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POSTED ON Saturday, 03.15.2014 / 2:17 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers will not play Saturday night against the New York Islanders so rookie Rasmus Ristolainen has been recalled on an emergency basis from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League to take his spot in the lineup.

It’s likely that Myers will miss both the game against the Islanders and Buffalo’s home game Sunday night against the Montreal Canadiens. Myers sustained the injury during the team’s game in Carolina on Thursday.

The Sabres leave Monday for a five-game, coast-to-coast road trip that starts in Calgary and ends on March 27 in Nashville with stops in Edmonton, Vancouver and Montreal.

“Hopefully we get him back by the long trip,” Nolan said. “He went to finish his hit and kind of missed the guy a little bit, but we’ll go from there.”

Ristolainen, Buffalo’s top pick in the 2013 NHL Draft (eighth overall), was on the ice for Buffalo’s optional morning skate at Nassau Coliseum after taking an early morning flight out from Rochester.

He joins the team for the second time this year after beginning the season in Buffalo for a 19-game stint. He scored his first NHL goal in his ninth game.

He was sent down to Rochester on Nov. 19 and has recorded 18 points (6+12) through 30 games played with the Amerks.

“Of course I was a little bit disappointed at that point when I got sent down but I tried to work harder every day,” he said, calling this recall a nice surprise.

The Sabres started the year with four teenagers on the roster – including Ristolainen, who’s 19 – but when Nolan took over behind the bench, the organization shifted gears and opted to play with a more experienced lineup in Buffalo. Since then, a few other young players like Mark Pysyk have been sent down to bolster the Amerks lineup and gain valuable experience.

“As coaches and managers, we’re almost like parents. Some kinds think they’re 26 when they’re only 16 year old. They need guidance and they need direction,” Nolan said. “I’m quite sure Rasmus thought he was capable of playing at this level and at that time and rightfully so, they should. But sometimes, you’re not. Nothing like some good tutelage and development to make you a better player so I’m glad it’s worked.”

Ristolainen was counted upon in many different situations in Rochester and in his first professional season in North America, he also had to adjust to the smaller ice surface. Sabres alternate captain Henrik Tallinder thinks that time in Rochester has served Ristolainen well.

“Rasmus is a great player and I’m really happy to see him up here again. I thought he played pretty good when he was up here last time, too,” Tallinder said. “For him to go down there, play a lot – way more than he played when he was up here – and just in key situations. That helps a young defenseman to develop. I think it’s all positive for him.”

Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel will also play as he fills in for Alexander Sulzer, who sustained an upper-body injury on Thursday. Sulzer will miss at least a week.


Jhonas Enroth will start for Buffalo. He’s started six of Buffalo’s last eight games. He’s 3-3-0 in those games with a .922 save percentage.

“Especially with the void Ryan Miller leaves, I think it’s Jhonas Enroth’s coming out party here. We’ve had two good goalies for a really long time and now Jhonas is getting a shot to see what we can do,” alternate captain Drew Stafford said. “Getting Michal in here as well, they’ve both played out of their minds with some of the shots we’ve given up.”

In his start on Thursday, Neuvirth stopped 51 shots, the most by a Sabres goaltender since Dominik Hasek made 55 saves on March 1, 1996.

In the seven games since the Sabres traded Miller, Sabres goaltenders have faced a combined total of 257 saves in seven games.

“Since the Ryan Miller trade, these two young kids were given an opportunity and it seems like they’re both battling for No. 1, which is great,” Nolan said. “There’s nothing like internal competition to bring the best out of any athlete. Right now they’re both battling hard and so far, knock on wood, it’ll continue.”

Puck drop between the Sabres and Islanders is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 03.13.2014 / 2:08 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

RALEIGH, N.C. – The Buffalo Sabres and the Carolina Hurricanes are set to meet for the third and final time this season Thursday night in Raleigh.

Both teams held optional skates Thursday morning at PNC Arena.

Sabres defenseman Alexander Sulzer, who has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury skated again with the team. Interim coach Ted Nolan said he’s ready to play and will be in the Sabres lineup when the puck drops at 7 p.m.

Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel also skated with the team, but he might be headed back to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League. Ruhwedel was recalled on an emergency basis due to the number of injuries Buffalo has been dealing with in the past week.

After the skate, Nolan wasn’t sure of the technicalities regarding Ruhwedel’s recall and if the team would have to send him back to the Amerks right away. They could also elect to keep him up by using one of their four recalls available to them from now until the end of the season.

Michal Neuvirth will start in goal, marking his second appearance in a Sabres uniform. He stopped 42 shots in his first game with Buffalo, a 2-0 loss to the Florida Panthers on Friday.


Nolan skated the team hard back in Buffalo on Wednesday before flying out to Carolina. He wasn’t satisfied with the effort he was seeing from the players and called for some bag skating drills.

How did he think they responded?

