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POSTED ON Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 2:12 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

Brayden McNabb hasn’t played in an NHL game in almost two weeks. However, he has seen some game action during that time in the American Hockey League.

After sitting out as a healthy scratch for two games, the Sabres sent the 22-year-old defenseman to the Rochester Americans last Wednesday. In a game that night against Utica, he scored a goal, picked up two assists and was named the game’s first star. As planned, Buffalo recalled him following the game.

He’s been scratched in Buffalo’s two games since but McNabb will be back in the lineup when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday at First Niagara Center at 7 p.m.

McNabb said he had a productive meeting with the Sabres coaching staff before he was sent down and is looking forward to playing in a Sabres jersey again.

“[When] I came out of the meeting, I wasn’t mad that I was going down. It was a positive thing, so it was a good meeting and I’m just excited to be back in the lineup tonight,” he said after the team's optional morning skate.

“It’s always nice to know what they’re thinking and they’re being honest with you too. Sometimes it’s not all stuff you need to work on. It’s good to know. They’ve been really good with it and they’re easy to approach so it’s nice, especially for guys like me who are young.”


Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan praised McNabb’s positive attitude upon his return from the one-game stint in Rochester. Nolan also said that he believes McNabb has the potential to be a consistent player in the League.

“He has an intangible, he has the grit part to his personality. He’s going to get better and better because he wants to work at it and he’s willing to work at it and he’s willing to learn,” Nolan said. “He knows himself. He’s almost there. When you’re honest with yourself and you know what you need to work on, he’s one of those kids that’s going to be a long-time NHL player once he gets here permanently.”

McNabb hopes he can carry some of the good things he’s done on the ice lately into the game against Ottawa. He is also expected to see some time on Buffalo’s second power-play unit.

Mike Weber will be the Sabres’ scratch on defense. Ryan Miller is expected to start in goal.

Buffalo hasn’t played the Senators since the second game of the season back on Oct. 4. Ottawa won that game 1-0 on a late third-period goal by Erik Karlsson.

After the game on Tuesday, the two clubs will see each other again on Thursday in Ottawa for the second half of the home-and-home series. With the tumultuous history between the clubs, having the two games so close together may help to really rekindle the rivalry.

“To kick it off with a back-to-back, it’s definitely special,” Sabres forward Drew Stafford said.


Stafford leads the Sabres with 23 points (6+17) in 37 career games against Ottawa.

“It’s kind of a playoff atmosphere a little bit where the first game, we’re going to want to obviously come out hard tonight and be aggressive and go after that,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”

The game is one of six the Sabres will play this month against divisional opponents.

Nolan has been back behind the Sabres bench for about a month now and he said he can tell the team is improving in certain areas. Both on and off the ice, he can see where the team is growing and learning.

One specific area is in the team’s work ethic and Nolan has been able to pinpoint which players give a consistent effort.

“The one thing I really noticed the last week here or so, the good guys are starting to rise a little bit. The guys who are not putting that effort in game in and game out, they’re starting to stick out a little bit too,” Nolan said. “One thing you do with a team is kind of hold them accountable to one another, so it’s starting to work itself out. There’s patience, but we don’t get that confused with avoiding it.

“We’re in a production business. We have to perform and if you’re not performing then maybe you have to sit and watch for awhile.”

One player that is producing offensively for the Sabres is center Tyler Ennis. He’s recorded two goals and an assist in the past two games.

“Every time you score, you get that … confidence back, a little bit at a time,” he said. “When you get confidence, you get a little more poise. You kind of settle in a little bit rather than rushing things and getting back to making plays.”


Nolan shook up the lines at practice on Monday. Stafford found himself with Marcus Foligno and captain Steve Ott, who will likely center the line. They’ll look to find some chemistry quickly and start the Sabres off on the right foot.

“Just to keep our work ethic up and keep competing. The minute we take our foot off the game, you know what happens when we let other teams control the pace of the play,” Stafford said. “I think if we’re skating and being the more aggressive team, the chances will continue to come and hopefully sooner rather than later, it’ll start to break.”

