Games in Sochi, is expected to start in goal.
The line of center Matt Ellis, left wing John Scott and right wing Matt D’Agostini could be considered the fourth line, but that’s not how they’re approaching it. Scott scored his first goal of the season on Friday and they’ve promoted themselves since then.
“Johnny doesn’t think we’re a fourth line. Since he scored, we’ve been calling ourselves the second line,” D’Agostini said with a grin. “Our job is just to provide energy, go out there and forecheck. That’s where we’ve been getting our chances, so the second line’s got to be good again tonight.”
Johan Larsson was drafted by the Wild in 2010 and played one year in Minnesota’s system before being traded to the Sabres at the NHL Trade Deadline last year. He made his NHL debut with the Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Feb. 17, 2013.
He’ll be in Buffalo's lineup Thursday night for the injured Ville Leino.
“I played one game here so it’s going to be fun,” he said. “I know a lot of people over on the team and I know the staff so it’s nice to be back here in the building and hopefully we get a win here”
The Wild are have lost six in a row and have only two wins in their past 10 games. Minnesota’s power play is currently 13th in the NHL. They’ve converted on 18.9 percent of their opportunities with the man advantage.
“We want to stay out of the box,” Nolan said. “They’ve been having a little bit of trouble 5-on-5, but the majority of their goals have been coming on the power play so we want to stay out of the box.”
The Sabres tried to create a lot of traffic in front of the net against the Jets and that will be a continued point of emphasis from the coaching staff.
“The majority of our play, we want to make sure we have a net-front presence. The last few games, we’ve been skating by like a fly-by,” Nolan said. “We want to stop by and see If there are any rebounds for us to collect.”