“As well as could be expected. The thing is, they’re not bad and they’re not tanking. That was not designed to do that,” Nolan said. “It was just designed to remind them that we have to work every day. It’s not whether we’re in first place or last place. It doesn’t matter. It’s how you prepare yourself and I would do the same thing if we were in first versus last. It’s just a reminder that we have to work.”

The players seem to have received that message loud and clear.

“It’s just got to start today, right away. Everybody’s got to be accountable for the team and most importantly to themselves,” forward Ville Leino said. We’ve just to work, compete. We’re not the most talented team in the League so we have to match the work ethic every night to have a chance to win games.”


Sabres defenseman Jamie McBain will play in his first game in Carolina since the Hurricanes traded him to the Sabres at the 2013 NHL Draft. Drafted by the Hurricanes in the second round (63rd overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, McBain suited up for 228 games with the club from 2009-2013. During that time, he recorded 104 points (40+64).

“It’s the first time I’ll be stepping on the ice here against them. It’s been weird obviously going through the town a little bit, getting in yesterday and driving to the hotel and just being familiar with this area,” he said. “It’s been a little surreal, but I’m excited to be back.”

Buffalo acquired McBain and a second-round pick (J.T. Compher) in the draft for defenseman Andrej Sekera.

This season, McBain has three goals and 10 assists and is working on contributing more on the offensive end of the ice.

“As of late, I guess I’m getting a few more shots and maybe a few more chances to get involved. I’m an offensive-minded guy,” he said. “That’s a part of my game that I definitely want to bring to the team so it’s been a little bit of a struggle trying to find it. It’s one of those things, but every day you have to come to the rink to work and hopefully today you’ll get the bounce and then things just kind of start to go your way.”


Leino has 12 assists on the season, but is still looking for his first goal.

He said he scored a bulk of his goals in Detroit and Philadelphia off tips and rebounds near the net. The opportunity for those types of plays haven’t been as abundant in Buffalo this season and at the same time, he’s been focusing on setting his teammates up for goals.

So while he said he thinks his line with Nicolas Deslauriers and Brian Flynn has generated some good scoring chances, he’ll look to put the puck on net more frequently.

“I need to shoot more. That’s one thing,” Leino said. “…I was trying to shoot a little more last game. I’m going to have a shooting stick today and try to shoot because that’s the only way you can score because we’re not able to make nice plays right now. We’ve just got to try to throw it to the net and hope for rebounds”

Leino also said that he’s feeling healthy and his hip, which has been a source of discomfort for him in the past, his feeling fine.


Deslauriers, 23, has found a place on the Sabres power play. He’s manned the point on the second unit with McBain the past few games. He was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings organization at the trade deadline and made his NHL debut against Florida on Friday.

Nolan has been happy with his energy level and skill set.

“He just came into a perfect situation where he’s played defense before, he has a great shot,” Nolan said. “The one thing we don’t do on our power play enough is shoot the puck. Hopefully by putting him back there, he can put himself in a position and look to let that cannon go and maybe we’ll get a power-play goal.”


PROJECTED LINEUP

88 Cory Conacher – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
82 Marcus Foligno – 19 Cody Hodgson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 23 Ville Leino – 65 Brian Flynn
32 John Scott – 24 Zenon Konopka – 37 Matt Ellis

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 52 Alexander Sulzer
6 Mike Weber – 57 Tyler Myers
20 Henrik Tallinder – 4 Jamie McBain

34 Michal Neuvirth
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.11.2014 / 2:11 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

Tyler Myers took part in the Buffalo Sabres optional morning skate on Tuesday and will play against the Nashville Predators at 7 p.m.

The 6-foot-8, 219-pound defenseman fell awkwardly into the corner near the end of the first period of the team’s last game Sunday night. He skated off to the bench and into the locker room in a good deal of pain.

“I didn’t feel too good but once we figured out what was going on, I felt a lot more comfortable,” Myers said on Tuesday. “We made sure there was nothing damaging about it and got it stabilized a little bit and got back out there.”

He said he’ll be ready to go against Nashville. The Sabres currently have six defenseman available with Alexander Sulzer out with a lower-body injury so interim coach Ted Nolan is happy the injury wouldn’t sideline Myers.

“That was a scary little twist of the ankle there and knock on wood, nothing serious happened,” Nolan said.

Sulzer was on the ice for the morning skate and said he’s close to being ready. Nolan said on Friday that Sulzer’s injury could keep him out for as long as two weeks. However, he may be back sooner than that.

“I felt surprisingly good and I got some work done in the end there with [assistant coach] Teppo [Numminen],” Sulzer said. “We’ll see how it is tomorrow and if it looks good, I’ll probably be back in Thursday.”

The Sabres are also hampered by injuries to their forwards. Zemgus Girgensons, Torrey Mitchell and Chris Stewart are all out with lower-body injuries.