Ennis will center a line with wings Matt Moulson and Zemgus Girgensons. Cody Hodgson will start the game between Luke Adam and Matt D’Agostini. The fourth line will consist of John Scott, Cody McCormick and Brian Flynn.

Ville Leino will be a healthy scratch for the Sabres. Alexander Sulzer remains on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.

Leino has five points through 18 games this season, but no goals. He saw his ice time dip to 13:18 against the Canadiens on Saturday after playing at least 18 minutes in each of the five previous games.

“Certain players with a certain skill set, they have to bring it,” Nolan said. “And if you’re not going to play as well as you can, sometimes it’s better off to sit and look and observe for a while and hopefully when he gets back in, he’ll play the way he’s capable of playing.”


Leino said after the morning skate that he didn’t feel that his game against Montreal was good enough, but felt satisfied with his play over the past two weeks. While the production hasn’t been there, he felt that his line had a lot of offensive zone time while producing quality scoring chances.

“I’ve been playing my game the way I’ve always been playing it. It just hasn’t gone in,” Leino said. “There are a lot of good chances, lot of scoring chances so sometimes it doesn’t go your way and you’ve got to go back to work and try it.”

In addition to his recent play, Nolan said that he did not think Leino practiced well Monday.

“I think we’re a product of our environment. If we don’t practice hard, how are you going to play hard?” Nolan said. “So it’s one of those things. We have to set a certain standard here that you have to be accountable for. Not just Ville, but everybody.”

POSTED ON Saturday, 12.7.2013 / 2:11 PM ET
By Kevin Snow - (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE

MONTREAL – Jhonas Enroth will look to improve on his perfect record against the Montreal Canadiens tonight when he gets the start for Buffalo at the Bell Centre.

Despite being just 1-5-2 this season, Enroth is 3-0-0 in his career against the Habs, along with a stingy 2.34 goals against average and .922 save%.

Tonight’s start will be the first for Enroth since he turned away 23 shots in a tough 1-0 overtime loss in New Jersey one week ago. Prior to that start, Enroth had gone two weeks without any game action.

Interim coach Ted Nolan said he’s spoken to Enroth and Ryan Miller about their playing time in recent days. With Miller having started 10 of Buffalo’s last 12 games, Nolan said he needs to be aware of when his number one goaltender could use a break.

“We had a nice meeting with the goaltenders about a week ago, and kind of mapped out a game plan. But it’s always subject to change,” explained Nolan. “The way Jhonas played last game, I had no hesitation about putting him back in today.”

Citing the need for additional speed up front against Montreal, Nolan said that Brian Flynn will be back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch in Thursday’s loss to the Rangers.

Drew Stafford and Christian Ehrhoff were the only two Sabres to not take part in today’s optional morning skate, however both will be in the lineup tonight. Defenseman Brayden McNabb got some extra work after the skate and is expected to be scratched. Nolan didn’t tip his hand as to which forward would be watching from the press box tonight.

Montreal comes into tonight’s game 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, including four straight wins. They currently occupy top spot in the Atlantic Division with a record of 18-9-3 (39 pts.), and have won five straight at home.

Tonight’s game is expected to be the 378th consecutive sell-out crowd at the always-raucous Bell Centre, which seats 21,273. It’s been almost 10 years since Montreal last played before a home crowd that was below capacity – January 8, 2004 vs. Tampa Bay.

POSTED ON Thursday, 12.5.2013 / 1:18 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

The Buffalo Sabres haven’t played since Saturday and are ready to get back to work Thursday night.

They’ve had three strong days of practice leading up to their match against the New York Rangers at First Niagara Center at 7 p.m. and are looking forward to finally lacing up their skates again for game action.

Center Cody McCormick has missed four games with an upper-body injury, but is ready to roll against the Rangers.

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said that defenseman Alexander Sulzer, who has missed practice all week with an undisclosed injury, will be placed on injured reserve so that McCormick can return to the lineup.


McCormick has been out since Nov. 21, but Nolan doesn’t expect him to miss a beat.

“Certain players have a certain skill set and I don’t think he’s going to miss too much. He brings energy to our lineup,” Nolan said after the team's optional morning skate. “He’s only been out a week, so it won’t affect him too much, but we expect some high energy from Cody and we’re looking forward to getting him back in the lineup.”

