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POSTED ON Monday, 12.09.2013 / 2:31 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Zemgus Girgensons always appears to be on a mission to prove something. The 19-year-old rookie forward scored a highlight-reel goal against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, his first since the season opener, taking two Habs defensemen with him as he drove to the net and beat goaltender Carey Price.

After practice at First Niagara Center on Monday, he tried to downplay the personal significance of that early third-period goal, which put Buffalo back in the game. Ultimately, however, they lost to the Canadiens 3-2.

“Probably the best confidence booster for all of us would be a win,” he said. “[It was] definitely nice to get a goal and the whole team is struggling with them, so it’s definitely nice to get one.”

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan switched up the lines at practice Monday and moved Girgensons up with center Tyler Ennis and left wing Matt Moulson. Girgensons knows that he’s going to have to keep going to the blue paint while playing a hard-nosed style in order to have continued success.

“Every game, I can’t let my work ethic go down because that’s pretty much why I’m here,” Girgensons said. “When I do something like that, it just shows people that I can be here.”

WATCH: ZEMGUS GIRGENSONS INTERVIEW


Nolan has been vocally supportive of Girgensons’ play since he took over behind the bench last month. He also serves at the Latvian national coach and had the opportunity to work with Girgensons during the IIHF World Championship in the spring, so he’s quite familiar with Girgensons and his style.

“One thing you can’t teach him is the ability to work,” Nolan said. “He competes on a daily basis and it’s great to see him getting rewarded for his work lately.”

Nolan completely broke up the Sabres’ top line of Moulson, center Cody Hodgson and right wing Drew Stafford. Hodgson found himself with Luke Adam and Matt D’Agostini. Stafford skated with Steve Ott and Marcus Foligno. Nolan said he would like to try Ott at center.

“Our top line had a little trouble, maybe the chemistry wasn’t quite right so we talked to them and we decided that instead of having one [scoring line], we’ll try to have three,” Nolan said. “We have to get this thing turned around together. It’s not going to be one or two individuals, it’s going to have to be a collective response. Hopefully this works.”

Hodgson said he played with Adam when both were with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League last season. With Adam’s penchant for going to the net, Hodgson thinks he can create a strong connection with him and D’Agostini.

GREAT SEATS STILL AVAILABLE FOR TOMORROW NIGHT

“Chemistry’s just a huge part of this game. Sometimes it’s instant, sometimes it takes a little while to develop,” Hodgson said. “It doesn’t matter which line you’re playing with, you’ve got to play your game and maybe we’ll adapt or mesh and hopefully it does.”

Each line wears a different colored jersey at practice and Ville Leino was one of four forwards skating in yellow Monday morning. Brian Flynn, Cody McCormick and John Scott were the others.

“We need to get certain people playing better,” Nolan said. “Playing OK is not good enough. We have to play better.”


Defenseman Alexander Sulzer skated with the team for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury against the New Jersey Devils on Nov. 30. He’ been on injured reserve and Nolan said that Sulzer would not be available for the team’s home game against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.

Brayden McNabb will return to the lineup, according to Nolan. McNabb’s been a healthy scratch for the Sabres the past four games. In one game with the Amerks during that stretch, he recorded a goal and two assists.


Amerks defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen was named to the selection camp roster of the Finnish National Junior Team on Monday. He would need to get the green light from the Sabres in order to participate.

“I’m quite sure we’ll give [him] permission to play there,” Nolan said.

Granted, he would also need to be healthy enough to go. He’s been out of the Amerks lineup since sustaining what the team is calling an upper-body injury on Nov. 29.

The 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship will take place from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Malmo, Sweden. Sabres center Mikhail Grigorenko is currently in Russia's selection camp with defenseman Nikita Zadorov. J.T. Compher has been named to Team USA’s preliminary roster and Gustav Possler has been named to the preliminary roster for Sweden.


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

Defensemen: 3 Mark Pysyk, 4 Jamie McBain, 6 Mike Weber, 10 Christian Ehrhoff, 20 Henrik Tallinder, 44 Brayden McNabb, 57 Tyler Myers

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

Power Play
First Unit
Moulson – Hodgson – Ennis
McBain / Ehrhoff

Second Unit
Foligno – Ott – Stafford
McNabb / Myers

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POSTED ON Friday, 12.06.2013 / 3:05 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

While many things have changed in the Buffalo Sabres front office, goaltender Ryan Miller says that for him, a lot of things remain the same.

He’s still the Sabres’ starting goaltender and, although he’s been the subject of trade talks the past two seasons, his job is still to keep pucks out of the net and give Buffalo a chance to win every night.

Miller looks to rebound from his performance against the New York Rangers on Thursday. He made 28 saves, but in his postgame comments, he wasn’t happy with any of the three goals he let in.

“My job remains the same. I have to respond with a better effort than I had against the Rangers and keep building my game, hopefully in anticipation of putting myself out there for USA Hockey and helping this team get on the right page here,” he said after practice Friday at First Niagara Center. “We’re improving in small areas and our games are becoming hockey games now instead of lopsided kind of events. We’re in games and we gotta find ways to win. Hopefully that’s coming.”