Nolan said that Mitchell could be ready to return soon and Girgensons would likely be back soon after that. However, Stewart’s injury, sustained when he collided with Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback on Thursday, could keep him out for the rest of the season. Nolan set the timetable on Stewart’s recovery at 4-5 weeks.

“I'm quite sure we probably won’t see him for the rest of the year,” Nolan said.

Jhonas Enroth will start in goal against the Predators and Nolan said that they’ll work on a schedule with goaltending coach Jim Corsi to deterimine when Michal Neuvirth will get some playing time.

“You pencil it in because it’s always subject to change depending on who’s hot and who’s going at the right time,” Nolan said. “But right now, we’ll go with Jhonas tonight and we’ll have a little game plan set going forward.”

In the five games since the Sabres traded starting goaltender Ryan Miller to St. Louis, Enroth and Neuvirth have combined to stop 186 of 196 shots, posting a .949 save percentage and a 2.02 goals against average.


Tonight will be Drew Stafford’s 500th NHL game. Stafford will become the 30th player to appear in 500 games as a member of the Sabres. Stafford, who scored the Sabres’ lone goal on Sunday, has 13 points (7+6) in his last 14 games. He hasn’t played three games without recording a point since Dec. 31 to Jan. 15.

Matt Ellis will log his 300th NHL game tonight, including 230 as a member of the Sabres.


Nolan was asked again about his contract situation with the team. He said on Monday that he’s leaving negotiations in his representative’s hands. In his update on Tuesday, Nolan said that with Sabres general manager Tim Murray in Florida for League meetings, they’re waiting to hear back but Nolan hopes to have something in place soon.

“I’m hoping. Tim’s probably tied up in the general manager meetings and he didn’t get back to my representative yesterday, but hopefully it’ll be ironed out real soon,” Nolan said.


PROJECTED LINEUP

88 Cory Conacher – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
82 Marcus Foligno – 19 Cody Hodgson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 23 Ville Leino – 65 Brian Flynn
32 John Scott – 24 Zenon Konopka – 37 Matt Ellis

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 5 Chad Ruhwedel
6 Mike Weber – 57 Tyler Myers
20 Henrik Tallinder – 4 Jamie McBain

1 Jhonas Enroth
34 Michal Neuvirth

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POSTED ON Sunday, 03.09.2014 / 1:45 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

Cory Conacher had to wait an extra game to play his first game in a Sabres uniform but he’ll take the ice in Buffalo on Sunday.

The wing, claimed off waivers from the Senators on Wednesday, was expected to play in the team’s game against the Panthers in Florida on Friday, but visa issues delayed his debut for one more game.

He will skate with Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford on the top line Sunday night when Buffalo hosts the Chicago Blackhawks at 7:30 p.m. at First Niagara Center. The game can be seen nationally on NBCSN and on TSN2 in Canada.

“This is a nice debut to make here at home,” he said after the team’s optional morning skate. “It’s going to be fun to play in front of this sold-out crowd and I’m sure the fans are coming for me and not Pat Kane.”

He played at Canisius College for four years, setting scoring records, before signing as an undrafted free agent with the Tampa Bay Lightning in March 2012. He’s happy to have wound up back in Buffalo.

“I want to play with this team for a long time,” he said. “There are always teams in the back of your head that you want to play for when you make it to this League and Buffalo is definitely one of them just because of playing at Canisius and being so close to home. Hopefully I can make a good first impression with the coaching staff and the management here and maybe pick up a couple wins.”

Jhonas Enroth is expected to start in goal for Buffalo.


The Sabres are dealing with a number of injuries, including ones that have sidelined forwards Zemgus Girgensons, Chris Stewart and Torrey Mitchell and defenseman Alexander Sulzer.

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said that Girgensons and Mitchell could be back in a week or two and that Stewart will be out longer.

With Sulzer also out for at least a week with a lower-body injury, the Sabres recalled Chad Ruhwedel from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League on Saturday. He’s currently the highest-scoring defenseman on the Amerks with 25 points (4+21) in 45 games.

Ruhwedel played seven games with Buffalo before the Olympic break and looks to improve on that.

“I felt pretty good about it, played pretty solid defensively, could’ve been a little better offensively, but other than that, I thought I was pretty decent,” he said.

Nicolas Deslauriers played 15:08 in his NHL debut Friday night. The 23-year-old forward, acquired by the Sabres in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday, is looking forward to playing his first home game in Buffalo.

“Couldn’t ask for a better transition. The past four days have been awesome and I’m still trying to wake up a little bit,” he said. “I never got the call-up in L.A. and then I get traded, never thought I was going to get traded, too. It’s all coming together. I’m just trying to sink in everything. It’s been awesome.”


Conacher wore No. 89 in with the Lightning and Senators but decided to go with No. 88 in Buffalo. He didn’t want to wear 89 out of respect for Alexander Mogilny, so he made the switch.