Defenseman Brayden McNabb was back with the team Thursday morning after spending Wednesday with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.

McNabb scored a goal and recorded two assists Wednesday night in the Amerks’ 6-1 win over the Utica Comets.

“It doesn’t surprise me because he went down with such a great attitude. Attitude is everything. It’s like a flat tire. If you don’t change it, you ain’t going nowhere,” Nolan said. “He had a real good attitude about going down. He knows that he’s got a little ways to go for being a full-time NHL player and he went down and made us look bad for sending us down because he played real well.”

McNabb is expected to be a healthy scratch against the Rangers. With Sulzer now on injured reserve, Jamie McBain will be able to step back into the lineup.


McBain has two goals and three assists in 16 games this season. He’s been a healthy scratch the past four games.

“It was an unfortunate situation that happened with him because I was trying to learn [about] everyone here and I was trying to get Myer’s game going and Ehrhoff’s game going and he just kind of got caught up into the mix,” Nolan said. “It was unfair to sit him out for any other reason but we had to find out about other people so we know he’s more of an offensive-gifted guy. Hopefully we’ll expect that.”

After missing practice on Wednesday, Matt D'Agostini was on the ice and is ready to play.

Ryan Miller is expected to start in goal.

The Sabres announced Thursday that they would loan rookie center Mikhail Grigorenko to the Russian men's national junior ice hockey team so that he can play in the IIHF World Junior Championship in Sweden later this month.

Grigorenko has seen limited ice time in his first full NHL season. Through 18 games, he’s scored twice and added an assist. He’s averaging 11:25 of ice time per game and has played a larger role in the games he’s dressed under Nolan. He has not played in Buffalo’s last two games.

“I think it’s going to be great for me because here, I’m not getting enough ice time so I’m a little bit frustrated. But there, I’ll play a lot,” he said. “It’s a really good level there, all the best junior players. I’m going to play against players my age and I’ll play a lot. I’ll play big minutes, so it’ll be a really good experience for me.”

Nolan said it will be a great opportunity for Grigorenko to get some playing time on a big stage.

“It’s the best junior kids in the world playing. So he’ll have that chance and hopefully represent himself very well and help further his development.”

Grigorenko said he’s really looking forward to representing his country again. He’s played for Russia in the last two junior tournaments.

“I’m really excited. I can’t wait to go there and meet all my friends and start preparation for world juniors,” he said. “It’s a big tournament for us and we have all the chances to win the gold and hopefully I’ll be able to bring my best game there.”

One of those friends is Sabres defensive prospect Nikita Zadorov, who was selected in the first round of this year’s draft. Zadorov will also participate in Russia’s selection camp.

Grigorenko said he will meet Zadorov in Toronto for a flight to Russia on Sunday.

As for other players in the Sabres system who could play in the tournament, J.T. Compher has been named to Team USA’s preliminary roster and Gustav Possler was named to Sweden’s preliminary roster. Amerks defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who suffered an upper-body injury last week, is eligible to play for Team Finland.

The 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship will take place from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Malmo, Sweden. Canada, the United States, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany will compete in Group A. Group B consists of Russia, Sweden, Finland and Norway.

POSTED ON Saturday, 11.30.2013 / 6:18 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

NEWARK, N.J. – After an emotional overtime victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Buffalo Sabres will stick with the same lineup against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday with one exception. Jhonas Enroth will start in goal.

“It’s one of those things where you have to have a reward system,” Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said at Prudential Center. “We were planning on So-And-So taking So-And-So’s spot, but So-And-So played pretty well, so we can’t do that.”

Nolan said he would like to harness some of the energy his club had against Toronto for the game in New Jersey.

“We had a certain spirit last night to the game,” he said. “I think whatever you do for a living, if you have that spirit and you play with a certain amount of energy, good things happen.”

However, they’ll have to be careful against a Devils team that has a reputation for capitalizing on other team’s mistakes.

“The one thing I’ve always preached when I was going against this team before, it you have to have patience,” Nolan said. “They’re a very patient club. They’ve been like this for years and years and once you try to do something out of the ordinary, that’s when they make you pay for it. So patience is a virtue tonight.”