I have to kind of wait and see what happens, see what the plan is.Ryan Miller

Pat LaFontaine is the new face of the hockey department as he took over as president of hockey operations last month. He’s currently in the process of finding a new general manager for the club and working to forging a new identity for the franchise. One of the decisions he will have to make concerns his goaltending situation. Miller is in the final year of his contract. Jhonas Enroth signed a two-year deal this summer.

Miller said he has had only “exploratory” talks with LaFontaine in terms in an effort to get to know him better.

“My thinking’s always been, wait to see what plan presents itself and it feels like I’ve been saying that for awhile, but things have shifted so much,” Miller said. “Even going back to last year, I said that was the same thing, but nothing happened in regards to my situation and that wasn’t in my control. It’s something where it’s still not completely under my control so I have to kind of wait and see what happens, see what the plan is.”

For the most part, the Sabres have adhered to the goaltending schedule that was in place before interim coach Ted Nolan was hired on Nov 13. Since then, Miller said that he, Nolan, Enroth and goaltender coach Jim Corsi have met to discuss how each goaltender’s energy levels can be maximized through a condensed schedule.

“It’s not all about right here in the moment, it’s projecting forward. We have some busy months ahead of us and a tough finish to the season. You have to think ahead sometimes,” Miller said. “When Ted got in here, we had to sort things out and let him know what we thought as goaltenders and as a group, what Jim Corsi and Jhonas and I are shooting for. I support the schedule moving forward because it’s going to give me a chance to be at my best game in and game out.”

Ted Nolan said earlier this week that he believes that having a great goaltender is a foundation or success.

“You look at all the championship teams and it starts from the goaltending out,” Nolan said Wednesday. “…You build around him versus use him as a pawn to try to get something to make you better. You learn to deal with the now as a coach. We’ve got one of the better goaltenders in the world here. I’d prefer to build around him, myself.”

Miller said he appreciated Nolan’s comments.

“It’s nice to hear. I appreciate that kind of gesture from someone who’s been around hockey for a long time,” he said. “…It’s nice that your coach believes in you, so I’ll take it as a positive, but again, there’s still a lot more to see around here.”

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist signed a new seven-year contract this week that will keep him in New York until he’s 39. Miller, 33, was asked if he thinks he might be able to keep playing that long.

“It’s not far away, so I’d like to think I can play,” he said. “I feel good now, it’s just trying to do some good things with this club and I still enjoy the challenge. I guess I don’t really picture myself stopping until they tell me to so as long as there’s a spot in the NHL, I think I’ll be competing and doing the best I can.

“Obviously I want to win a championship and feel that kind of team success and that would be something to shoot for. I’ll chase it as long as I can.”


The Sabres went 117:54 over two games before Tyler Ennis scored Thursday night with 2:06 remaining in the third period against New York. They’ve been getting opportunities, but have had trouble finishing their chances of late.

“We’re doing some things that we need to keep continuing to do,” Sabres center Cody Hodgson said. “That’s something that we can build off of and make sure we’re still doing that. That’s not something you get away from. You worry when you’re not getting chances, but it’s tough when you go two games without a goal. That’s tough.”

Hodgson also addressed the tripping penalty he took 7:11 into the third period. After being stopped on a partial breakaway by Lundqvist, he tripped Rangers forward Rick Nash in the corner while attempting to maintain possession of the puck. The Rangers scored on the ensuing power play to make it 2-0, making a Buffalo comeback extremely difficult.

“That was bad,” he said. “I have to hold on a little more. I thought I was going to lose it after getting hacked, but I just wanted to get away quick and I should’ve tried to hold on a little bit longer. Once the guy picked up the puck in the corner, I was actually just looking to slash the puck away and I took out his feet. That was a frustrating play and they score on it.”


Center Cody McCormick and defenseman Alexander Sulzer, who is on injured reserve, did not practice Friday. Nolan said that McCormick is “a little banged up” but expects him to be ready for the game Saturday in Montreal.

Rookie center Mikhail Grigorenko will travel to Russia this weekend to take part in the country’s selection camp in preparation of the IIHF World Junior Championship. Sabres management feels that participating in the tournament later this month will be extremely beneficial to his development.

“He has to go down there and be one of their best players. He can’t just go down and be a player. He has to be one of their best players,” Nolan said. “Once you dominate one level, it gets you ready for the next level. You go through the history of all those young stars, they all have to do it.”


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 – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
32 John Scott – 65 Brian Flynn – 82 Marcus Foligno

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

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

Did not skate: Cody McCormick, Alexander Sulzer (injured reserve)

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POSTED ON Friday, 12.06.2013 / 12:05 PM
By Rob Poling - Digital Content Intern / BEYOND THE BOARDS

This December, there are tons of opportunities to catch some exciting junior hockey in the Buffalo and Southern Ontario region.