After he picked the number, he sent a text to Kane. The two have gotten to know each other pretty well as they skate and play hockey together in the summer in Buffalo.

“Now a couple of the fans are saying we’re not going to be able to trade for Kane anymore because I have his number,” Conacher said with a smile. “But there were a couple numbers going through my head. I like high numbers and I liked 89 so I decided to go one lower with 88.”

Kane didn’t have a problem with there being another 88 in the League.

“He just texted me, he was like, ‘I’m going to wear your number in Buffalo. Is that all right?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, you don’t need to be asking me but that’s fine,’” Kane said. “…He’s a pretty competitive kid. I’m rooting for him for sure. ”

The game marks the first for the Blackhawks in Buffalo since Oct. 11, 2010. They’ll play here every year from here on out as the schedule now allows for every team to play in every city each season.

“It’s cool for me to come back because you go out on the ice to practice or play or whatever and you’re running into the same road equipment guys that were here when I was 6 and 7 years old asking for sticks and pucks,” Kane said. “It’s always cool to hear their stories and see those guys.”


Patrick Kaleta has a locker stall set up in the Sabres dressing room, but don’t expect to see him in a game anytime soon. The Sabres tweeted that Kaleta skated for the first time since tearing his ACL on Nov. 29.

It’s another step forward in his rehab.

“I just know for a fact he’s not playing this year,” Nolan said. “We’ll worry about him this coming summer and we’ll get him ready for next training camp.”


PROJECTED LINEUP

88 Cory Conacher – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
82 Marcus Foligno – 19 Cody Hodgson – 44 Nicolas Deslauriers
65 Brian Flynn – 23 Ville Leino – 27 Matt D’Agostini
32 John Scott – 24 Zenon Konopka – 37 Matt Ellis

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 5 Chad Ruhwedel
6 Mike Weber – 57 Tyler Myers
20 Henrik Tallinder – 4 Jamie McBain

1 Jhonas Enroth
34 Michal Neuvirth

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POSTED ON Thursday, 03.06.2014 / 3:29 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE
TAMPA – Torrey Mitchell and Michal Neuvirth, two of the newest members of the Buffalo Sabres organization, had the chance to meet their new teammates after the team’s morning skate at Tampa Bay Times Forum on Thursday.

The Sabres are set to take on the Lightning at 7:30 p.m. and Mitchell will be in the Sabres lineup wearing No. 17.

Mitchell arrived just as the Sabres were wrapping up their skate and was able to catch up with Zenon Konopka, his old teammate in Minnesota. Mitchell also played with defenseman Christian Ehrhoff when both were with the San Jose Sharks.

“I’m excited to see those guys again and meet all the new guys,” Mitchell said. “As soon as the trade happened, Z was already calling me. He was one of my first phone calls so he was excited. It’s good to know some guys and it’s easier to settle in, but hockey guys are the same everywhere.”

With Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick now in Minnesota as part of the deal that brought Mitchell to Buffalo, there are some spots in the lineup that need to be filled.

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said that Ville Leino will take Moulson’s place on the top line with Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford. Mitchell will likely start in the bottom six, but Nolan is open to moving him around in the lineup.

“I don’t know Mitchell very well. I know he’s an energy guy so energy guys are third, fourth-line guys, but we’ll see,” Nolan said. “I’m not going to pigeonhole him in that position yet. We’ll see what he brings, how he fits in and we’ll go from there.”

With Cory Conacher not expected to join the team until Friday, the Sabres will have only have to scratch one player in Tampa. Nolan said he was leaning towards sitting Konopka, meaning the Sabres will likely go with seven defensemen against the Lightning.

Jhonas Enroth will start in goal Thursday night and Neuvirth will play Friday against the Florida Panthers.

Neuvirth had a 5:30 a.m. wake up call in Washington for his flight to Tampa and took the ice just as the skate was wrapping up. He’s hoping he can make the most of his chances.

“My goal is to be a No. 1 goalie in the NHL and I feel like I can get the opportunity here,” he said. “I’m going give all my best, work hard every day and we’ll see what happens.”


Leadership roles will have to be filled as well in these final 20 games.

“Going into the last stretch of games here, our playoffs basically start today. A lot of guys’ contracts are up, positions to be won. There’s no such thing as ‘nothing to play for.’ There’s a lot to play for,” Nolan said. “They’re playing for the livelihood. So we’ve got to unite. We’ve got to find some new leaders on this team to take over.

Steve Ott was the backbone here for awhile. He’s not here anymore so somebody else has to step up. [Ryan] Miller’s not here anymore so somebody else has to step up. We’ve got some room for people to take a leadership role and see how they respond going down the stretch run.”

Nolan has praised Drew Stafford for the way he’s approached the past week.

“I think it’s definitely a compliment,” Stafford said. “But at the same time, there are a lot of guys in here that are capable of steering the ship here in the last month or so because it’s definitely going to be challenging to try and stay on track with all the stuff that’s going on and the way this year’s gone. But we’ve been playing well as of late and making sure that the compete’s there.”