Nolan also said that the Sabres had planned to call right wing Patrick Kaleta up from the Rochester Americans this week, but a long-term injury Kaleta sustained on Friday will prevent them from doing so.

Nolan said that the injury could end Kaleta’s season, but they’ll know more on Sunday.

“We were going to bring him up. We were going to bring him up after the weekend. We already spoke to him. It was in the works,” Nolan said. “We had to get him back here. He wasn’t playing. He needed him to get some more games and unfortunately that happened. But we were definitely going to bring him back.”

26 Matt Moulson – 19 Cody Hodgson – 21 Drew Stafford .
9 Steve Ott – 23 Ville Leino – 27 Matt D’Agostini
72 Luke Adam – 63 Tyler Ennis – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
32 John Scott – 65 Brian Flynn – 82 Marcus Foligno

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 52 Alexander Sulzer
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
6 Mike Weber – 3 Mark Pysyk

1 Jhonas Enroth
30 Ryan Miller

POSTED ON Friday, 11.29.2013 / 12:39 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

They say familiarity breeds contempt. That’ll be put to the test Friday night when the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs face each other for the third time in two weeks.

Matt D’Agostini will make his debut with the Buffalo Sabres on Friday when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7:30 p.m. at First Niagara Center. He was claimed off waivers on Tuesday and will skate on the team’s second line with center Ville Leino and captain Steve Ott. He knows all about rivalries with the Maple Leafs having started his career the Montreal Canadiens.

“Being an Ontario boy, it’s always nice to play and beat the Leafs,” D’Agostini said after the morning skate at First Niagara Center.

Faceoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

The Sabres have had problems scoring goals this season and have just one goal in each of their past four games.

“There are guys who can score, but nobody’s scoring right now and it’s going to have to start sooner or later,” Leino said. “But we’re playing better, we’re getting more chances so hopefully we’ll get a couple good wins, a couple good goals and there’s no better place than starting tonight.”


Buffalo hopes that the addition of D’Agostini will help ease those scoring woes. He scored 21 goals in 2010-11 with St. Louis and his new linemates will look to utilize his shot.

“He’s a big time shooter. He’s scored over 20 in this league already, so getting him the puck’s going to be key,” Ott said. “I’m sure he’s going to want to prove a lot of his game, obviously, getting picked up and getting a fresh chance on a new team. He wants to bring it.”

D’Agostini knows Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan as both are from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. and he’s gotten acquainted with his teammates fairly quickly as well.

“Teddy’s a great guy, really easy to talk to,” he said. “Just from getting the vibe from around the room here, a lot of the boys really appreciate what he’s brought to the team.”

Buffalo is also looking to improve their penalty kill. They’ve allowed at least one goal while shorthanded in each of their past five games. They gave up two power-play goals against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday.

“We had a long meeting about that today. Special teams win and lose you games now, especially the last few years in this league and that’s what’s happening again,” Ott said. “Our P.K. has been dismal in the last little while, two against last game. We have to shore up a lot of things, clears are very important. A lot of them, if you don’t clear that puck the first or second time, it’s coming back in your net and that’s kind of what’s happened in the last little while.”


Nolan said that when it comes to killing penalties, the easiest thing to do is committing to staying out of the box.

“Don’t take bad penalties. We have a lot of work to do in that area,” he said. “You don’t mind killing off the real good penalties. Once in awhile, the ones we have been taking are not very good. We just have to get better in the shot lanes.”

Mikhail Grigorenko, Jamie McBain and Brayden McNabb will be healthy scratches for Buffalo. Nolan said that Grigorenko and McNabb will likely be back in the lineup Saturday night in New Jersey.

Tyler Ennis will move to center, taking Grigorenko’s place between Luke Adam and Zemgus Girgensons on the third line.

“I think he’s a gifted little guy that needs to have some room to skate with the puck and do some things with it,” Nolan said. “We don’t need him battling along the boards so we’ll put him in the middle.”

Center Cody McCormick, who is on injured reserve with an upper-body injury, won't be ready to play Toronto, but may be available against the Devils on Saturday, according to Nolan.

