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POSTED ON Saturday, 10.19.2013 / 12:40 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

There could likely be lineup changes coming for the Buffalo Sabres and Nikita Zadorov could make his NHL debut against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.

Forward Kevin Porter and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen took in extra work after practice at First Niagara Center with suspended forward Patrick Kaleta, so they will likely be the healthy scratches.

Sabres coach Ron Rolston said that forward Cody McCormick, who is day-to-day with a lower body injury, will not be able to play, so it looks like the Sabres will dress seven defensemen against Colorado.

Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Zadorov, currently on the injured non-roster list, has been recovering from a lacerated finger he sustained in the preseason, but has been a full participant in practice the last few days. He’s skated alongside Jamie McBain in those sessions.

Rolston said on Friday that he would like to get Zadorv, who was drafted by the Sabres 16th overall in June, into a game soon. Saturday morning, Rolston declared the 18-year-old defenseman healthy enough to play.

“How close [is Zadorov] to playing? He’s ready to go at any time,” Rolston told reporters. “Could be tonight.”

If Zadorov dresses, a roster move would have to be made before the game. Rolston said they would not put McCormick on injured reserve to free up a spot on the 23-man roster.

When asked after practice if McBain was going to take Ristolainen’s place in the lineup, Rolston gave a guarded response.

“I don’t know. We’ll see. We’ll see how tonight goes,” he said. “It’s a surprise.”

Zemgus Girgensons, who caught a puck above his left eye on Tuesday, will be back in the lineup for Buffalo.

“I didn’t really want to miss anything because I don’t think it was that big of a deal,” he said. “It was just some stitches and the only problem was my eye was shut. I couldn’t see. So besides that, there were no problems. It was just about the body recovering. Nothing else.”

Ryan Miller was the first goaltender off the ice during the optional morning skate and is likely to start in goal.

Sabres rookie center Mikhail Grigorenko will see a familiar face behind the opposing bench. First-year Avalanche coach Patrick Roy was Grigorenko’s coach with the Quebec City Remparts of the Ontario Hockey League for two seasons from 2011 to 2013.

Grigorenko said he is looking forward to playing against his old coach from juniors.

“He meant a lot to me. He’s the guy who taught me the most things about hockey and I was really lucky to play in North America with him [as] my coach,” Grigorenko said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to show him what he taught me and hopefully score a goal.”

POSTED ON Friday, 10.18.2013 / 3:45 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

After an hour-long practice at First Niagara Center, the Sabres huddled up at center ice. It looked like practice was about to wrap up, but then rookie defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen stood up, skated to the middle of the circle and started dancing.

When he went to back to take a knee, rookie center Johan Larsson skated in and took a turn, receiving stick taps from his teammates.

Rookies Zemgus Girgensons, Mark Pysyk, Nikita Zadorov, Brian Flynn and Mikhail Grigorenko also joined the dance party, showing off their moves in a pseudo rite of passage.

“Sometimes you just have to add something that loosens things up,” goaltender Ryan Miller said after practice. “Everybody can recognize it’s a little tense here, so it’s a fun chance to embarrass the rookies. At any turn, we’re going to take advantage of that. You only get one crack at them when they’re rookies, so you’ve gotta do it.”


The Sabres are 1-7-1 this season and coming off a 3-0 shutout loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. Co-captain Steve Ott said that having moments like that after practice are important, especially for the younger players.

“The ups and downs are what you try to get out of your game. Obviously around here anytime you’re losing or not having success, it’s hard times,” he said. “You need things to kind of pick your spirits up and we have so many young guys in this dressing room that we try to continue to keep the mood light.”

So which rookie had the best dance routine? Tyler Ennis’ vote went to Girgensons.

“He was a doing a little Miley Cyrus it looked like on skates,” Ennis said. “So that might be the first time that’s ever been done.”


During practice, the Sabres focused on breakouts and moving the puck up the ice quickly. Keeping the puck out of their defensive zone will be a challenge against the next opponent, the Colorado Avalanche. Buffalo hosts Colorado on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Avalanche are tied for sixth in the League with 23 goals for.


“It’s early in the season, but the changes have to be made and we made a little tweak on the neutral zone [entries] today,” Ennis said. “That’s hopefully going to get us a little bit more speed through the neutral zone.”

Cody McCormick did not skate and Sabres coach Ron Rolston said he was day-to-day. McCormick blocked a Jason Garrison slap shot during the game against the Canucks and was still feeling the effects of it.

Girgensons was a full-participant in practice after missing the game on Thursday. A puck deflected up and hit him near his left eye on Tuesday and stitches were required to repair the wound.

