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POSTED ON Monday, 03.31.2014 / 4:43 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

The players in the Buffalo Sabres dressing room were happy to hear that coach Ted Nolan had signed a contract extension and that the interim label had been removed from his title.

Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford are two players that have played well since Nolan took over. They combined for four goals and seven assists in the 20 games prior to Nolan’s arrival but have been Buffalo’s most consistent offensive weapons, especially since the start of the new calendar year.

During an 11-game stretch from March 3 to March 23, they combined for 15 points (10+5).

“I obviously feel like I’ve flourished playing under him,” Stafford said after practice at First Niagara Center. “I love playing under him and he’s a guy that I think is perfect for this type of rebuild.

"He understands what guys are going through and the right buttons to push, whether or not to be hard or soft on certain guys. There’s not a lot of complicated things that he brings up. It’s very, very straightforward, very simple. He wants you to compete and show up and not take this for granted, any opportunity that you’re up here."

Ennis started the season on the wing but has developed into the team’s top center under Nolan’s watch. Nolan has helped him get back on his game.

“I think he’s just brought back a little bit more competitiveness and a little bit more confidence that I had in the past years,” he said. “I kind of was slumping there a little bit before he came in and he’s helped me out a lot.”

Ennis currently leads the team in goals and points. He has 19 goals – just on the cusp of his second-career 20-goal season – and 38 points.

“He gave me confidence and told me, ‘Don’t be a robot out there. Go out and play your game. You’re creative but play hard,’” Ennis said. “It’s kind of my game right there is to be offensive and creative but at the same time kind of play with a little edge. He’s kind of let me do that. ”

Nolan has tried to instill a message that everything on the ice must be earned and that includes not only goals and wins, but ice time as well.

Ville Leino was pulled from the team’s game in Nashville on Thursday after feeling light-headed during his first shift. He underwent further testing and did not play Saturday night at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

He was back on the ice for practice on Monday and said afterward that he was diagnosed with a type of migraine.

“Your eyes have a delay so it took me a couple of days. I couldn’t really focus much,” Leino said. “Your eyes are delayed, so you talk to someone and you don’t realize you’re talking to him because your eyes fall away. It’s a weird feeling but I’m feeling better now.”

Leino said he didn’t feel well before the game, but when it didn’t pass during his first shift, he was taken into the dressing room for testing.

“I knew it just a couple minutes before the game but sometimes you have feeling like that and they just go away. But this time, they stuck through during the game and it’s a little worrying,” he said. “I wanted to go back to try one more shift but the trainers said not to go because you’re going delayed. So if somebody hits you, you might not even feel it. Something bad might happen so it was better to stay out.”

Leino said he doesn’t anticipate any further issues and that he should be ready to play Tuesday night when the Sabres host the New Jersey Devils at 7 p.m.

Goaltenders Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth, defensemen Tyler Myers and Alexander Sulzer and forwards Chris Stewart, Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell all did not practice as they are recovering from various injuries.

Rookie forward Nicolas Deslauriers did not practice for unspecified reasons.

88 Cory Conacher – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
19 Cody Hodgson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 65 Brian Flynn
82 Marcus Foligno – 22 Johan Larsson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
32 John Scott – 37 Matt Ellis – 23 Ville Leino

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain
20 Henrik Tallinder – 5 Chad Ruhwedel

31 Matt Hackett
50 Nathan Lieuwen

POSTED ON Saturday, 03.29.2014 / 12:41 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

The Buffalo Sabres should get a big boost to their lineup Saturday night with Zemgus Girgensons set to return from injury.

The rookie forward has missed the past 11 games. He is expected to center a line with Cody Hodgson on the left wing and Brian Flynn on the right against the Tampa Bay Lighting at 7 p.m. at First Niagara Center.

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan is really looking forward to having Girgensons back on the ice.

“Zemgus, he’s a life changer. Even his demeanor on the ice, it just lifts up the whole team. Those are the special people, special players do for your team. Especially being so young, he’s only 20 years old so he adds that much already. So we’re looking forward to him.”

Girgensons hopes he’ll be able to shake any potential rust off right away and create some offensive opportunities.

“There’s been a lot of mix and matches with the lines. I think it’s good for the guys to see all the guys. It’s a good experience to play all the positions and stuff,” he said. “It’s just playing the game I play and helping them to create some offense for Cody and do the stuff I do.”

Moving Hodgson to the wing is part of an evaluation process that is being overseen by the Sabres front office, including general manager Tim Murray.

“Tim and I had some really good discussions on going forward with the team and some of the pieces that we have,” Nolan said. “Cody’s certainly one of those pieces and we want to see where he best fits with the team going forward. Maybe he’s a better wing. But then you also have to play him with the right people to get him the puck.

“Because once Cody has the puck, within a certain footage of that net, he has a good chance of putting it in. He’s not known for his great defense and we don’t want him to play great defense. We want him to score offensively but you have to be reliable defensively. One thing with the wing position, it’s not as complicated as playing center is.”

Nolan foresees Hodgson and Girgensons becoming a pretty formidable duo down the road. Hodgson is looking forward to playing on a line with both him and Flynn.