A few of those other players include veterans like Ehrhoff and Henrik Tallinder, but also the younger group of players.

Nolan is looking to see how Marcus Foligno, Cody Hodgson, Tyler Ennis and Tyler Myers in particular rise up to this new challenge.

“I saw all four of them having ice cream last night together so that’s the next generation. They’re quality kids and quality players so there’s something to really look forward to,” Nolan said.

On the other end of the rink, Steven Stamkos returns to action after missing 45 games with broken right shin. He has 14 goals and 23 points in 17 games this season and will look to make an impact right away.

Ryan Callahan will make his Lightning debut. He was acquired from the New York Rangers for Tampa Bay captain Martin St. Louis in one of the splashiest moves Wednesday.


The team announced after practice that Dominik Hasek will be inducted into the Sabres Hall of Fame in a pregame ceremony on March 29.

Before that news even broke, Neuvirth, a native of the Czech Republic, mentioned Hasek when describing what he knows of the Sabres organization. Hasek was the first thing he thought of when he heard he’d been traded to the Sabres.

“The first thing that came to my mind was Dominik Hasek was here. I was a big fan of him when I was a kid and a big fan of Buffalo,” he said. “He was a hero for me, from the same country. All games I watched were Buffalo games because of him. He’s a legend back home.”


23 Ville Leino – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
82 Marcus Foligno – 19 Cody Hodgson – 80 Chris Stewart
65 Brian Flynn – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 27 Matt D’Agostini
37 Matt Ellis – 17 Torrey Mitchell

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 6 Mike Weber
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
32 John Scott – 4 Jamie McBain
52 Alexander Sulzer

1 Jhonas Enroth
34 Michal Neuvirth

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POSTED ON Monday, 03.03.2014 / 3:35 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

DALLAS – The NHL Trade Deadline comes at 3 p.m. on Wednesday and more changes to the Buffalo Sabres roster may lie ahead.

For now, the team is riding a three-game winning streak and is looking to make it four in a row Monday night against the Dallas Stars at 8 p.m. EST at American Airlines Center. The Sabres will get Tyler Ennis back on their top line after he missed the past two games with what interim coach Ted Nolan described as general body soreness.

Ennis will skate with Matt Moulson and Drew Stafford while newly acquired Chris Stewart will play on a line with center Cody Hodgson and wing Matt D’Agostini. Jhonas Enroth will start in goal.

Moulson, an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, did not take the morning skate because – as Nolan clarified afterward – the skate was optional. Nolan then confirmed that Moulson will play against Dallas.

Ennis will look to extend his three-game point streak. He also has seven points in his past seven games and feels like he’s playing some of the best hockey of his career.

“I think I’m playing well,” he said. “Been out a couple games so I’ve got to get better. I can’t be content with how it’s going.”

Nolan, for one, is very happy to have Ennis back in the lineup.

“It’s huge. He’s one of our better players and especially the way he’s been playing,” he said. “If you look at the way Drew Stafford’s been playing and Matty Moulson, I think it’s a direct impact of the way their center iceman’s been playing and that was Tyler Ennis.”

Stewart, having come from St. Louis, is pretty familiar with his former divisional rival. Stars captain Jamie Benn has 54 points (23+31) in 60 games this year and has nine points in his past 10 home games.

“I know they’re a high-powered offensive team who likes to play up the rush,” Stewart said. “They’ve got some goaltenders too and Jamie Benn’s coming off a gold medal and he’s definitely been feeling it lately. It’s going to be a true test tonight.”


The Sabres haven’t won three games in a row this season until this point and the streak may not have come at a better time for them. With trades and front office shakeups, the team has been able to maintain its focus and win hockey games.

“For a time that’s pretty anxious and nerve-wracking, we’ve had a couple good games, anyways,” Ennis said. “We’re having fun and dealing with it the best we can.”

Despite the tough times now, some players like Hodgson are looking forward to brighter days with the organization when they can realize all this hardship will have been worth it.

“It’s definitely a character-building year, that’s for sure,” he said. “For all the guys that have been through it together, we’re all going to look back on it in a few years and hopefully laugh.”


Stars coach Lindy Ruff, who served as the Sabres bench boss for parts of 14 seasons, will go for his 600th regular-season win. Ruff is 599-454-172 in 1,225 games coached.

Dallas currently holds the second wild card spot in the Western Conference with 66 points. Winnipeg and Vancouver also have 66 points, but the Stars have games in hand. Ruff is focused on holding onto that spot and not allowing Buffalo to play the role of spoiler.

“For me, I just want to win. I don’t care if it’s 520, 450, 601,” he said. “We’re in one hell of a battle here. The two points is really important to us. We have a couple games in hand that we have to take care of and that’s the most important thing.”


