Buffalo Sabres Insider App Twitter Facebook
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

|
|
|
POSTED ON Wednesday, 03.12.2014 / 3:22 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Early on in practice Wednesday morning, Buffalo Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan didn’t like what he was seeing.

He observed numerous missed passes and a level of effort he wasn’t happy with. So he blew his whistle, met with the players on the ice at First Niagara Center and began putting them through extensive skating drills. The players gathered in groups and did laps around the rink until Nolan felt his message had resonated with them.

The veteran members of the team then led a players-only huddle in the corner near the Buffalo bench for several minutes to close out the practice.

“When things aren’t going well and games aren’t going well and you come out in practice and you’re not overly sharp, you’re going to pay the price – and [it was] well deserved,” Sabres forward Matt Ellis said. “When something like that comes in, you hope the message hits home. You come together as a group and you get through it. You pick each other up because there’s no way of getting through that unless you’re doing it together.”

What I care about is the work that you put in and the effort that you put in. We didn’t put the effort in at the beginning of practice and habits are easy to form, good or bad.Ted Nolan

Sabres alternate captain Drew Stafford was one of the players in the middle of the huddle and stressed the importance of having good, consistent practices.

“Even if we are last place, the type of transition we’re going through here with this rebuild, the philosophies and the way that we want to play, it starts in practice,” he said. “It starts with your work habits and attention to detail. When those things aren’t there, it translates to games. That’s the message that was sent.”

To Nolan, the same level of energy and work ethic should be there no matter where a team is in the standings. The ability to develop good habits will then stem from that work.

“I don’t really care what position you’re in or what your skill set is or anything like that. What I care about is the work that you put in and the effort that you put in,” he said. “We didn’t put the effort in at the beginning of practice and habits are easy to form, good or bad. We have to avoid those bad habits and get them out early. We’re still professional people here. We’ve still got a season to go, too. Attention to detail, that’s our No. 1 priority.”

Nolan said he was happy to see some of his older players take charge and hold that meeting. The team coming off a 4-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday and is looking for direction within the locker room. With a two-game road trip coming up, now is as good a time as any for the players to get together and determine the type of team they want to be moving forward.

“[With] what we’re going through now, leaders are going to emerge and the lazy ones are going to emerge, too. Who’s going to win that battle is going to be the leadership on this team. I’ve liked what Drew’s been doing here for us since I’ve been here. He’s steadily gotten better and better. His maturity’s really been coming on and right now’s a good time for him to step up and I’m glad he did.”

The players said they understood Nolan’s message and that if they want to improve and win more games, they’ll have to bond and take that message to heart.

“As a group, we have to get together. Mistakes are being made every shift out there. If you don’t have the support out there from the guy next to you, you’re not going to be successful,” alternate captain Henrik Tallinder said. “To be successful, you have to have the support. If you look at the good teams, they make maybe not as many mistakes, but they make mistakes too, but you always have someone to clean it up for them. That’s what we have to do, too.”

Stafford hopes that the team is able to take the lessons from practice on Wednesday and learn from them.

“We’re all adults here. We’re not going through juniors where you need to be scolded all the time. We need to take accountability for our own actions out there and Ted is an extremely simple guy when it comes to his philosophies. You show up, you compete.”

The Sabres next play in Carolina on Thursday for a date with the Hurricanes at 7 p.m. at PNC Arena. Nolan wants to see a much better effort than he has the past few days.

“I’m hoping they respond the way they should. And that’s coming to give us a good effort tomorrow night against Carolina,” Nolan said. “It does matter, the score. But what matters more is the effort. We have to have good effort so I’m hoping we have a good one.”

|
|
|
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

|
|
|
POSTED ON Monday, 03.10.2014 / 3:26 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

The last thing the Buffalo Sabres need to deal with right now is another injury.

Just before the first period ended in Buffalo’s home game Sunday night against the Chicago Blackhawks, Tyler Myers fell awkwardly in the corner behind his own net. He skated off under some duress, putting little pressure on his right leg.

He returned to start the period on the power play and ended up finishing the game, logging 24:08 of ice time.

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said afterward that they would re-evaluate him in the morning. Come Monday, Myers was not on the ice with the team at practice at First Niagara Center as he was given an extra day to recover.

Nolan expects him to play Tuesday night when the Sabres host the Nashville Predators at 7 p.m.