Here are the monthly schedules for the Ontario Junior Hockey League and the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League:

ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE (OJHL – Jr. ‘A’)

Buffalo Jr. Sabres
Buffalo vs. Burlington – Saturday, Dec. 7 @ 8 p.m. (Wave Twin Rinks)
Georgetown vs. Buffalo – Tuesday, Dec. 10 @ 7:30 p.m. (Northtown Center)
Buffalo vs. Trenton – Friday, Dec. 13 @ 7:30 p.m. (Duncan Memorial Arena)
St. Michael’s vs. Buffalo – Sunday, Dec. 15 @ 2:30 p.m. (Northtown Center)
Mississauga vs. Buffalo – Friday, Dec. 20 @ 8 p.m. (Northtown Center)
Buffalo vs. Cobourg – Monday, Dec. 23 @ 7 p.m. (Cobourg Community Centre)

Hamilton Red Wings
Whitby vs. Hamilton – Monday, Dec. 9 @ 7:30 p.m. (Dave Andreychuk Arena)
Hamilton vs. Mississauga – Saturday, Dec. 14 @ 8 p.m. (Port Credit Arena)
Georgetown vs. Hamilton – Monday, Dec. 16 @ 7:30 p.m. (Dave Andreychuk Arena)
Hamilton vs. Kingston – Thursday, Dec. 19 @ 7 p.m. (Invista Center)
Hamilton vs. Orangeville – Saturday, Dec. 21 @ 7 p.m. (Alder St. Rink)
Oakville vs. Hamilton – Monday, Dec. 23 @ 7:30 p.m. (Dave Andreychuk Arena)

GREATER ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE (GOJHL – Jr. ‘B’)

Fort Erie Meteors
Niagara Falls vs. Fort Erie – Saturday, Dec. 7 @ 7:15 p.m. (Fort Erie Leisureplex)
Fort Erie vs. Thorold – Thursday, Dec. 12 @ 7:07 p.m. (Thorold Community Arena)
Buffalo vs. Fort Erie – Saturday, Dec. 14 @ 7:15 p.m. (Fort Erie Leisureplex)
Fort Erie vs. Welland – Sunday, Dec. 15 @ 7 p.m. (Welland Arena)
Fort Erie vs. Caledonia – Friday, Dec. 20 @ 7:30 p.m. (Haldimand Centre)
Welland vs. Fort Erie – Saturday, Dec. 21 @ 7:15 p.m. (Fort Erie Leisureplex)

Port Colborne Pirates
Port Colborne vs. Niagara Falls – Friday, Dec. 6 @ 7:30 p.m. (Gale Centre)
Port Colborne vs. Welland – Sunday, Dec. 8 @ 7 p.m. (Welland Arena)
Thorold vs. Post Colborne – Friday, Dec. 13 @ 7:30 p.m. (Vale Centre)
Port Colborne vs. Ancaster – Saturday, Dec. 14 @ 7:30 p.m. (Morgan Firestone Arena)
Port Colborne vs. St. Catharines – Friday, Dec. 20 @ 7:30 p.m. (Jack Gatecliff Arena)
Niagara Falls vs. Port Colborne – Sunday, Dec. 22 @ 2 p.m. (Vale Centre)
Port Colborne vs. Niagara Falls – Friday, Dec. 27 @ 7:30 p.m. (Gale Centre)

Niagara Falls Canucks
Port Colborne vs. Niagara Falls – Friday, Dec. 6 @ 7:30 p.m. (Gale Centre)
Niagara Falls vs. Fort Erie – Saturday, Dec. 7 @ 7:15 p.m. (Fort Erie Leisureplex)
Welland vs. Niagara Falls – Friday, Dec. 13 @ 7:30 p.m. (Gale Centre)
Niagara Falls vs. Thorold – Thursday, Dec. 19 @ 7:07 p.m. (Thorold Community Arena)
Thorold vs. Niagara Falls – Friday, Dec. 20 @ 7:30 p.m. (Gale Centre)
Niagara Falls vs. Port Colborne – Sunday, Dec. 22 @ 2 p.m. (Vale Centre)
Port Colborne vs. Niagara Falls – Friday, Dec. 27 @ 7:30 p.m. (Gale Centre)

Welland Jr. Canadians
Welland vs. Ancaster – Saturday, Dec. 7 @ 7:30 p.m. (Morgan Firestone Arena)
Port Colborne vs. Welland – Sunday, Dec. 8 @ 7 p.m. (Welland Arena)
Welland vs. Niagara Falls – Friday, Dec. 13 @ 7:30 p.m. (Gale Centre)
Fort Erie vs. Welland – Sunday, Dec. 15 @ 7 p.m. (Welland Arena)
Welland vs. Fort Erie – Saturday, Dec. 21 @ 7:15 p.m. (Fort Erie Leisureplex)
Buffalo vs. Welland – Sunday, Dec. 22 @ 7 p.m. (Welland Arena)