Swelling on the eye had come noticeably down by the time of practice on Friday. Rolston said Girgensons should be ready to go against the Avalanche.


Zadorov practiced with the team as he recovers from a lacerated finger he sustained in the preseason. Rolston said they would like to use the 18-year-old Russian defenseman in a game before making the decision to send him back to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League or not.

As for when that first NHL game might come for Zadorov, Rolston said “anytime is possible for him.”

On injured forwards Joel Armia (broken hand), Corey Tropp (broken jaw) and Ville Leino (cracked rib), Rolston said they’re all at least two weeks away from being close to game action.

POSTED ON Thursday, 10.17.2013 / 2:00 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

It’s been awhile, but the Vancouver Canucks are finally back in Buffalo.

The Buffalo Sabres will host the Canucks at First Niagara Center for the first time since Nov. 15, 2010. Buffalo won that game 4-3 thanks to a goal by Tyler Myers in overtime.

Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff said he’s looking forward to facing his old team even though there are many new faces on the other side, including Canucks coach John Tortorella. Ehrhoff played two seasons in Vancouver before signing with the Sabres in the summer of 2011.

“It’s going to be fun to see the guys, but they have a new coaching staff, so it’s going to be a totally different look playing against them and I’m anxious to get out there tonight,” he said.

The Sabres won the last meeting between the two clubs by a score of 5-3 on March 3, 2012 in Vancouver. The Canucks haven’t won in Buffalo since Feb. 7, 2003.

Cody Hodgson, another former Canuck, did not partake in the morning skate, but will play Thursday. A lower-body injury has caused him to take a few maintenance days in lieu of practicing with the team. Hodgson hasn’t missed any game action.

“He’s actually real close [to 100 percent]. We’re actually probably in the last week of it right now,” Rolston said. “He’s playing through some things, but he’ll be in the lineup tonight.”

The coaching staff moved Marcus Foligno to center on Tuesday and he’ll remain there for the time being. His line with wings Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford produced two goals against the Islanders. He’ll likely see work against Henrik Sedin on Thursday.

“We have faith that Marcus can handle those situations,” Rolston said. “Again, it offers us a big centerman that can handle some of the bigger guys in the League, whether it’s the Sedins or [John] Tavares the other night. You’ve got big guys like [Eric] Staal, where you need that big body in there, a big centerman. But we have confidence in him.”

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

Nikita Zadorov also skated with the team, but remains on the injured non-roster list. Rolston said that Zadorov is still working his way back from a finger injury sustained in the preseason and a decision will not have to be made on whether or not to send him back to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League until the team is healthier.

Patrick Kaleta will miss his fourth-straight game due to a 10-game suspension. The NHL suspended him for a hit he put on Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson on Oct. 10. Kaleta cannot play even during an appeal process.

The Sabres will be without left wing Zemgus Girgensons as well. A shot deflected up and hit him in the face in the first period on Tuesday, leaving his left eye bruised and swollen. He joined the team on the ice midway through the morning skate on Thursday while wearing a full cage on his helmet. Rolston hopes Girgensons will be ready to play on Saturday against Colorado.

“It’s actually gotten better. He’s got a little slit there he can see out of, but he won’t be in tonight … It’s come a long way over a short period of time,” Rolston said.

After playing three games in four nights, the Sabres had a mandatory day off on Wednesday. Rolston said that the schedule has made it difficult to get practices in and that it reminds him a lot of what the team went through during the lockout-shortened season last year.

“In those situations, we actually try to bring the energy back to the rink because after a day off usually, whether it’s passing or just getting the cobwebs out after a day off, so these are treated like a mini-practice you have to have out there,” he said.

“Now, like it was last year, a lot of it is trying to find the time to make adjustments and teach, but also manage energy with the game schedule that you have. It’s important that the guys have their energy during the games.”

26 Thomas Vanek – 19 Cody Hodgson – 9 Steve Ott
63 Tyler Ennis – 82 Marcus Foligno – 21 Drew Stafford
12 Kevin Porter – 22 Johan Larsson – 65 Brian Flynn
32 John Scott – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 8 Cody McCormick

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 3 Mark Pysyk
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
6 Mike Weber – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: 4 Jamie McBain, 28 Zemgus Girgensons
Suspended: 36 Patrick Kaleta

POSTED ON Tuesday, 10.15.2013 / 1:16 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

Rasmus Ristolainen

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Rasmus Ristolainen watched his first regular season NHL game from the press box Monday night. He’ll be back on the ice Tuesday against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum at 7 p.m.

Ristolainen was a healthy scratch against the Minnesota Wild on Monday and Sabres coach Ron Rolston said that allowing him to sit out a game will be important for his development as a player.

