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POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.25.2014 / 1:27 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

MONTREAL – The Buffalo Sabres will get one of their workhorses back on the blue line Tuesday night.

Tyler Myers has missed the past five games with arm injury but will be in the lineup against the Montreal Canadiens when the puck drops at 7:30 p.m. at Bell Centre.

The injury, which turned out to be a laceration on his elbow, kept him off the ice until just a few days ago. However, interim coach Ted Nolan won’t tighten up on the reins when it comes to limiting Myers’ ice time in his first game back.

“Stallions, just let them run. You’re not going to hold him back,” Nolan said after the team’s morning skate. “He’s a big man. He can skate. He reads the ice pretty well. So we’ll probably give him the first couple shifts short and then after that, let him go.”

Myers, at 6-foot-8 and 219 pounds, is big both in his stature and in the role he plays on the team. He averages 21:56 a game, second only to defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. Myers met the team in Montreal on Monday. He said he feels good and is ready to play again.

“Even though it was a little time off, I feel like I got it back pretty quick,” Myers said. “Whatever they have in store for me, I’ll just keep focusing on what I have to do and my role on the team.”

Myers said he had to wait for the infection to be completely healed so it wouldn’t flare up when he tried to skate. He was able to take the ice with some members of the coaching and training staff back in Buffalo.

With Myers back, the Sabres assigned rookie Rasmus Ristolainen to Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League. Ristolainen had been up on an emergency recall.


Zenon Konopka will not play Tuesday night. He tweaked his back on the flight from Vancouver to Montreal on Monday, according to Nolan. He didn't particpate in the skate.

He’ll be replaced by Ville Leino in the lineup. Leino has been a healthy scratch the past two games.


While the Sabres are getting healthier on defense, the same can’t be said for their goaltending corps.

Michal Neuvirth has not played since March 13 when he made 51 saves in a 4-2 loss to Carolina. He said he woke up sore the next morning and while he served as the backup in the team’s next game, the Sabres recalled Nathan Lieuwen on an emergency recall.

Neuvirth has been traveling with the team on their current five-game road trip but that may not be the case moving forward. He did not skate on Tuesday.

When asked after the morning skate about Neuvirth’s status, Nolan didn’t sound too optimistic.

“Not too good. I think we may even send him back to Buffalo to get re-evaluated,” he said. “He’s not progressing as well as we thought.”

The Sabres are also without Jhonas Enroth, who sustained a lower-body injury on March 16.

Matt Hackett will start for the Sabres against Montreal. It will be his second regular-season game in a Buffalo uniform. He made 35 saves in a 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.


The Sabres have gone 11-5-1 in their last 17 games against the Canadiens, but need a win Tuesday night to avoid losing five-straight games to Montreal for just the second time in franchise history. The first took place from Dec. 2, 1978 to Dec. 29, 1979.

Despite this streak, the Canadiens are looking for consecutive home wins against the Sabres for the first time since April 3 and Nov. 27, 2010.

The Sabres have 119 wins in 261 games against the Canadiens, tying their franchise-record win total against the Bruins, whom they have played 272 times.


PROJECTED LINEUP

82 Marcus Foligno – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
88 Cory Conacher – 19 Cody Hodgson – 17 Torrey Mitchell
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 65 Brian Flynn – 27 Matt D’Agostini
32 John Scott – 37 Matt Ellis – 23 Ville Leino

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

31 Matt Hackett
50 Nathan Lieuwen

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POSTED ON Monday, 03.17.2014 / 3:36 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Most members of the Buffalo Sabres will board a plane on Monday as the team departs for a five-game, 11-day road trip. Some injured players will be staying behind and there’s a chance at least one of those injured players could meet the team on the road.

Jhonas Enroth, who sustained a lower-body injury Sunday night against the Canadiens, will not go on the trip. Forwards Zemgus Girgensons (undisclosed), Chris Stewart (lower-body injury) and defenseman Alexander Sulzer (upper-body injury) aren’t going either.

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said that defenseman Tyler Myers, who sustained an upper-body injury Thursday night, will not be with the team right away either.

