Linus Omark will be in the lineup against his former club as well, playing on a line with Stafford and Tyler Ennis. Buffalo acquired the 26-year-old forward from Edmonton for a conditional sixth-round pick in December.
The Sabres played another team with a talented crop of young forwards in the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday in Denver. After a 7-1 defeat, Buffalo is looking to come out with a better effort.
“Playing against Colorado the other night, [that was] one of the best forward performances that we’ve played against, I think,” Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers said after the Sabres’ morning skate. “With looking at [Edmonton’s] lineup and knowing some of the guys on the other side there, they’re young and have a lot of good team speed up front. I’m sure it’s a similar-type game that they’re going to bring and we’re going to have to be much more ready than we were the other night.”
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Stafford, who said he’s ready to go after missing four games with an upper-body injury, said that against Edmonton, it’s important to stay out of the penalty box.
“Against these guys, they probably feed off their offense and their power play if they get going,” he said. “Skilled players, they more chances you give them, the more opportunities they’re going to get and that’s something we’re going to try and control.”
Before re-aggravating an injury on Jan. 18 that had kept him out for four games earlier last month, Stafford had put up five points (3+2) in four games.
“We have to make some changes. Things didn’t go so well last game so when that happens, change is evident,” Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said.
Leino has nine assists in 37 games this season, but has yet to find the back of the net.
“On his side, he had played in spurts. He hit a couple goal posts and he’s just missing here, just missing there,” Nolan said. “When those things just keep missing, you look at the overall picture, [it looks like] that he’s not playing very well at all. But truth is, he has played in spurts and he must didn’t click in.
“Drew, he comes back and boom, pucks go in for him. So if that happens with Ville one day, you never know what you have.”
WATCH: TED NOLAN PREGAME PRESS CONFERENCE
Chad Ruhwedel will be the team’s healthy scratch on defense. Nolan, however, said that he’s actually been impressed by Ruhwedel’s play of late.
“As I mentioned to Chad this morning. Don’t read into any of it,” Nolan said. “As I mentioned to the players, you just worry about your own play and let all the other outside factors, you don’t know why you’re not playing – but it has nothing to do with his lack of play. He’s played pretty well. So there’s other things behind it.”
Captain Steve Ott did not participate in the morning skate. Center Cody McCormick, who is on injured reserve, skated with the team and for the first time since sustaining his injury on Dec. 17, did not wear a red non-contact jersey.
17 Linus Omark – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
84 Phil 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 – 57 Tyler Myers
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Matt D’Agostini seemed to be hitting his stride when he found himself forced out of the lineup.
An upper-body injury caused him to leave the Buffalo Sabres’ game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 15 after playing only 2:19.
He’s set to return Thursday night after missing the past six games when the Sabres take on the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena. Sabres fans in Western New York and Southern Ontario can watch the game at 9 p.m. on either MSG or Bell.
Although he was happy that the points were finally starting to come for him, he was more pleased with the way his all-around game had started to take shape.
“It’s not the points that I’m concerned about. It’s just skating hard on pucks. My legs were really coming around. I was feeling really good out there,” D’Agostini said after the team’s morning skate. “We had some good games. We established a good forecheck and we got our chances and goals from that. I’m just hoping to get back to the same thing I was doing.”
D’Agostini took the morning skate on Tuesday against the Washington Capitals, but did not play.
“He was almost ready to go last game, but we decided a couple of more days wouldn’t hurt,” Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. “So he’s ready to go tonight.”
Ville Leino has since moved up to that line and after a strong third period against Washington, Nolan told the media he’ll likely keep Leino there.
The Sabres must make a roster move in order to activate D’Agostini from injured reserve.
Nolan said that the defensive lineup will be made just before the game. He said a few defensemen were feeling under the weather, including alternate captain Christian Ehrhoff, who was the only player not to participate in the morning skate.
Drew Stafford skated with the team and Nolan said he is close to returning from an upper-body injured that’s sidelined him for two games. Cody McCormick also made the trip and practiced in a red non-contact jersey.
Ryan Miller is expected to start in goal. His career numbers against Phoenix are his best against any team. He’s 5-0-0 in his career when facing the Coyotes with a 0.98 goals against average and a .966 save percentage.
The Sabres have won their last three games in Phoenix, with the last loss coming on Jan. 21, 2008. They’re 6-3-1 in their last 10 games against the Coyotes and 6-4-0 on the road.
Coming off a 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road Monday night, the Buffalo Sabres are looking for a better result Tuesday at home against the Washington Capitals.
The Sabres host the Capitals at First Niagara Center at 7:30 p.m. The game can be seen nationally on NBCSN.
Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan will make a few lineup changes for the game.
When asked about McBain and his play against Pittsburgh, Nolan spoke about how he wants his team to play the same way every game, regardless of the opponent. To improve in that regard, he’s looking for a more consistent effort from each player.