PROJECTED LINEUP

26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
80 Chris Stewart – 19 Cody Hodgson – 27 Matt D’Agsotini
82 Marcus Foligno – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 65 Brian Flynn
37 Matt Ellis – 23 Ville Leino – 8 Cody McCormick

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 32 John Scott
6 Mike Weber – 57 Tyler Myers
20 Henrik Tallinder – 4 Jamie McBain

1 Jhonas Enroth
41 Jaroslav Halak

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POSTED ON Friday, 02.28.2014 / 1:12 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE








Buffalo Sabres center Tyler Ennis will not play Friday night against the offensively potent San Jose Sharks.

Ennis did not play on Wednesday against Boston due to some soreness. He participated in the team’s optional morning skate at First Niagara Center on Friday, but the coaching staff decided it was best to hold him out for another game.

“He did a little extra work [after practice],” interim coach Ted Nolan said. “He’s pretty close, but not close enough to play tonight. So hopefully, like I said, it’s day-to-day. He’s a lot better but you probably won’t see him tonight.”

WATCH: TED NOLAN'S PRESS CONFERENCE

Zenon Konopka, however, will be in the Sabres lineup. He had surgery on a finger over the Olympic break and has missed the past two games as the team waited for the finger to completely heal before putting him back in. He took the warmup before the Bruins game but was a late scratch.

Konopka said taking the extra day to recuperate made a big difference.

“As much as I wouldn’t have thought it would, it has,” he said. “Definitely the best I’ve felt was this morning and maybe that’s why you listen to the doctors, trainers and coaches. But it’s one of those things where I was pretty happy with the way it felt this morning.”

Ryan Miller will start in goal and John Scott will be the team’s healthy scratch on the blue line.


The Sharks defeated the Flyers 7-3 in Philadelphia on Thursday. Joe Pavelski recorded a hat trick and Raffi Torres and Logan Couture each scored twice in their returns from injury.

Pavelski, Couture, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are just a few of the talented forwards on San Jose’s roster. Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers is aware of the challenges each player presents.

“I don’t think we want to play any guy differently. I think we focus on things like gap control and making sure we have good defensive sticks,” he said. “It’s just a matter trying to limit their time and space because they have guys that’ll make things happen every shift.”

Couture is one player that Konopka has his eye on.

“He doesn’t get a lot of media on this side, on the East Coast, but he’s an elite player in the League right now. He’s probably their best player,” Konopka said. “You think of Marleau, you think of [Brent] Burns and Thornton, but Couture’s their best player and he’s one special player. We’re going to have to be really on the ball because they have a couple lines that can hurt you.”


Sabres general manager Tim Murray said earlier this week that he’s ready to make some trades to improve the hockey club before the NHL Trade Deadline hits at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff said after practice Friday that the front office has “recently” asked him to submit a list of eight teams he would not accept a trade to. Ehrhoff has a limited no-trade clause in his contract.

“It doesn’t mean I will get traded or I won’t get traded, but it’s just part of the business and I’ll focus on the game at hand tonight and do my best for the team,” Ehrhoff said.

Several players including Miller and captain Steve Ott have been the subject of trade rumors. Nolan is charged with the task of keeping his players loose but also focused.

"You don’t want to make light of it, but every day, everyone walks in and says, ‘Steve, you’re still here.’" Nolan said with a smile. "I talked to Tyler Myers on the ice today. His name popped up in the newspapers yesterday and I told him, maybe it’s a compliment on his side because people want him.

"So it’s just one of those things that’s part of our business. But we have to make sure we’re professional about it. We’re all Buffalo Sabres right now and they have to go about their business and work."


PROEJCTED LINEUP

26 Matt Moulson – 23 Ville Leino – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
82 Marcus Foligno – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 65 Brian Flynn
37 Matt Ellis – 24 Zenon Konopka – 8 Cody McCormick

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 52 Alexander Sulzer
6 Mike Weber – 57 Tyler Myers
20 Henrik Tallinder – 4 Jamie McBain

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 02.26.2014 / 12:51 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE








With a goal against Carolina on Tuesday, Tyler Ennis extended his point streak to three games and has racked up seven points in his past seven games. He’s been one of the Buffalo Sabres’ most productive players of late, but the team will have to see how it fairs without him Wednesday night.

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan announced after the team’s optional morning skate that Ennis will not play against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday (7:30 p.m., NBCSN) due to what he called “general body soreness.”

“Hopefully it’s nothing too serious,” Nolan said. “Just a day-to-day thing so we’ll be good.”

Ennis’ line with Matt Moulson and Drew Stafford has been relied upon for offensive output. Stafford has recorded 11 points (6+5) in his last eight games, making it his most prolific eight-game stretch since 2011-12.

In his career, Stafford has recorded 51 points (24+27) in 71 games during the month of February (.718 points per game), his highest point-scoring rate of any month of the season.