Ryan Miller was the first goaltender off the ice at practice and is expected to start in goal. Nolan said Jhonas Enroth would play this weekend as well, so he’ll likely start against New Jersey.

26 Matt Moulson – 19 Cody Hodgson – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 23 Ville Leino – 27 Matt D’Agostini
72 Luke Adam – 63 Tyler Ennis – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
32 John Scott – 65 Brian Flynn – 82 Marcus Foligno

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 52 Alexander Sulzer
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
6 Mike Weber – 3 Mark Pysyk

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: 4 Jamie McBain, 25 Mikhail Grigorenko, 44 Brayden McNabb
Injured Reserve: 8 Cody McCormick

POSTED ON Wednesday, 11.27.2013 / 1:55 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

A new name will be on the Buffalo Sabres roster sheet Wednesday night, but he may or may not be on the ice.

The team has claimed forward Matt D’Agostini off of waivers. D’Agostini was waived by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. He played in eight games this season, recording an assist and four penalty minutes. He joined the Penguins at the start of the season after signing a one-year contract in July.

A roster move will have to be made to make room for the 27-year-old forward. It is not yet known if D’Agostini will make it to Buffalo for the game against the Montreal Canadiens at 7 p.m. at First Niagara Center.


He scored 21 goals with St. Louis in 2010-11 and has notched 96 points (47+49) in 275 career NHL games with four teams.

D’Agostini will wear No. 27 with the Sabres.

John Scott may play for the Sabres. He was a healthy scratch on Sunday against Detroit. But even before the news about D’Agostini broke, Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said whether Scott would play or not would be a game-time decision. If D’Agostini is unable to play against the Canadiens, Scott will almost certainly be back in the lineup.

Nolan said that outside of Cody McCormick, who is on injured reserve, the team is healthy up top.

“It’s one of those things where we want to show some kind of consistency here and see what falls off after we do that,” Nolan said after the team’s optional morning skate. “To be fair, we have to make sure we keep the same lineup for a couple games in a row and then see.”


McCormick skated with the Sabres for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury against Philadelphia on Thursday. Nolan hopes to have McCormick available by this weekend when the Sabres have back-to-back games against Toronto and New Jersey.

“I was amazed how well he did today so we’re hoping he gets back sooner,” Nolan said.

Nolan said Jhonas Enroth will play one of the games this weekend and that Ryan Miller will get the start against the Canadiens.

Montreal’s special teams on the road have been extremely effective this season. They have the League’s best power play on the road – they’ve converted 28.9 percent of their man-advantage opportunities –and have killed off 28 of 31 penalties (90.3 percent) away from home, second best in the NHL.

Sabres rookie forward Zemgus Girgensons has been a big contributor on the Buffalo penalty killing unit this season. When it comes to facing a team like Montreal, he says the focus has to be on what his team needs to do.

“I don’t think you have to look at where the other team is in the standings with their power play,” he said. “It’s more about us executing our P.K., what we do on it and I think it’s just focusing on our work.”

POSTED ON Sunday, 11.24.2013 / 3:41 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

The Buffalo Sabres are hoping their energetic practice on Saturday will translate Sunday evening when they host the Detroit Red Wings at 5 p.m. at First Niagara Center.

Lineup changes from the last game include recalled defenseman Alexander Sulzer pairing with Christian Ehrhoff, Mark Pysyk returning to the blue line and forwards Corey Tropp and Brian Flynn sliding in on the fourth line.

Flynn will center that line with Marcus Foligno on the left and Tropp on the right. Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan hopes that a good practice will translate into positive results.

“We’re going to give those guys a whirl and see what happens,” Nolan said prior to the game. “I think yesterday was probably the first day we almost started getting what we want to do here. It felt good yesterday so hopefully it’ll carry into the game.”

Foligno moves from the first line on Thursday to the fourth against Detroit. Nolan said he wants to see the 22-year-old forward go to the net more and play a more consistent game.