“I just want to see better. As every player on this team, you’ve got to be better. There are a couple others that were in the same boat but the bottom line is we have to be better,” he said. “There are just no other ways to put it, especially with the team that we have.
“We can’t afford one or two bad blunders and turnovers and not concentrating. This is a 60-minute game and we have to play that way all the time and if we don’t, we’re going to get ourselves in trouble no matter how good our goaltending is.”
The Sabres held a players-only meeting after the loss in Pittsburgh that lasted almost 10 minutes. Captain Steve Ott said after the morning skate Friday that they revered the Penguins a little too much and need to correct that moving forward into the game against the Capitals.
“We had a little talk. Obviously we’re trying to better our team here as well on a daily basis. They’re such a good team in aspect of the players and personnel that they have but you can respect your opponent but you can’t fear them,” he said. “I thought we were a little gun-shy to start that game, almost in awe – a little bit of an awe factor. You can’t have that mindset.”
With that mindset also comes the need to play a more physical, desperate game. Alternate captain Henrik Tallinder addressed that after the morning skate and also said that it’s up to the veteran players to push for more accountability.
“We have to come in with a lot more grit and a lot more determination into a game like last night,” Tallinder said. “To be able to get games going or get the team going, you have to play physical and be a little bit more competitive than we were last night.”
Buffalo is looking to move past the game in Pittsburgh and focus on putting in a good effort against Washington. It’s the second game of five for the Sabres over an eight-day stretch.
“It wasn’t a good game overall for us, so we’re trying to put that behind us and focus on Washington tonight,” Sabres center Cody Hodgson said. “They’re another skilled, top-end team that we need to keep in check and figure out how to generate some offense.”
The Sabres have not allowed a power-play goal in their past four games and are 9-for-9 during that stretch. Ott credited the work assistant coach Joe Sacco has done with the penalty killers both on the ice and during video sessions.
“[Continuing] to keep short, aggressive shifts has been a key to our penalty kill as of late,” Ott said. “I think you’ve seen us all pressuring in certain situations and I think we’re starting to really feel like we’re reading off each other a lot better. If one guy goes to pursue pressure, they’re all going.”
PITTSBURGH – Visiting teams don’t typically have a lot of success at Consol Energy Center.
On home ice, the Pittsburgh Penguins have gone 14-1 in their past 15 games. They’re 39-10 at home over the past two seasons and no team has more wins at home during that stretch.
However, in the past two seasons, only three teams have beaten the Penguins twice at Consol Energy Center: the Boston Bruins, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres won on both April 2 and 23, 2013.
Buffalo hopes to pick up their first victory in Pittsburgh this season Monday night.
“That’s an understatement that tonight will be a challenge,” Sabres defenseman Chad Ruhwedel said after the team's morning skate. “They’re a quality hockey team, a lot of really good players on that side. But we played really well the other night in Columbus and we’re just going to try to keep the ball rolling.”
The game can be seen nationally on NBCSN at 7:30 p.m.
Drew Stafford will not play with an upper-body injury. He missed four games earlier this month with the same injury and Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said after the morning skate that Stafford re-aggravated it Saturday night in Columbus. Nolan doesn't expect Stafford to miss as many games this time around.
Before the game Saturday, Stafford had been on quite a roll. He recorded three goals and two assists in the three previous games.
Ryan Miller will start in goal for the Sabres. Nolan’s reasoning is simple: Go with your best goaltender against the best team in the Eastern Conference.
“I just know how good he is and you play him as often as you can,” Nolan said. “You look at, especially this year going into the Olympics and monitoring our play time between both goaltenders. If you look at Miller’s numbers lately, it’s been pretty effective. He’s a little bit more well rested and in return, he’s playing much better.”
After taking his usual reps during the team’s morning skate at Consol Energy Level, Miller skated down to the other end of the ice and started working with the forwards. One by one, each forward skated in on a breakaway. The extra work was for a good reason.
The Penguins are 4-0 in the shootout this season. They’ve won nine-straight shootouts and 14 of their last 15. Since Feb. 26, 2011, Pittsburgh has won 22 of 25 shootouts.
The Sabres are 6-4 in the shootout this season.
Nolan played 18 games for the Penguins during the 1985-86 and shared a story with the media about Mario Lemieux, who was only 20 at the time.
“I remember sitting down next to Mario and they had a poster night. I asked him to sign it and he asked, ‘For who?’ And I said, ‘To me,’” Nolan said laughing. “And I still have it at home. It says, ‘To Teddy.’ That’s it.”
Lemieux finished that season, his second in the NHL,with 48 goals and 93 assists.He finished second in scoring to Wayne Gretzky, who had 215 points – or 74 more than Lemieux.
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.