“There’s lots of room to improve everywhere. I’m still learning wing and learning center as well,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of speed playing with those two guys so let’s hope I can keep up.”

Matt Hackett is expected to start in goal for Buffalo. It will be his fourth start for the Sabres since he was called up on an emergency basis on March 17.

Ville Leino will miss the game after feeling lightheaded in the first period against the Nashville Predators on Thursday. He skated only two shifts in that game and has undergone more testing back in Buffalo.

“He got evaluated. He came to practice today. He was doing OK and then just before he went on the ice, he didn’t feel very well again,” Nolan said. “He’s going to get back to the doctors and see what exactly what’s going on. But he’s still not ready to go.”

Nolan said that it’s possible that they could shut Leino down for the rest of the season as a precautionary measure.

“When you talk about the head, it’s not like an elbow or a knee or something, but your head. So we’re going to be very, very cautious on this one,” he said.

He joins a list of injured players that includes Tyler Myers, Zenon Konopka, Torrey Mitchell, Chris Stewart, Jhonas Enroth, Michal Neuvirth and Alexander Sulzer.

The team will honor former goaltender Dominik Hasek before the game by inducting him into the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame. Hasek will become to 42 nd member of the Sabres Hall of Fame.

“The Dominator” appeared in 491 games for Buffalo from 1992-2001.

During his time with the Sabres, he won the Hart Trophy as the League’s Most Valuable Player twice (1997 and 1998) and the Vezina Trophy as the League’s most outstanding goaltender six time (1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2001).

He also was awarded the William M. Jennings Trophy as a part of a goaltending tandem that allowed the fewest goals in a season by playing at least 25 games (1993-94 with Grant Fuhr and in 2001) and the Lester B. Pearson Award (now the Ted Lindsay Award) as the players’ choice for Most Valuable Player twice (1997 and 1998).

Hasek holds the five best single-season save percentage totals from the 1990s. In that decade, no other goaltender’s best season was as good as Hasek’s fifth-best in terms of save percentage.

His No. 39 will be raised to the rafters of First Niagara Center sometime next season.

Fans attending the game should be in their seats by 6:50 p.m. The ceremony will also be carried live on the Tops Sabres Game Night pregame show, which begins at 6:30 p.m. on MSG.

Nolan once again addressed his contract situation and the negotiations that have been ongoing.

“Like I said last week, Tim and I are real close on getting something done,” he said. “As I’ve mentioned all along, I’m very excited about the possibility of staying here and now it’s coming to a point where it’s really close. And I’m going to be really excited when we get it officially done.”


88 Cory Conacher – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
19 Cody Hodgson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 65 Brian Flynn
82 Marcus Foligno – 22 Johan Larsson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
32 John Scott – 37 Matt Ellis – 44 Nicolas Deslauriers

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain
20 Henrik Tallinder – 5 Chad Ruhwedel

31 Matt Hackett
50 Nathan Lieuwen

POSTED ON Thursday, 03.27.2014 / 2:51 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

NASHVILLE – Rasmus Ristolainen is racking up some extensive frequent flyer miles.

The 19-year-old rookie defenseman was called up on an emergency basis on March 15 and was returned to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League on Monday.

Now, with Tyler Myers out again due to injury, Ristolainen was back on a plane this morning so he can play Thursday night when the Buffalo Sabres take on the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

“It’s been a long day. I woke up early, the plane boarded at 6 a.m., but it’s fun. I’m ready to play tonight,” Ristolainen said after the team’s optional morning skate. “I’m exciting. I don’t have very many NHL games yet and it’s really nice to play here with good guys and battle hard. ”

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said that Myers is day-to-day and hopes to have him back for the team’s game Saturday night at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Myers was tripped in the offensive zone in the third period on Tuesday in Montreal and slid hard into the goal post, knocking the net off its moorings. He took only three shifts after that play.

Torrey Mitchell will also miss the game due to injury. Rookie forward Johan Larsson was recalled to take his spot in the lineup. Matt Hackett will start in goal. Zenon Konopka will miss his second-straight game with a back injury.

Nolan said Mitchell’s injury could keep him out of the lineup a little longer than Myers’.

Marcus Foligno was back on the ice for the team’s optional skate after taking a maintenance day on Wednesday. He blocked a Brendan Gallagher slap shot from the point on Tuesday.

“It feels good,” Foligno said. “It was just a little bit of bone bruise there and obviously taking a pretty hard shot in the kneepad just felt tough to kind of put pressure on it yesterday, therapy and back at it today, I felt better.”

The Sabres are wrapping up an 11-day, five-game road trip that saw them play in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Montreal. Being the visiting team against Nashville might play into the team’s favor on Thursday.

The road team has won the last five games between the Sabres and the Predators. The home team hasn’t won since the Sabres won 8-4, on Feb. 27, 2008. The home team has only won three of the 16 games in the all-time series.

The Sabres haven’t lost a road game to the Predators since Nov. 29, 2003, having won their last three games in Nashville.

Buffalo has had to deal with both injuries and costly penalties the past few games. The Sabres will look to stay out of the box, especially with key penalty killers like Myers and Mitchell out of the lineup.