Jhonas Enroth will start in goal and make his first appearance since returning from the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia earlier this week.

Henrik Tallinder, Enroth’s teammate on silver medal-winning Sweden, will also be back in the lineup. He didn’t play against the Hurricanes as the Sabres decided to give him an extra day of rest after the long flight back to North America.

It’s possible that by next Wednesday, starting goaltender Ryan Miller could be traded away and Enroth could be the team’s No. 1 goalie.

Tallinder thinks Enroth, 25, is up for the challenge if that scenario becomes a reality and playing the Bruins provides a great opportunity to start making his case.

“Obviously I think he wants to just show that he can play against top teams in this League and show that he might be ready to be battling for the first job next year,” Tallinder said. “I think that’s natural for him. He’s at that stage of his career too, where he wants to get that job.”

Enroth, however, is keyed in on the Bruins and what he will have to do well to pick up his second victory of the season.

“It’s a tough team and a pretty big team so they like to bring a lot of bodies in front of the net. For the key for me is probably to fight to see the puck and stay sharp on that part,” he said.


Center Zenon Konopka was scratched Tuesday night as well but said he’s set to play on Wednesday. TSN reported Tuesday that Konopka had finger surgery over the Olympic break and Konopka confirmed that Wednesday morning.

“I don’t know how TSN got a hold of that, but I broke my finger in Minnesota, the fifth game of the year,” he said. “Kept on playing with it and it was bugging me quite a bit. So over the break, we thought it was an opportunity to get in there and clean up the bone.”

Konopka expects the finger to be 100 percent “sooner than later.” While Nolan said on Wednesday that Konopka was held out of the lineup as a precaution, the 33-year-old forward declared himself ready to go. Konopka has talked with the coaches and training staff every morning and feels like he’ll be able to contribute on the ice against the Bruins.

“Today we thought it was a day to try it,” he said. “You love to get back in there. You love to play hockey. So it’s going to be exciting. Always a good rivalry with Boston so it’ll be fun.”

If it turns out Konopka can’t go, Nolan said they’ll dress John Scott as a seventh defenseman and play with 11 forwards.


PROJECTED LINEUP
26 Matt Moulson – 23 Ville Leino – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
82 Marcus Foligno – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 65 Brian Flynn
37 Matt Ellis – 24 Zenon Konopka – 8 Cody McCormick

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 52 Alexander Sulzer
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain

1 Jhonas Enroth
30 Ryan Miller

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 02.25.2014 / 1:31 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

There’s only one game on the NHL schedule Tuesday night and it’s happening in Buffalo.

The Sabres take on the Carolina Hurricanes at 7 p.m. at First Niagara Center for a game that was originally supposed to be played on Jan. 7. However, a snowstorm in Buffalo caused the game to be postponed until Tuesday.

Both teams are coming off a two-week break because of the Olympic Winter Games, but some players have gotten more rest than others.

Ryan Miller, Jhonas Enroth and Henrik Tallinder returned from Sochi on Monday and while Enroth and Tallinder will receive the night off, Miller will start in goal for Buffalo.

WATCH: TED NOLAN'S PRESS CONFERENCE

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan is confident that Miller will be able to overcome the time zone change and play a solid game.

“I think the biggest thing is you’re a little bit foggy from the travel,” Nolan said after the team's morning skate. “So hopefully he’ll knock the fog out through the pregame skate today and be real good for us tonight.”


Several Sabres used the break to recover from various injuries and three players who missed the team’s last game in Ottawa on Feb. 6 will suit up against the Hurricanes.

Forwards Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick and defenseman Tyler Myers are all expected to play Tuesday night.

Moulson missed four games with an upper-body injury and will return to a line featuring center Tyler Ennis and right wing Drew Stafford.

“We’ve been having some good chemistry lately and I think adding Matty back in the fold will just improve things,” Ennis said. “I know we’ve had a long break and some time off, so hopefully we can get the rust off early.”

McCormick has been out since Dec. 18 with an upper-body injury. Tyler Myers sustained a lower-body injury on Feb. 3 but is also ready to go.

“We had a ton of injuries before so it’ll be nice to have all the guys around and a full squad,” center Cody Hodgson said. “It’s just also good that we had a couple good days of real good practice and come out ready.”

Zenon Konopka is expected to be Buffalo’s scratch at forward.


One day after being dismissed by Nolan from practice, John Scott will find himself in the lineup. With Tallinder not dressing for the game, Scott will be on the blue line, a spot he spent the majority of his career prior to coming to Buffalo. He said he’ll be paired with Jamie McBain.

On Monday, Nolan wasn’t satisfied with how Scott was performing in practice and sent him off the ice. Scott apologized to Nolan afterward and everything has been ironed out between the two.

“I was perfect with John Scott yesterday. Sometimes in this sport, you have those moments, but it’s forgotten right afterwards,” Nolan said. “He’s in tonight. It wasn’t so much I threw him off [the ice], he just banged his stick and I asked him to stay in [the dressing room] until he cooled down a little bit. So everything’s good.”