Thorold Blackhawks
Ancaster vs. Thorold – Thursday, Dec. 5 @ 7:07 p.m. (Thorold Community Arena)
Fort Erie vs. Thorold – Thursday, Dec. 12 @ 7:07 p.m. (Thorold Community Arena)
Thorold vs. Port Colborne – Friday, Dec. 13 @ 7:30 p.m. (Vale Centre)
Niagara Falls vs. Thorold – Thursday, Dec 19 @ 7:07 p.m. (Thorold Community Arena)
Thorold vs. Niagara Falls – Friday, Dec. 20 @ 7:30 p.m. (Gale Centre)
Thorold vs. Caledonia – Saturday Dec. 21 @ 7:30 p.m. (Haldimand Centre)

St. Catharines Falcons
Caledonia vs. St. Catharines – Friday, Dec. 6 @ 7:30 p.m. (Jack Gatecliff Arena)
Buffalo vs. St. Catharines – Friday, Dec. 13 @ 7:30 p.m. (Jack Gatecliff Arena)
Port Colborne vs. St. Catharines – Friday, Dec. 20 @ 7:30 p.m. (Jack Gatecliff Arena)
St. Catharines vs. Ancaster – Saturday, Dec. 21 @ 7:30 p.m. (Morgan Firestone Arena)

Buffalo Regals

Buffalo vs. Caledonia – Saturday, Dec. 7 @ 7:30 p.m. (Haldimand Centre)
Ancaster vs. Buffalo – Tuesday, Dec. 10 @ 7 p.m. (Buffalo State College Arena)
Buffalo vs. St. Catharines – Friday, Dec. 13 @ 7:30 p.m. (Jack Gatecliff Arena)
Buffalo vs. Fort Erie – Saturday, Dec. 14 @ 7:15 p.m. (Fort Erie Leisureplex)
Caledonia vs. Buffalo – Tuesday, Dec. 17 @ 7 p.m. (Buffalo State College Arena)
Buffalo vs. Welland – Sunday, Dec. 22 @ 7 p.m. (Welland Arena)
Buffalo vs. Ancaster – Saturday, Dec. 28 @ 7:30 p.m. (Morgan Firestone Arena)

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 12.04.2013 / 2:47 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

The Buffalo Sabres assigned defenseman Brayden McNabb to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League on Wednesday, but Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said not to expect him there for very long.

McNabb’s been a healthy scratch for Buffalo the past two games and with the Amerks hosting Utica on Wednesday, he’ll have an opportunity to log some big minutes right away.

“The greatest thing about having the Rochester Americans so close [is that] he can go down and play,” Nolan said after practice at First Niagara Center. “He’s sat out almost five days now, so right now we can get him some game action and we’ll recall him right after the game.”

Right wing Matt D’Agostini and defenseman Alexander Sulzer did not practice. Nolan said that D’Agostini is fighting the flu and hopes that he’ll be available Thursday night when the Sabres host the New York Rangers. Sulzer, meanwhile, has not taken the ice all week as he deals with an undisclosed injury.

WATCH: TED NOLAN'S PRESS CONFERENCE

“We thought he was going to be better today. He’s gotten a lot better today, but not to the point where he could play yet or practice, so it’s going to be day-to-day,” Nolan said.

It’s possible that Buffalo could put him on injured reserve so that they can activate center Cody McCormick, who is ready to return to the lineup. However, Nolan said they’ll wait to see how Sulzer feels Thursday morning before making that move.


Wednesday marked the third practice day in a row for the team. They focused on special teams play toward the second half of the session.

Marcus Foligno has been active on the penalty kill this season and talked a lot on the ice with assistant coach Joe Sacco on Wednesday.

“P.K. in this League is huge. It’s a game-changer, for sure. For myself, playing minutes, you want to be counted on to be out there and be able to shut down top lines and top power plays,” Foligno said. “He’s just trying to teach me about the penalty kill right now and getting used to it. It’s been going pretty well.”

GREAT SEATS STILL AVAILABLE FOR THURSDAY'S GAME

Foligno has been on the fourth line the past few games where Nolan wants him to be more of a force in the physical game. He’s skated with John Scott and Brian Flynn and the line has had their share of offensive opportunities recently. Foligno is trying to make the most of his ice time and feels that his game has improved as of late.

“I think the last couple games have been better. Just the work ethic and consistency have been there and things like that. I think [Nolan] just wants physicality from me every shift, just being simple,” he said.

“…It’s up to me. When I move my feet and am hard on pucks and protect the puck, I’m noticeable out there. And when I don’t, I’m not noticeable, so he just wants me to be noticeable every night and be a player that has an impact.”

Nolan talked about Foligno’s play on Tuesday and has liked the adjustments that the 6-foot-3, 223-pound wing has made.

“Marcus is a big powerful forward and I told him he’s just big. He wasn’t powerful. He wasn’t hitting anybody. He wasn’t using his size to his advantage. I told him we needed that,” Nolan said. “We needed him to be more aggressive on the first, on the forecheck, needed him to cause some havoc for the opposition and I thought the last couple games, he started doing that.”

WATCH: INTERVIEW WITH FOLIGNO'S LINEMATE JOHN SCOTT

Foligno’s ice time has increased in each of the past four games. On Saturday in New Jersey, he played 11:31 with 1:53 coming on the penalty kill.