“Actually, it was a really good sign that it wasn’t as serious as it looked last night, but you never know overnight,” Nolan said. “He had a good night’s rest and he feels pretty good so it was just more of a maintenance day for him. …Lucky stars were on our side, so he’s good to go.”

Buffalo is already without Zemgus Girgensons, Chris Stewart, Torrey Mitchell and Alexander Sulzer due to various injuries.


Once the NHL Trade Deadline passed at the end of last week, the Sabres had a hole to fill at alternate captain. Nolan decided to give the extra “A” to Sabres forward Drew Stafford, who is now in his eighth season with the team. He had served as an alternate captain prior to the start of this season.

Stafford is one of several players including Cody Hodgson, Marcus Foligno, Tyler Ennis and Tyler Myers that Nolan is looking to step up into more prominent leadership roles. Stafford and Nolan had a long chat on the ice after practice about where the team is at both mentally and physically.

“The leadership has really changed. The dynamic of the team has really changed and through change, you see some rise to new challenges and some that don’t,” Nolan said. “Right now, it’s a great opportunity for some of these younger guys. You can see it in several of them. They really took it upon themselves.”

Stafford has 11 goals and 26 points on the season and has, along with his center Ennis, really picked up the pace as of late. Stafford has 13 points (7g+6) in his last 14 games while Ennis has 10 points (4+6) in his last 11 games and 18 points (8+10) in his last 21 games.

Ennis and new linemate Cory Conacher assisted on Stafford's goal on Sunday.

Right now, it’s a great opportunity for some of these younger guys. You can see it in several of them.Ted Nolan

The ability to cancel out any outside distractions and focus on hockey again, particularly after Nolan was brought in to coach in November, is one reason Stafford believes that he and Ennis have been maintain their recent high level of play.

“We’ve been able to play with a little bit more freedom,” Stafford said. “We were given a bigger role and then treated with some respect. Confidence can build off that. I think all the external things aside, basically our heads kind of cleared up and we were able to play.”

The beginning of the 2013-14 season didn’t start well for Stafford. He had only three points in October, but since the start of the new calendar year, he’s picked up 13 points (7+6) in 16 games and his averaging .813 points per game in that span.

Nolan has said that, particularly since the team traded away many of its veteran players over the past two weeks, Stafford has really taken on a bigger leadership role.

“Maybe at the start of the season, he didn’t start the year he wanted to but the way he’s stuck through it and they way he’s battled through it, some people question his work ethic once in awhile and he just persevered,” Nolan said. “That, to me, showed real good leadership on his side.”


Nolan was also asked about his future with the Sabres and said that a representative of his and Buffalo general manager Tim Murray are having ongoing discussions about a contract extenstion.

"I put it into my representative’s hands and I guess him and Tim will be talking soon if not have talked already,"
 Nolan said. "So, just formalities and getting a couple things ironed out and doing all the legal versus that. We’ll leave it in their hands for now."


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 – 20 Henrik Tallinder 
4 Jamie McBain

1 Jhonas Enroth
34 Michal Neuvirth

|
|
|
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

|
|
|
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

|
|
|
POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.04.2014 / 1:32 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

TAMPA – The Buffalo Sabres did not take the ice Tuesday in Tampa as the NHL Trade Deadline, set for 3 p.m. on Wednesday, inches closer and closer.

The Sabres arrived in Tampa early Tuesday morning and with the possibility that some players may be dealt within the next two days, Nolan decided to give them a chance to spend time with each other away from the rink.

“Their minds are probably not on hockey. Some don’t know if they’re going to be here after today. Who knows who’s going to be here tomorrow?” he told the media at the team's hotel. “Right now they’re here together so I decided to give them a day to really enjoy just being themselves.”

Nolan was also asked about his status with the team and about the possibility of him signing a contract extension. For now, Nolan said he’s not going to concern himself with that and will allow the front office to focus on the trade deadline.

“They don’t need to be negotiating a contract at this point,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m here. I’m trying to do the best job that I possibly can and worrying about the team. We’ve got a bunch of young kids that don’t really know what happened and why it happened. And it’s my job to settle their [nerves], give them some direction, some leadership right now.”