“Tyler’s going to stay back. He’ll have better treatment here and better care here but he could join us on the road trip at some point also,” Nolan said.

Sabres goaltenders have had some bad luck recently when it comes to injuries. Michal Neuvirth is day-to-day with a lower-body injury that forced him to miss the game on Sunday against Montreal. So when Enroth went down late in the second period, emergency recall Nathan Lieuwen was called up to go in and make his NHL debut.

WATCH: NATHAN LIEUWEN INTERVIEW

While Enroth will not make the 7,000-plus-mile trip that sees the Sabres heading to (in order) Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Montreal and Nashville, he may not miss as much time as the team initially thought.

“It looks a little bit better but we’ll see. He’s going to get further evaluation,” Nolan said. “He’s going to stay behind but right now it looks a little bit better today than it did yesterday.”

Neuvirth said he may be ready to play if the team needs him Tuesday night. He skated on his own Monday morning but his status would depend on how he feels Tuesday morning.

Nolan didn’t rule out the possibility of traveling with a third goaltender (possibly Matt Hackett of the American Hockey League’s Rochester Americans), but if Neuvirth is unable to play, Lieuwen would be looking at making his first start in the NHL.

UPDATE: HACKETT RECALLED ON EMERGECNY BASIS

“For me, it’s just do my thing and whatever happens, happens,” Lieuwen said. “If I end up in the net again, I’ll play my best and I’ll do what I can and do what I can to earn more.”

Lieuwen, 22, is 6-foot-5, 186 pounds and had played three nights in a row. He started for Rochester on Friday and Saturday before being called upon on Sunday. He stopped 31 shots on Friday, 38 on Saturday and all 10 he faced on Sunday.

“Usually after three-in-three you’re a little more tired and sore, but I actually feel really good,” he said. “I feel like I have energy and I feel like the adrenaline’s starting to kind of ease off a little bit. I can get comfortable and do my thing.”

The Sabres have been battling so many injuries as of late that it may actually be easier to list the players that are healthy. One player that will look to make his return to the lineup is forward Torrey Mitchell.

“The last couple weeks with all the trades and injuries, it’s been a whirlwind for sure,” Mitchell said. “But these are opportunities for everyone to step up. There’s 14 games left and everyone’s trying to make an impression for next season. We’ve got to stick together. We’re going to be playing some good teams and try to play spoiler.”

Mitchell, whom the Sabres acquired at the NHL Trade Deadline on March 5 from the Minnesota Wild, has been out with a lower-body injury since blocking a shot against the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 6. He’ll be on the road with the team and expects to be ready by the team’s first game on Tuesday against the Calgary Flames.

WATCH: TORREY MITCHELL INTERVIEW

“He adds a fresh body. He has some moxie to his game, he has some speed to his game,” Nolan said. “He has some maturity. He’s played a lot of playoff games in this League so certainly he can add some experience to a very young team.”

The Sabres and Flames are set to faceoff at 9 p.m. EST from Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both teams held optional skates Thursday morning at PNC Arena.

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

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

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

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


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

How did he think they responded?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


PROJECTED LINEUP

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

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

34 Michal Neuvirth
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 03.12.2014 / 3:22 PM ET
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.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


PROJECTED LINEUP

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

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

1 Jhonas Enroth
34 Michal Neuvirth

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POSTED ON Monday, 03.10.2014 / 3:26 PM ET
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

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POSTED ON Sunday, 03.9.2014 / 1:45 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jhonas Enroth is expected to start in goal for Buffalo.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

It’s another step forward in his rehab.

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


PROJECTED LINEUP

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

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

1 Jhonas Enroth
34 Michal Neuvirth

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POSTED ON Thursday, 03.6.2014 / 3:29 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE
TAMPA – Torrey Mitchell and Michal Neuvirth, two of the newest members of the Buffalo Sabres organization, had the chance to meet their new teammates after the team’s morning skate at Tampa Bay Times Forum on Thursday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

1 Jhonas Enroth
34 Michal Neuvirth

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.4.2014 / 1:32 PM ET
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.

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