“I also told him that if he continues to do it, those guys on the top three lines better be watching out because he’s coming,” Nolan said.


Nolan and president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine have discussed the possibility of loaning rookie center Mikhail Grigorenko to the Ice Hockey Federation of Russia for the IIHF World Junior Championship later this month.

Grigorenko said Wednesday that he has not talked to anyone yet about it, but he would welcome the chance to play for Team Russia in the tournament, which will be held in Sweden.

“Nobody has spoken with me yet and there’s still some time. I’m always happy to represent my country and I would be happy to go there and have the opportunity to play there,” he said. “If they want me to play there, I guess we’ll discuss it with Pat and with Ted and we’ll see what’s going to happen.”

WATCH: INTERVIEW WITH MIKHAIL GRIGORENKO

Grigorenko has played on the Russian national team the past two years and believes they have a good chance to win gold this year.

Defenseman Nikita Zadorov, a first-round selection of the Sabres in this year’s draft, will take part in Russia’s selection camp. Forward J.T. Compher, a second-round pick in 2013, has been named to Team USA’s preliminary roster.


26 Matt Moulson – 19 Cody Hodgson – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 23 Ville Leino
72 Luke Adam – 63 Tyler Ennis / 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
32 John Scott – 8 Cody McCormick / 65 Brian Flynn – 82 Marcus Foligno

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

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

Power Play
First Unit
Moulson – Hodgson – Ennis
Stafford – Ehrhoff

Second Unit
Adam – Ott – Leino
Myers – McBain

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 12.03.2013 / 3:08 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Since Ted Nolan was named interim coach of the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 13, he’s made a big effort to get to know his players. He’s leaned on the teams’ veterans for both insight and to set a good example for the rest of the players.

Nolan cited Drew Stafford and Ville Leino as two players he’s seen improve in his time with the team. He thinks they’ve benefited from a fresh start.

“When I first got here, they seemed a little bit confused on their roles and responsibilities on this team. They were a little bit confused on how they fit into certain things,” Nolan said. “But I looked at them as those guys are the senior guys on this team. They have to be relied upon, they have to be looked upon as your leaders. We only go as far as our leaders go, so my initial thought process there was just try to get them playing the way they’re capable of playing.”

WATCH: VILLE LEINO INTERVIEW

One of the first changes Nolan made to the lineup was giving Leino more responsibility on the ice by moving him to center. Leino has also seen his ice time increase about 4:30 per game since Nolan took over.

He said he has developed a positive relationship with his coach over the past few weeks.

“It’s great. He tells you what he wants out of you and he wants you to work hard, compete, do the things you’re good at,” Leino said. “So far it’s been great and I think everybody here likes him, obviously, because he’s honest. You just have to compete and do your job out there. That’s all you need, so it’s been great.”


Cody McCormick, currently on the injured reserve list with an upper-body injury, is ready to return to the lineup. He’s worked out in full with the team over the past few days. He said long practices like the ones the coaching staff has held between games are extremely beneficial for the players.

The Sabres don’t play again until Thursday when they host the New York Rangers at First Niagara Center at 7 p.m.

PURCHASE TICKETS FOR THURSDAY'S GAME

“It starts in practice. If we’re doing it here, we’re going to bring it into a game,” he said. “If you kind of lollygag in a practice drill, it’s not something that you want to do in a game and everybody in the room will see it if you do it in practice. There are guys in here who will be the first ones to tell him, ‘Pick it up.’”

Nolan said that creating a mindset for the players in which they want to come to the rink every day and put forth a solid effort is critical to the process of putting a team in a position to be successful.

“We worked today hard on the ice, I thought. I told them, there’s nothing like a hard day’s work to make a person feel good,” he said. “We just have to make them feel good and their natural ability will take over.”

With Nolan still relatively new to the team, having a few days off presents a good opportunity for the players to get to know him. It allows the team time to bond as well.

“It’s just fitting in in the dressing room. I think everybody is on the same page here,” McCormick said. “Everybody is bringing their work ethic to the rink every day. You come to the rink excited. We have another day of practice and I think everybody in here is ready to play a game.”


Defenseman Alexander Sulzer missed his second day of practice with an undisclosed injury.

“We thought his injury was going to get a little bit better today, but [he took] another day to give it a rest and we’ll see how it is tomorrow,” Nolan said.

If Sulzer is healthy enough to practice Wednesday, he should be ready to go Thursday night, according to Nolan.


Nolan was asked about the possibility of loaning Mikhail Grigorenko to the Ice Hockey Federation of Russia so that the 19-year-old rookie center could compete with the national team at the IIHF World Junior Championship later this month. Nolan has had talks with president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine regarding their plans for Grigorenko.

“We’re not 100 percent sure exactly what we’re going to do, but we’re discussing all possibilities,” Nolan said. “…He’s got to be playing. I’ve never seen a player develop [by] not playing, so he’s got to play for sure.”

WATCH: TED NOLAN'S PRESS CONFERENCE

With McCormick set to come back from injured reserve, the Sabres could also return Grigorenko to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in order to make room on the roster.