“We’ve played some of the top teams in the League early on here so it’s given him experience, but being out gives him some perspective on things he needs to get better at and I know he’ll make improvements because that’s the kind of person he is,” Rolston said after the team’s optional skate Tuesday morning.

Ristolainen, 18, was Buffalo’s top pick (eighth overall) in this year’s draft and he realizes that he needs to improve his stick work and be more of a presence in front of the net in the NHL. Watching his teammates play on Monday helped him understand what he needs to do to be a better player.

“I watched how yesterday our D played,” he said. “…I [took] away some of the things they’ve done and I think it helped me a lot.”

Having played against men in the Finnish Elite League the past two seasons, he said the levels of competition between that league and the NHL is noticeably different.

“Of course it’s harder here. In [Finland], it’s easier to play there,” he said. “Here, there are so much better players, so I have to play also better.”

The Sabres power play has struggled so far this season. Buffalo has converted only 8 percent of their opportunities through seven games (2-for-25). Ristolainen has played on the team’s second unit and said a key to getting out of their slump is to put pucks on goal through traffic.

“Of course, I need to get more pucks to net and the whole team needs to get more pucks to the net [with] the guys in front of their goalie,” he said. “Hopefully we get a couple goals soon.”

Defenseman Jamie McBain and rookie center Mikhail Grigorenko were the only skaters to take the ice for the optional morning skate and are expected to be healthy scratches against the Islanders. Goaltenders Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth also put in some on-ice work.

Right wing Patrick Kaleta has a 2 p.m. hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety regarding a hit he put on Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson on Thursday. He has not played in the team’s past two games because of the scheduled hearing.

POSTED ON Monday, 10.14.2013 / 12:49 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE
   Henrik Tallinder

Henrik Tallinder will make his return to the lineup after missing the past four games with an upper-body injury. He’ll be paired with Tyler Myers when the Buffalo Sabres take on the Minnesota Wild on Monday at First Niagara Center at 7:30 p.m.

The game can be seen on NBCSN and TSN2. It can be heard live on WGR 550.

The Sabres will have to make a roster move in order to activate Tallinder from injured reserve. Rookie defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen and six-year pro Alexander Sulzer will be healthy scratches against Minnesota and are candidates to be sent down to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.

Sabres coach Ron Rolston said after the morning skate that a decision hasn’t yet been made, but will be prior to the game.

Ristolainen, 18, was Buffalo’s top pick (eighth overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft. In six games this season, he’s averaged 16:47 of ice time and registered seven shots on goal.

“He plays with a lot of poise. He’s good positionally. He moves the puck well, heavy shot,” Rolston said. "But he’s learning the game and the speed and the tempo and playing against some of these top forwards in the League, so it’s a big learning curve.”

Ristolainen’s played both on the power play and penalty kill, but Rolston said would he like to see the 6-foot-4, 219-pound Finnish defenseman improve his stick work and play in front of the net.

“He puts himself in good position a lot and he’s a big body. But again, the speed in the League, he’s still adjusting to and the traffic in the offensive zone, he’s still adjusting to,” Rolston said. “Again, he’s a young, young player and he’s done a good job for his experience in the League so far.”

Sulzer started the season with the Amerks and made his season debut with Buffalo against Chicago on Saturday. He logged 19:20 of ice time with three blocked shots.

Johnas Enroth was the first goaltender off the ice and is expected to start.

Former Sabres captain Jason Pominville will play his first game against Buffalo since the team traded him and a 2014 fourth-round pick to Minnesota at the trade deadline last season for center Johan Larsson, goaltender Matt Hackett, a 2013 first-round pick (defenseman Nikita Zadorov) and a 2014 second-round pick.

Sabres co-captain Thomas Vanek played with Pominville for parts of nine seasons, including one in Rochester. He said it will probably be strange at first to see Pominville lined up against him. However, his team’s focus will have to be on playing a good game. The Sabres are still looking for their first victory of the season. Through six games, they're 0-5-1.

“Obviously it’s going to be weird, but at the same time, that’s part of the business, part of the game,” Vanek said. “For us right now, we need to focus on what we did well in the past few games and continue to do those more throughout the game.”

26 Thomas Vanek – 19 Cody Hodgson – 9 Steve Ott
82 Marcus Foligno – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 65 Brian Flynn
12 Kevin Porter – 22 Johan Larsson – 8 Cody McCormick

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

1 Jhonas Enroth
30 Ryan Miller

Scratched: 32 John Scott, 52 Alexander Sulzer, 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
Suspended: 36 Patrick Kaleta

POSTED ON Saturday, 10.12.2013 / 3:09 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE
  Alexander Sulzer

CHICAGO – Alexander Sulzer doesn’t wake up every morning at 6 a.m. listening to Sonny and Cher, but he thinks he has an idea of what Phil Connors went through.