“Marcus is going to be a big power forward, but we gotta to see the power forward come out of him. The last couple games, he was OK,” Nolan said. “With young kids coming in, I tell that to my son all the time you can’t be OK. You have to be better than OK. So hopefully we’ll see a better effort from Marcus tonight.”

Nolan confirmed that defensemen Mike Weber and Jamie McBain will be healthy scratches. Pysyk will skate with Brayden McNabb. Pysyk was a healthy scratch against Philadelphia on Thursday.

“We only have a limited amount of time to see everybody and I mentioned to [Pysyk] it wasn’t because he was playing poorly. I just wanted to see other people in different positions and now I saw it and he’s right back in,” Nolan said.

The Red Wings will be without center Pavel Datsyuk, who was injured Saturday night against the Ottawa Senators. Detroit coach Mike Babcock hopes that Datsyuk will not be out long-term.

“I just texted him and he seems to be doing just fine so we’ll see if he’s available next game,” he said this afternoon.

Babcock said that captain Henrik Zetterberg will play with Johan Franzen and Gustav Nyquist. Daniel Alfredsson will return to the lineup and skate with Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm. Daniel Cleary will be with Stephen Weiss and Mikael Samuelsson. Drew Miller, Joakim Andersson and Tomas Tatar will make up the fourth line.

Jonas Gustavsson will start in goal for Detroit.

“The bottom line is someone’s gotta grab it there. Grab it and you gotta get yourself on a roll,” Babcock said of his goaltenders. “Confidence is fleeting in the NHL. When you don’t score for awhile, you start guessing. It’s the same in all positions we can be better.”

The game against Detroit marks the first of 10 home games in which the Sabres will wear their new alternate jersey. The jersey was designed by the Sabres’ creative team in collaboration with Reebok. Challenged by Sabres ownership to use gold as the primary jersey color for the first time in team history, the design team looked at jerseys and uniforms from across the full spectrum of professional sports for inspiration.

The result was a two-tone jersey with gold as the primary color on the front and navy blue on the back. This design concept is believed to be a first for the NHL.

A newly designed Buffalo Sabres wordmark appears on the players’ pant leg as well as just below the neckline on the main jersey, right above the Sabres’ traditional crest on the front of the jersey. Additionally, a unique font and number art were designed by Reebok and were inspired by the tips of actual sabers.

The all-new font is used for the jersey numbers as well as players’ names. Captain and alternate captain insignia incorporate crossed sabers as design elements and the patches have been moved from the traditional spot on the chest to the shoulder of the jersey.

Sabres Lineup
26 Matt Moulson – 19 Cody Hodgson – 21 Drew Stafford
63 Tyler Ennis – 23 Ville Leino – 9 Steve Ott
72 Luke Adam – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
82 Marcus Foligno – 65 Brian Flynn – 78 Corey Tropp

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 52 Alexander Sulzer
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
44 Brayden McNabb – 3 Mark Pysyk

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: 4 Jamie McBain, 6 Mike Weber, 32 John Scott

POSTED ON Thursday, 11.21.2013 / 1:59 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

PHILADELPHIA – The Buffalo Sabres lineup will have a bit of a different look heading into their game Thursday night against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.

Luke Adam and Brayden McNabb will make their season debuts for the Sabres after being recalled from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League on Wednesday. Mikhail Grigorenko will return to the lineup after sitting out the past three games and Tyler Ennis is “ready to go” after missing practice on Wednesday, according to Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan.

Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Nolan said that the players went out to dinner Wednesday night and that provided a good opportunity for Adam and McNabb to get acclimated with their new teammates. As far as what he’s said to them about the game coming up, the best advice, he said, is for them to not change much in terms of how they’re playing.

“There’s not much words you can say. Just go out there and do your thing that got you here. That’s the most important thing,” Nolan said after the team’s optional skate at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday. “Sometimes when you get to a place, you try to change your game a little bit. What got them here is the way they’ve been playing down there so we want them to play the same here.”

Adam said that he scored his 13 goals, which is tied for the American Hockey League lead, in all different situations. Early on, they came in the area around the crease, but he’s since tallied on rushes and on the power play.

“It’s nice to be able to get back on the sheet and be able to score goals again, to get them different ways,” he said. “There’s not one way you score a goal. Some guys are comfortable scoring with one way, but at the end of the day in this League and any other league, most goals are scored from right around that net.”