“We’re a beat-up team again, new faces again in this locker room. We need a simple road game here, get our confidence going,” defenseman Mike Weber said. “A gritty road win would be awesome. That’s what we need to focus in on here and head back home.”


82 Marcus Foligno – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
88 Cory Conacher – 19 Cody Hodgson – 23 Ville Leino
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 65 Brian Flynn – 27 Matt D’Agostini
32 John Scott – 22 Johan Larsson – 37 Matt Ellis

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain
20 Henrik Tallinder – 5 Chad Ruhwedel

31 Matt Hackett
50 Nathan Lieuwen

POSTED ON Wednesday, 03.26.2014 / 5:37 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

NASHVILLE – It seems as if every day, Buffalo Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan has to provide an update on another player that has sustained an injury.

Tyler Myers, Marcus Foligno, Torrey Mitchell and Zenon Konopka missed practice Wednesday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena. Myers, Foligno and Mitchell got hurt in Buffalo’s game against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

Myers was tripped going in on goal midway through the third period and slid into the goal post. He took only three shifts after that.

Foligno blocked a shot by Brendan Gallagher while on the penalty kill in the second period and made his way to the bench after that. He ended up finishing the game with 16:19 of ice time.

Mitchell played virtually the entire game, his last shift ending with 1:01 remaining in regulation. He logged 15:42 of ice time, including 5:42 on the penalty kill.

Nolan said that Tuesday was more of a maintenance day for both Myers and Foligno. He expects Foligno to be ready to play against the Nashville Predators on Thursday.


The team will examine Myers and Mitchell and decide later in the evening whether or not they’ll be able to play. Mitchell’s injury might be “a little more serious” than the others, according to Nolan.

Konopka missed the game in Montreal due to a back injury. Nolan said it doesn’t look like he’ll be ready Thursday night.

There’s a chance players will have to be called up from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League to fill the holes in the lineup. The Amerks – on the second half of a back-to-back – host the Milwaukee Admirals on Wednesday.

“Almost every game somebody goes down. It’s one of those things, when things go bad, I guess they go bad,” Nolan said. “Now it gives a chance for some more kids from Rochester who’ve been playing well, maybe have a chance to play here the last six, seven games.”

Michal Neuvirth, who has not skated with the team the past few days, went back to Buffalo for further evaluations on his lower-body injury. He made his last appearance in net on March 13.

Jhonas Enroth did not travel with the team for their five-game road trip due to a lower-body injury he sustained on March 16. Nolan said he’s also being re-evaluated and that there’s a chance he could return before the season ends on April 13.

With both goaltenders on the shelf, Matt Hackett and Nathan Lieuwen have rotated starts the past four games. However, Nolan said Tuesday that he plans to stop the rotation and stick with Hackett.

Hackett picked up his first win with the Sabres on Thursday in Edmonton, where he made 35 saves. On Monday, he stopped 33 shots in a 2-0 loss in Montreal.

“Hackett definitely earned it. That’s one thing about now, it’s audition time. You audition and you do a couple good auditions, you should get another one,” Nolan said.

Before practice on Tuesday, Hackett sat on the bench with goaltending coach Jim Corsi as the two went over some video. Corsi and the defense then did some drills with Hackett toward the end of practice.

With the team’s busy travel schedule lately, there hasn’t been much time for on-ice work and Hackett said he’s glad they got the chance to go over some things in Nashville.

"It’s nice to get out there and can actually feel the puck, kind of work on a few things with him,” he said. “He wants me to keep my hands forward. They’ve been creeping back a bit in my stance so that’s one thing we’ve tried to focus on a bit. Just being sticky, like he says. Try and make saves look easy and keep them in my chest.”

Hackett said he felt calmer in his second start than he did in Edmonton.

“I felt maybe a little more relaxed, with the puck handling, especially,” he said. “I had a few good touches out there, maybe a couple mishandles, but I felt more comfortable going back there and I thought I was just seeing the puck pretty well.”

Hackett’s performance against the Canadiens is the one that made Nolan lean toward starting him against the Predators.

“He played well the last two games, particularly last game in Montreal,” Nolan said. “I thought he was the difference maker. It could’ve been a lot worse, but he kept us in the game.””

Nolan was asked if the players realize they’re being evaluated every day to see if they fit into the team’s plans moving forward.

“I had a great conversation with [Sabres broadcasters and alumni] Brad May and Rob Ray on the airplane last night,” Nolan said. “They played as they had because they’re very competitive people and the one thing they both said to me was, ‘Do these guys realize that they’re auditioning? Do they realize some of them, their contracts are up? Do they realize?’ So I’m hoping they do.”

POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.25.2014 / 1:27 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@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.


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

POSTED ON Monday, 03.17.2014 / 3:36 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@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.


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.


“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.


“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.

POSTED ON Saturday, 03.15.2014 / 2:17 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@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.

POSTED ON Thursday, 03.13.2014 / 2:08 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@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.”


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

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

34 Michal Neuvirth
1 Jhonas Enroth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.11.2014 / 2:11 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@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.


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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