“We have a lot of possibilities to look at,” Nolan said. “First of all, we want to make sure it’s a competitive field here and the people who are here are competing and earning the job versus just giving it to them. So we’re starting to turn that table, the guys are starting to earn it.”


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 / 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
32 John Scott – 65 Brian Flynn / 8 Cody McCormick – 82 Marcus Foligno

3 Mark Pysyk, 4 Jamie McBain, 6 Mike Weber, 10 Christian Ehrhoff, 20 Henrik Tallinder, 44 Brayden McNabb,  57 Tyler Myers

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Monday, 12.02.2013 / 4:33 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

The Buffalo Sabres have a few days to practice before their next game and are looking to make the most of it.

Monday morning, the team worked as a group with skating consultant Dawn Braid for approximately 30 minutes at First Niagara Center. She had the players moving up and down the ice to improve their strides and power skating technique.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with Dawn now for almost four years. She’s made great improvements on my stride alone,” Sabres center Cody Hodgson said. “I feel like every time I go out, whether it’s a 10-minute touch-up session or a couple hours with someone on the ice, it always makes me feel more comfortable and smoother and a more efficient skater.”

After the session with Braid, the Sabres held a traditional practice.

Buffalo is coming off a stretch in which they played three games in four nights. Over the weekend, they picked up three out of four points in games against the Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils. The Sabres don’t play again until they host the New York Rangers on Thursday at 7 p.m.

TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE FOR THURSDAY AGAINST THE RANGERS

“You get a chance to recharge batteries. There’s a little break here,” captains Steve Ott said. “Guys, if they’re feeling something or if they’re a little banged up, they get a chance to heal up as well. We have to use it to our benefit and that’s kind of what the whole emphasis on the next few days.”

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan is going to use this time to drive home some of the things he’d like to see the team do more consistently. Since he took over behind the bench on Nov. 13, he’s had limited time to practice with the team because of a condensed schedule.

Having the team work on their skating, he said is good for not only the younger players, but older one who may need little reminders along the way when it comes to improving their fundamentals.

WATCH: MARCUS FOLIGNO INTERVIEW

“As I mentioned to the team today, we’re all creature of habit and we have to change a few things that we’ve been doing and just get used to doing it on a daily basis,” Nolan said. “I think the game against Toronto, we played really well and when we went to New Jersey, we slipped off a little again. Just trying to get that consistent work ethic every day and the only way you can do it is consistently work.”


Defenseman Alexander Sulzer was given a maintenance day and did not practice with the team.

Nolan said that center Cody McCormick, who has missed the past four games with an upper-body injury, is ready to return to the lineup. A roster move would have to be made once the team is ready to activate him from the injured reserve list.


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 / 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
32 John Scott – 65 Brian Flynn / 8 Cody McCormick – 82 Marcus Foligno

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 44 Brayden McNabb
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
6 Mike Weber – 3 Mark Pysyk
4 Jamie McBain

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Thursday, 11.28.2013 / 1:05 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

A day after being claimed off waivers, Matt D’Agostini was on the ice with his new club, the Buffalo Sabres, shaking hands and getting to know some of his new teammates.

D’Agostini had been waived by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday and had to wait until noon Wednesday to find out if he’d be on his way to the minors or another NHL city.

“[Pittsburgh] told me the news and then you have the most anxious 24 hours of your life,” D’Agostini said after Buffalo’s optional practice Thursday at First Niagara Center. “Again, that’s just the way it goes in this sport. Guys come and go so I’m excited about my opportunity.”

Buffalo is D’Agostini’s fourth NHL club in the past two years. St. Louis traded him to New Jersey last season – where he played with Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder – and he signed a one-year contract with the Penguins this summer.

WATCH: MATT D'AGOSTINI MEETS THE BUFFALO MEDIA

In 275 NHL games, he’s scored 96 points (47+49), including 21 goals with the Blues in 2010-11.

The 27-year-old forward is from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., which is also the hometown of Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan. Nolan said that he’s known about D’Agostini since he was a teenager playing junior hockey with the Guelph Storm. When president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine suggested the Sabres claim D’Agostini, Nolan was on board.

“I’ve known of him since he was about 15, 16 years old and I remember him going to another Ontario Hockey League team [and playing] against his hometown of Sault Ste. Marie. I was wondering why he got away,” Nolan said.

D’Agostini is looking forward to being in the lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday.

“Hopefully [I can] get back to my ways and my confident self again,” he said. “Confidence is everything in this league I think, so get some playing time under my belt and hopefully get back to my old game.”

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He’ll likely get a lot of ice time as Nolan said he’ll put D’Agostini on the wing with center Ville Leino and captain Steve Ott.

“When you get a goal scorer, you have to put him in a position to score some goals so hopefully that’ll help,” Nolan said.


To make room for D’Agostini on the roster, the Sabres waived right wing Corey Tropp. Thursday afternoon, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced that they had claimed Tropp.

The Sabres were hoping to send Tropp to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League where he could play a lot of minutes in all situations. Tropp has battled injuries the past two seasons and in nine games with Buffalo this season, he’d averaged 10:29 of ice time while on the fourth line.