Scott said he understands his coach’s stance and what Nolan expects from each player.

“Obviously I wasn’t happy. No one likes getting sent off from practice but I was having a tough practice and maybe overreacted a little bit and got a little upset, but it happens and you move on,” Scott said. “…I know exactly where he’s coming from. He doesn’t want lackadaisical practices and I was terrible yesterday.

“I couldn’t make passes or anything and it was just one of those days where nothing was going right so I understand his decision. I totally get what he’s doing and I would’ve probably done the same thing.”


PROJECTED LINEUP

26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
23 Ville Leino – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 65 Brian Flynn
82 Marcus Foligno – 8 Cody McCormick – 37 Matt Ellis

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 52 Alexander Sulzer
6 Mike Weber – 57 Tyler Myers
32 John Scott – 4 Jamie McBain

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 02.05.2014 / 2:30 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

Ryan Miller will start in goal for the Buffalo Sabres in their final home game before the Olympic break Wednesday night but Tyler Myers will not play due to injury.

The game at First Niagara Center against the Pittsburgh Penguins can be seen nationally on NBCSN at 7:30 p.m. and will feature 11 athletes headed to Sochi, Russia for the Olympic Games.

Miller (United States), Zemgus Girgensons (Latvia), Jhonas Enroth (Sweden) and Henrik Tallidner (Sweden) will represent the Sabres in Sochi as well as interim coach Ted Nolan, who will be behind the bench for Team Latvia.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are sending seven players to compete in the games including captain Sidney Crosby (Canada), who will also serve as the captain of Team Canada; Chris Kunitz (Canada); Evgeni Malkin (Russia); Jussi Jokinen (Finland); Olli Maatta (Finland); Paul Martin (U.S.) and Brooks Orpik (U.S.).

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Penguins coach Dan Bylsma is the head coach for Team USA and Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato is on his Olympic staff.

Miller is vying for a starting role with Team USA and has another opportunity to show Bylsma first-hand what he can do.

However, he’ll be without Myers, one of the Sabres ice-time leaders, in front of him.

Myers will miss the game with a lower-body injury he sustained in the second period Monday night against the Edmonton Oilers.

“It doesn’t look very good for tonight,” Nolan said. “We’ll see. Hopefully he’ll be ready tomorrow.”

Nolan said he won’t make any changes at forward, so Zenon Konopka and Ville Leino will be healthy scratches for the second straight game.


Chad Ruhwedel, a healthy scratch against the Oilers, will be back in on defense. Against Pittsburgh, which leads the Eastern Conference, Ruhwedel is going to try and simplify his game.

“Stay within yourself. Stay within your own game,” he said. “For me, it’s being sound defensively and getting the puck out of the zone, making a good first pass. That’s what I’m going to try to do tonight.”


Crosby enters the game having been held scoreless in back-to-back contests for only the second time all season and for just the third time in 92 games dating back to the beginning of last season.

NHL.com: MILLER VS. CROSBY FEATURE

The Sabres would like to keep Crosby off the scoresheet, but historically, have had a lot of trouble doing so. He’s collected at least one point in 22 of 24 games against Buffalo and is currently on a 16-game point streak against the Sabres that dates back to Dec. 29, 2007.

He has nine goals and 17 assists over that span. He’s also recorded points in each of his 13 visits to Buffalo (8+12).

Crosby leads the League with 75 points (27+48) and the Penguins are the highest scoring team in the East. Nolan will look to bring the battle to them.

WATCH: NOLAN PREGAME PRESS CONFERENCE

“I think sometimes, if we’re too careful, that’s when you get hurt,” he said. “If you want to sit back and try to play a strong defensive game against a pretty potent team, you’re playing a little bit afraid, you’re sitting back a little too much versus you have nothing to lose.

“Let’s just try to attack them as hard as we can and force them and take our chances in the offensive zone. We still have 100-something feet to make up for that one mistake.”


After the game, the Sabres travel to Ottawa for a game Thursday night against the Senators. Then the team is off until they play again on Feb. 25 against Carolina.

Some players nursing injuries will take the break to heal up and Drew Stafford, who has missed time with an upper-body injury, hopes the team can go into the break on a high note.

“Coming back from Colorado, we wanted to have a little bit of a response against Edmonton. Unfortunately it didn’t work out the way we wanted, but I thought the effort was there,” he said. “We’re just going to try and carry that battle, compete, into tonight against one of the top teams in the League and hopefully give them some sort of run for their money.”


PROJECTED LINEUP
17 Linus Omark – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
84 Philip Varone – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 65 Brian Flynn
32 John Scott – 37 Matt Ellis – 82 Marcus Foligno

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 52 Alexander Sulzer
20 Henrik Tallinder – 5 Chad Ruhwedel
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82