Nolan was hired as coach on Nov. 13 on an interim basis to help get the team moving in the right direction. He previously served as Sabres coach for two seasons from 1995-97. Although this season has been highlighted by some tough times as the team sits in 30th place, Nolan is happy to be coaching in Buffalo again.

“I’m ecstatic to be back. If you’re not disappointed with what’s going on, you’re hiding your emotions,” he said. “I’m a pretty emotional guy so I’m a little bit where that set me back, but as far as the excitement about being here in Buffalo hasn’t altered one bit.”

The Sabres plan to practice Wednesday morning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. They’ll take on the Lightning on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

|
|
|
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

|
|
|
POSTED ON Sunday, 03.02.2014 / 1:36 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

After a whirlwind of a weekend off the ice, the Buffalo Sabres were met by some new faces at practice Sunday morning.

Forward Chris Stewart and goaltender Jaroslav Halak joined the team on the ice at First Niagara Center for their first practice with the team since being acquired from the St. Louis Blues on Friday for Steve Ott and Ryan Miller.

Between the trade Friday and the sudden resignation of president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine on Saturday, there have been a lot of distractions for a team that’s now won its past three games to deal with.

Interim coach Ted Nolan, who was brought in by LaFontaine in November to help steer the on-ice product back in the right direction, is locked in on what the team needs to do to have success moving forward.

“I think we’re all numb right now so right now, we’re just going to try to get this team focused on the Dallas Stars and that’s our next opponent,” he said. “We’ve got two new players in here and they come into this situation.”

As far as his future with the team is concerned and a possible contract extension, Nolan said he didn’t he didn’t think it was the right time to discuss those matters.

“When you’re emotional, you never want to make emotional comments on anything,” he said. “Yes, we did talk about a contract. Right now, it’s not about the contract. It’s about what’s transpired in this organization, it’s about what happened to a very dear friend and we’ll leave it at that.”


The Sabres jumped on a plane to Dallas after practice in preparation of a Monday night meeting with the Stars. Tyler Ennis should be ready to play after missing the past two games with general body soreness, Jhonas Enroth will start in goal and Stewart will play on a line with Matt D’Agostini and Cody Hodgson.

“The younger players, they need direction and they need coaching,” Nolan said. “They don’t need to hear all this stuff. The one thing about hockey, they go on the ice and they play.”

D’Agostini played with both Stewart and Halak when he was with St. Louis from 2009-13 and also played with Halak when both were in the Canadiens organization.

When D’Agostini was traded from the Blues to the Devils last season, Halak told him they’d be on the same team again at some point down the road.

“I told him we might meet again and here we are,” Halak said.

D’Agostini is looking forward to playing with his old – and new – teammates.

“Definitely no slouches that we go back so we’re happy to have them,” he said.


With the NHL Trade Deadline set for 3 p.m. on Wednesday, more trades occurring that involve the Sabres would not be out of the realm of possibility. The two newest Sabres could potentially be on the move as well.

Both Stewart and Halak have heard the rumors and aware of the possibility that Buffalo may not be their final destination this season.

“As long as I’m here I’m just going to focus 100 percent of my energy on winning hockey games for the Buffalo Sabres,” Stewart said.

The Blues are currently battling for the top spot in the Western Conference and are preparing to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup. The Sabres, on the other hand, sit in 30th place in the League and will miss the playoffs for the second season in a row.

“Obviously it’s tough when you’re traded from almost being the first one to being the last one,” Halak said. “But I’m here and I’m going to try to do my best here when I get a chance.”

Stewart is also looking forward to a new opportunity with the Sabres.

“I’ll tell you, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed at first, but if you think I’m going to come in here and pout and feel sorry for myself, that’s not the kind of person that I am,” he said. “So I’ve got to make the best of this situation and look at the positives. They’ve got a good young team here.”


With Ott now in St. Louis, Nolan said he won’t look to name a new captain right away.

“I don’t think anyone can replace a captain like Steve Ott right now. We’ll pass around the leadership,” Nolan said.

He then singled out Drew Stafford as a player that’s really impressed him lately as a leader.

“We’re going through an emotional period right now and the way Drew handled himself [after] losing one of his close friends and losing your captain, he really stepped up the other night in that room and took the lead,” Nolan said. “He kept his personal feelings behind so that’s what we’re all trying to do right now.”

|
|
|
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

|
|
|

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