The Sabres defenseman will make his season debut Saturday night in the team’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center after being a healthy scratch the past three games.

Having served as an extra defenseman before, he’s mentally prepared to step back into the lineup and is looking forward to another opportunity to play.

“It’s pretty much like ‘Groundhog Day’ for me,” Sulzer said after the team’s optional morning skate. “I’ve been through it for the last five years. It’s not that I’m not putting pressure on [myself], but I know how to handle it. It’s part of the situation I’m in. I’m in the NHL. There’s no reason for me to complain.”

Sulzer has been in and out of lineups his entire career, having never played more than 31 games in a season. He was logging regular minutes with the Sabres last year before a knee injury cut his season short after 17 games.

After re-signing with the team over the summer, he was waived prior to the start of the regular season and then recalled from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League on Oct. 5. Sulzer has practiced alongside Tyler Myers this week and he could very well be paired with Myers against the Blackhawks.

Sulzer will take Mike Weber’s place in the lineup. Weber will be a healthy scratch.

“[Weber’s] in a situation where we have seven defensemen and we want guys to not get comfortable in their positions,” Sabres coach Rolston said. “So tonight we made a change.”

Running with the theme of not allowing players to get complacent regarding their playing time, 19-year-old rookie center Mikhail Grigorenko was scratched for the Sabres 4-1 loss to Columbus on Thursday. He’ll be back on the ice against Chicago.

“It’s not a guarantee to be in the lineup. That gave him some perspective by watching and now he gets to get back in the lineup and try to improve,” Rolston said. “We’ve got the two young centers in there tonight [Grigorenko and Johan Larsson] so we’ve been committed to giving those guys opportunity. It just so happens that [center Kevin Porter] is out.”

Thomas Vanek, Cody Hodgson, Drew Stafford, Steve Ott, Tyler Ennis, Patrick Kaleta and Christian Ehrhoff did not skate.

Ryan Mller was the first goaltender off the ice after the skate and is expected to start.

Kaleta is scheduled to have an in-person hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety on Tuesday for a hit he made on Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson on Thursday. Kaleta is unavailable to play until then.

This will be Kaleta’s fourth suspension by the NHL. He received a five-game suspension last season for a hit on New York Rangers forward Brad Richards.

“For him, I think he’s been through this before. He’s got to be extra careful just because of his past history. We’ll see what happens here come Tuesday and we’ll go from there. He’s going to have to deal with it,” Rolston said. "...The League is putting a big emphasis on anything that has contact with the head, so once you saw it, you knew they were going to look at it right away and make a decision on it.”

Kaleta is one player the Sabres rely on to consistently kill penalties and the shorthanded unit has been a bright spot so far this season. The team’s is currently fourth in the NHL at 93.3 percent, having killed off 14 of 15 penalties. With Kaleta, Porter and Weber all not playing against Chicago, the penalty kill could have a different look.

Sabres forward Brian Flynn has made himself more valuable to the team by being able to kill penalties.

“It’s one of those things that’s such a big part of the game,” Flynn said. “If you want to play some more minutes out there, that’s one way to do it.”

POSTED ON Thursday, 10.10.2013 / 10:39 AM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

Ryan Miller is expected to be back between the pipes for the Buffalo Sabres when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday at First Niagara Center at 7 p.m.

Miller has not played in the past two games due to a minor lower-body injury. However, he’s been practicing with the team since Tuesday and will be ready to go against Columbus. He was the first goalie off the ice Thursday after the morning skate.

Rookie center Mikhail Grigorenko will be a healthy scratch. Another rookie, Johan Larsson, will suit up instead. Grigorenko’s ice time has decreased in each of the four games he’s played this season. He skated 8:07 on Tuesday against Tampa Bay.

“I think for [Grigorenko], we go back to the impact that he has on a game and right now, he needs to pick up his urgency in his game,” Sabres coach Ron Rolston said after practice. “There hasn’t been a lot of urgency to it. At times there has been, but not consistently enough.”

Larsson has been a healthy scratch for two games this season. He did not play in the season opener at Detroit or against the Lightning. Larsson played 9:09 in his last game – against Pittsburgh on Saturday – and registered one shot on goal.

“I felt more confident that game even if the ice time wasn’t that much,” he said. “I felt better, had the puck more and wanted to do something with the puck, don’t just give it way. So I felt more and more comfortable.”