McNabb will skate with someone he spent a lot of time with on the ice in training camp – defenseman Jamie McBain.

“It should be a good fit,” McNabb said. “He’s a right-handed shot, good skater, so it’ll be easy to play with him.”

Defenseman Mark Pysyk and forwards Corey Tropp and Brian Flynn will be healthy scratches according to Nolan. They continued worked with the assistant coaches after practice had ended.

“These guys just have to learn to do it on a more consistent basis. Sometimes it’s good to sit back,” Nolan said. “It has nothing to do with their lack of ability. It’s just their maturity has to come at the right time and they’ll get back in the lineup.”

With Pysyk out of the lineup, Mike Weber will likely slide up on the top pair with Christian Ehrhoff.

Ryan Miller was the first goaltender off the ice and is expected to start in goal.

Grigorenko has been a healthy scratch in each of Nolan’s first three games back behind the Buffalo bench and has been looking for a chance to play more. Nolan said that they’ll give Grigorenko a “good look” against the Flyers.

“The kid, you have to give him some credit. He’s the one who said, ‘You haven’t seen me play yet.’ He said it to us three or four times yesterday but we’ll see him play and we’ll see what he has,” Nolan said. “He’s a young up-and-coming that’s going to be important to our organization so we have to make sure we put him in a good place. We’ll put him here and see what he has.”

Nolan will coach against Craig Berube, the former Flyers enforcer. Both are First Nations men and Nolan said that the matchup will be a special one for their tribes, particularly for the kids who aspire to play hockey at the professional level.

“I was pretty happy when I heard Craig Berube was the head coach here. It’s really big for First Nations territory back home in Canada. I’m sure word spreads pretty quickly, so I’m sure there are a lot of people that are quite proud and will be watching this game,” he said. “I think it’s really good for the next generation of young kids to see that also because we do have a lot of talented kids out there that just need a little break.”

POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.19.2013 / 1:16 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

There were some noticeable absences at the Buffalo Sabres' morning skate on Tuesday.

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said Monday that some changes to the roster would be coming, particularly in terms of some of the younger players on the team. It was apparent Tuesday morning that decisions had been made when the Sabres worked out with 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders. Four rookies were not on the ice for practice.

Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, 19, and center Johan Larsson, 21, were sent to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League. Center Mikhail Grigorenko, 19, will join them albeit on a conditioning assignment. Nolan said Grigorenko had been feeling ill and will return to Buffalo following his stint with the Amerks.

Defenseman Nikita Zadorov, 18, was returned to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, where he will play for coach Dale Hunter and compete for the Memorial Cup.

“There are not too many 18 year olds that can step into this League and be a contributing player,” Nolan said after Buffalo’s morning skate at First Niagara Center. The Sabres take on the St. Louis Blues at 7 p.m.


Nolan looked to his experiences as both a hockey dad and a coach in juniors to help make these decisions with President of Hockey Operations Pat LaFontaine. They will look to bring up players from the Amerks to fill out the roster, but those announcements will be made later on and none of the players that may be recalled will play Tuesday night.

Nolan cited how young players have been brought along slowly by other organizations like Slava Voynov of the Los Angeles Kings. Voynov, a second-round pick in 2008, spent three seasons in the minors before making it to the NHL in 2011-12. This season, he’s third among Kings defensemen in scoring and averages 21:03 of ice time per game.

“We look at where we are with this organization and where we have to go to,” Nolan said. “Proper development is so vital. It’s so important. You look at some of the better teams in this League and how they do it.”

Defenseman Mike Weber has been activated from injured reserve as well. He’s been eagerly awaiting the chance to get back into the lineup after missing the past 10 games with a thumb injury. He is expected to be paired with Jamie McBain.

Weber been practicing with the team for the past week and has noticed that the players’ compete level has increased. He said that when you look at the young players departing for now, there’s a sense that nothing can be taken for granted.

“They’re all good players, all great hockey players and probably going to be here maybe sooner than later. But it’s one of those things that’s the philosophy maybe going back five or so years ago where you have to earn it,” Weber said.