WATCH: TED NOLAN'S PRESS CONFERENCE

“I don’t know if [Tropp being claimed is] disappointing. You’re happy for the young guy,” Nolan said. “Pittsburgh lost a guy to us. It’s unfortunate that we haven’t got enough positions or room for him right now. It’s good for him to be picked up by somebody else and get his career going there. Unfortunately it wasn’t happening here at that moment. You take a chance and it’s good for Corey.”


Center Cody McCormick skated with the team again. He’s been on injured reserve since he took what he calls a “stiff hit” on Nov. 21 against the Philadelphia Flyers. Nolan said that he may not be ready for this weekend’s pair of games. McCormick declared himself day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

“We’re still kind of seeing how it’s going to react tomorrow morning,” McCormick said. “If the game was tonight, I don’t think it would work but another day might do it some help.”

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.26.2013 / 2:09 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Buffalo Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan has been on the job for almost two weeks now and continues to work on getting players settled in on his systems and the types of things he expects from them.

In addition to even-strength play, the power play is an aspect of the game the team looks to continue to improve on. The Sabres are 3-for-15 with 25 shots on goal with the man-advantage in the five games since Nolan was put in charge.

The team spent time working on the power play Tuesday morning at First Niagara Center in preparation for their home game against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

The first unit featured Matt Moulson, Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis up front with Tyler Myers and Christian Ehrhoff at the points. Ville Leino, Steve Ott, Drew Stafford, Brayden McNabb and Mark Pysyk made up the second unit, with Luke Adam rotating in and out.

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Nolan said that in order to be successful, the units need to keep making simple plays and generate more traffic in the areas around the crease.

“We’re not setting the League on fire so we have to make sure we simplify our game and that’s in all aspects of it, whether it’s 5-on-5 or power play,” he said. “We just have to make sure we do the simple things, get shots on net, create some rebounds. A majority of the goaltenders in this league will stop you even if you have a point-blank shot from the slot. We have to create some traffic in front of it.”

WATCH: LUKE ADAM INTERVIEW

The team spent time working on maintaining possession in the offensive third with the man advantage and reading the types of defensive coverage they’re facing.

“You just have to take what they give you. Every team is pretty much the same,” Leino said. “They pressure when they don’t have possession, they’re trying to block shots and so on.”


Nolan has talked about how the trust level on the ice may not be very high at the moment, but he said Tuesday that he’s seen progress in that regard the past few days.

“I see it growing, not on leaps and bounds, but I see it growing every day. The guys are getting a little bit more comfortable in what’s expected and using their ability, which they have, he said. “Ville Leino’s, I think, a really highly skilled player but he was playing a little bit differently than what his skill set is. So we’ve got to get him back to that. I think it all has to do with comfort zone.”

WATCH: TED NOLAN'S PRESS CONFERENCE

One of the first changes Nolan made to the lineup when he took over behind the bench on Nov. 13 was moving Leino back to center ice.

“It’s been pretty good. It’s a lot more work in the defensive zone so you don’t really get to rest at all but it’s been better,” Leino said. “I think last game for me was pretty good even though there was not a lot of goals or so, but it’s been better and I feel more comfortable.”

WATCH: VILLE LEINO INTERVIEW

In trying to foster an atmosphere in which players can thrive out of familiarity, the Sabres once again practiced with no changes to the line combinations or defensive pairings. Left wing Matt Moulson has skated almost exclusively with center Hodgson since the team acquired him from the New York Islanders on Oct. 27. Stafford has been their linemate as of late.

“The more you play with guys, the more you feel comfortable out there,” Moulson said. “I know it’s definitely the case with myself, I think. The more you get to know guys, their tendencies, it makes reading and reacting a lot easier out there.”


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
32 John Scott

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 52 Alexander Sulzer
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
44 Brayden McNabb – 3 Mark Pysyk
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Monday, 11.25.2013 / 2:54 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

The Buffalo Sabres spent a bulk of their practice Monday morning at First Niagara Center focusing on improving their defensive zone coverage.

One point of emphasis for interim coach Ted Nolan is having the players talk to each other more frequently on the ice, especially when they're defending in their own end. Some of his veteran players are picking up on the message and stressed why communication on the ice is a key component to being successful.

“It starts with communication, making sure everyone’s on the same page, that you know what the other guy’s doing,” Sabres forward Drew Stafford said. “If you are trying to guess what your teammates are doing out there, you’re thinking too much. We’re just trying to take the thought process out of it and just make sure it becomes natural.”

Nolan has noticed that he’s working with a quieter bunch and is making an effort to change that.

“We’ve talked about communication, talking down low. We’re a very quiet team. We don’t talk enough,” he said. “I’ve always said good communication eliminates duplication, so you’re not doing someone else’s job. We worked on that so hopefully we’ll get better as we go.”

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Defenseman Mike Weber is usually one of the most vocal players on the ice and would like to see that trait be more prevalent among his teammates.

“I think it’s just coming down to communication,” he said. “Any guy you’re going to talk to in here today or any day from this day forward should just be about talking.”