Weber spent three seasons in the AHL before becoming a regular contributor for the Sabres in 2010-11.

“You have to develop in the minors, you have to play your junior. You have to earn the right to be here and it’s nothing against those guys,” he said. “They were given that opportunity so it’s not their fault. But from a standpoint of just hockey and what we want to be as a hockey team, that’s kind of a positive I think.”


Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder, who spent the 2001-02 season in Rochester, said that there is pressure on the veterans still on the team to perform and keep their spots from young guys knocking on the door in the minors.

“That’s the key for the whole organization to keep moving forward,” he said. “Just to have that push from everyone. You push each other that’s what makes a good team.”

Nolan has talked about how young players need to mature at their own pace and that thrusting them onto the NHL stage when they may not be ready could do more harm than good. He said the players were disappointed by the decision, but they now have the opportunity to go out and prove that the organization made the wrong call by not keeping them here now.

“I can’t speak for them, but just by the expression and the emotion, it was almost like a relief,” Nolan said. “…We want these kids to mature. They’re all really good players and they’re going to be great contributors down here at the right time.”

Ryan Miller was the first goaltender off the ice and is expected to start in goal. Nolan said Monday that he’d like to play Miller as much as possible while making sure Miller receives the proper rest in a schedule condensed due to the Winter Olympics.

26 Matt Moulson – 19 Cody Hodgson – 21 Drew Stafford
63 Tyler Ennis – 23 Ville Leino – 9 Steve Ott
82 Marcus Foligno – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 65 Brian Flynn
32 John Scott – 8 Cody McCormick – 78 Corey Tropp

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 3 Mark Pysyk
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

POSTED ON Saturday, 11.16.2013 / 1:38 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

TORONTO – The Buffalo Sabres have yet to win three games in a row this season, but they’ll have an opportunity to do so Saturday night in the second half of a home-and-home series against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre.

Buffalo took the first game Friday night at First Niagara Center by a 3-1 score in the first game behind the bench for interim head coach Ted Nolan. The Sabres improved to 10-1-2 (two ties) all-time in the home portion of their home-and-home series with the Maple Leafs and 2-9-1 in the road games. They previously defeated the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 in the shootout at home Tuesday night.

If the Sabres emerge victorious on Saturday, it’ll be their first win in the road portion of a home-and-home series with Toronto since their 6-3 win on Oct. 31, 1998. Buffalo is 0-6-1 in the seven such games since then.

Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Only five Sabres took the ice for the optional morning skate. Johan Larsson, Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov – scratches in the game on Friday – were out there with Mike Weber, who is on injured reserve, and goaltender Jhonas Enroth. Enroth left the ice much earlier than the skaters, who were put through a good workout by the assistant coaching staff.

Nolan said Friday morning that he does not expect Weber to be cleared to return from his thumb injury until this coming week. Therefore, it’s possible that he could return on Tuesday against St. Louis.

Zadorov is eligible to play in two more games this season before the Sabres are obligated to use up a year on his entry-level contract. He is eligible to return to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League this season as long as he does not play in 10 or more NHL games.

Nolan is expected to address the media later this afternoon.


The game on Saturday also wraps up Buffalo’s fifth of 13 sets of back-to-back games this season. This season, the Sabres are 2-3-0 in the first game of back-to-back sets and 1-3-0 in the second game.

Toronto will have at least one new face in the lineup. Saturday morning, the team acquired forwards Peter Holland and Brad Staubitz from the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Jesse Blacker, a conditional 2014 third-round pick and Anaheim’s 2014 seventh-round selection that was a part of their trade involving David Steckel in March.

Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said that Holland, a 22-year-old center who was selected 15th overall by Anaheim in 2009, may possibly play on one of their top two lines. James van Rimesdyk could slide over from center to the wing as a result. A roster move will have to occur in order to make room for Holland.

“When you do these things, obviously with the center ice position for us, an area which has been decimated with injuries and he’s a big young, skilled center iceman,” Carlyle said. “…He’s been able to provide offense at the junior level and the American Hockey League level and he’s going to get an opportunity to play with some of our better players.”

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