The Sabres spent about half of the practice on one end of the ice, working on defensive zone assignments. Nolan wants the players to be able to know where to go without thinking about it. The team has been battling breakdowns in their own end all season and it’s cost them points in several games.

“There are glimpses of playing well and then we collapse. We just have to learn to do it on a consistent basis and having faith in one another. Right now I don’t think we have too much faith in one another and we need to work on that.


The Sabres kept the same lines and pairings in practice as they skated with Sunday evening against Detroit. Nolan said that he would like to keep the forwards together so that they can begin to create some chemistry.

He also said that it’s important for the coaching staff to maintain a sense of continuity when it comes to how the team practices and what they work on each day.

WATCH: TED NOLAN'S PRESS CONFERENCE

“When we ask the players to be consistent, we have to consistent with our message and our delivery. We can’t work on defensive zone coverage one day and forget about it the next two weeks,” he said. “We have to do it on a consistent basis and it’s the same thing with the lines. We have to keep them somewhat consistent so you can learn what each and every one does on a line.”

Brian Flynn centered the fourth line Sunday evening. Nolan was pleased with Flynn’s play their on Sunday and said he would like to keep him there for the time being.

“He has to be a little bit stronger, but we all have to be a little bit stronger. I really like his hockey sense,” Nolan said. “He jumps in, he’s got a very quiet demeanor, he doesn’t say too much. But he always listens and he pays attention and he always does what we ask him to do.”

Flynn skated 11:58 and recorded two shots on goal against Detroit.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Flynn said. I need to improve a little bit on face offs, I think, and work a little more on the D-zone coverage, but I think it’s something that I feel comfortable with and I think I continue to improve and get better. I can see myself playing this position.”


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
32 John Scott

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 52 Alexander Sulzer
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
44 Brayden McNabb – 3 Mark Pysyk
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Saturday, 11.23.2013 / 2:23 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan is looking for a calming influence on his blue line. After attending the Rochester Americans home game Friday night with president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine, the decision to call up defenseman Alexander Sulzer was made.

He’ll be in the lineup Sunday evening when Buffalo hosts the Detroit Red Wings at 5 p.m. at First Niagara Center.

Sulzer re-joins the Sabres for his second call-up of the season. He last played on Oct. 12 in Chicago, where he logged 19:20 of ice time. With the Amerks this season, Sulzer has appeared in 10 games and has recorded two goals and five assists.

“One of the reasons we went down is we wanted to see him play,” Nolan said after practice at Bud Bakewell Arena at Riverside Park on Saturday. “He’s a veteran guy and we’ve got a lot of young talent here. We need to make sure they mature at the right pace. This guy’s a veteran guy that’s been around for a while and he can have some stability back there for us.”

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Sulzer skated with the team Saturday morning and was paired with Christian Ehrhoff. The two have played a lot of hockey together since the Sabres acquired Suzler from Vancouver at the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline. They were a pair last season before a knee injury ended Suzler’s season 17 games in.

“We had pretty good chemistry last year when we played together and I hope we can continue that,” Sulzer said.

Sulzer, 29, is a veteran of 107 NHL games and hopes to provide some stability to the defense. He and Nolan had a good chat about that on the ice after practice.

“I’m an older guy even if I don’t want to admit it. I am now and he just wants me to be as calm as I usually play and just try to be solid,” Sulzer said. “It’s just when it gets scrambly a little bit that not everybody starts running around, that we just play in the zone like Teddy wants us to play and just don’t freak out if one mistake happens. If one happens, everybody else makes up for it and then we’re going to be fine.”


It looks like rookie Mark Pysyk will be back in the lineup as well. He skated with Brayden McNabb during practice and the duo worked together on the team’s second power-play unit. There is some familiarity between the two as they were paired together in Rochester last year.

Pysyk was a healthy scratch on Thursday in Philadelphia and said he was able to see what adjustments he needs to make in his game by watching the action from up in the press box.

“For myself, I need to be a little more patient in the defensive zone and a lot more assertive, stronger on the puck,” he said.


Cody McCormick was absent from practice after missing the third period on Thursday with what the team called an upper-body injury. Nolan said after practice Saturday that McCormick will be out at least a week.

WATCH: TED NOLAN'S PRESS CONFERENCE

With McCormick injured, the fourth line had a different look. Brian Flynn skated at center with Marcus Foligno on the left wing and Corey Tropp on the right. Nolan said he’s going to give Flynn an opportunity to play down the middle against Detroit.

“One thing you notice about him is that he’s a very intelligent player. He said he played eight games at center ice last year [with Rochester],” Nolan said. “With the fourth line position, we have to make sure we have reliable guys there to eat up some good minutes and give our top guys some rest. He seems like a very reliable young man.”


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
32 John Scott

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 52 Alexander Sulzer
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
44 Brayden McNabb – 3 Mark Pysyk
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

Power Play 1
Moulson – Hodgson – Ennis
Myers – Ehrhoff

Power Play 2
Stafford – Ott – Leino
Pysyk – McNabb

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