Rolston said he’s been impressed with Larsson so far and that having the 21-year-old center match-up against other team’s scoring lines will be an ongoing learning experience. Being consistent will be another challenge.

“I think it’s difficult in the sense he’s going to be playing against top players and it’s part of the experience for him right now,” Rolston said. “But I like his competitive nature and what he brings. He’ll battle and he’s a smart player. He’s in good position all the time so I think he’s going to continue to make those adjustments.”

Henrik Tallinder skated with the team for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury on Friday against Ottawa. He practiced while wearing a red non-contact jersey and took reps as an extra defenseman with Alexander Sulzer.

Rolston said Tallinder could be ready for the team’s game in Chicago on Saturday. Tallinder is currently on injured reserve and Buffalo would have to activate him from that list before he would be able to play.

Rookie defenseman Nikita Zadorov was on the ice, but in a limited capacity. The Sabres have the option of returning him to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.

Corey Tropp and Joel Armia have been skating as well, but not with the team. Rolston said this is the first week Tropp has been able to exercise since breaking his jaw in a fight during Buffalo’s preseason game on Sept. 22 agains Toronto. Armia has been able to work out, but is limited in his on-ice routines. Armia broke his hand in an exhibition game on Sept. 25.

Rolston said both players are still “a ways away.”

26 Thomas Vanek – 19 Cody Hodgson – 9 Steve Ott
82 Marcus Foligno – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 22 Johan Larsson – 65 Brian Flynn
8 Cody McCormick – 12 Kevin Porter – 36 Patrick Kaleta

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 3 Mark Pysyk
6 Mike Weber – 57 Tyler Myers
4 Jamie McBain – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: 25 Mikhail Grigorenko, 32 John Scott, 52 Alexander Sulzer, 61 Nikita Zadorov
Injured: 20 Henrik Tallinder (upper body)
Did Not Participate: 23 Ville Leino (cracked rib), 78 Corey Tropp (broken jaw), 33 Joel Armia (broken hand) .

POSTED ON Tuesday, 10.8.2013 / 12:37 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

The Buffalo Sabres have scored only twice in their first three game and have been outshot 115-76 by the opposition this season. The goals have come from one young player – rookie Zemgus Girgensons – and one experienced goal scorer – co-captain Thomas Vanek.

They’ll look to generate more offensive chances and earn their first win of the season Tuesday night when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning at First Niagara Center at 7:30 p.m. The game can be seen nationally on NBCSN and heard locally on WGR 550.

“For us, we need more compete. We need more compete down low,” Sabres co-captain Steve Ott said after practice Tuesday morning. “Puck time in the zone is a big thing, getting over pucks and being strong on pucks in those 50-50 battles that need to be won. [When] you start winning a majority of those is when your shot totals miraculously start coming up in a hurry.”

Ott elaborated on the belief that more shots – and more goals – will come with hard work.

“It’s sticking with the process. We can’t be wishing for things out there and hopefully something goes in,” he said. “This all comes down to battle, to execution, to continue to push forward. You’ll find the goals. The goals will come with that continued work ethic.”

    Jhonas Enroth

Jhonas Enroth was the first goaltender off the ice, so he’s expected to make his second start of the young season. Ryan Miller skated with the team and took extra work with the forwards afterward. Sabres coach Ron Rolston said that Miller is just about ready after missing one game due to a lower-body injury.

“How did he look? Probably not as good as he did early on, but he’s getting there I think,” Rolston said.

Cody Hodgson was also back on the ice after missing practice on Monday due to a lower-body injury. He skated with Thomas Vanek and Steve Ott during line rushes.

Marcus Foligno will make his season debut on a line with Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford. Foligno hasn’t played since sustaining an upper-body injury in a preseason game on Sept. 22.

On defense, the pairings were shuffled a bit for the second day in a row. Mike Weber skated once again with Tyler Myers while Jamie McBain took reps with rookie Rasmus Ristolainen. The duo of Christian Ehrhoff and Mark Pysyk remained intact.

“We wanted a little bit more stability in some situations, especially against some of the higher end forwards in the League,” Rolston said.

26 Thomas Vanek – 19 Cody Hodgson – 9 Steve Ott
82 Marcus Foligno – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 65 Brian Flynn
32 John Scott – 12 Kevin Porter – 36 Patrick Kaleta

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 3 Mark Pysyk
6 Mike Weber – 57 Tyler Myers
4 Jamie McBain – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen

1 Jhonas Enroth
30 Ryan Miller

Scratched: 8 Cody McCormick, 22 Johan Larsson, 52 Alexander Sulzer
Injured: 20 Henrik Tallinder, 23 Ville Leino, 33 Joel Armia, 61 Nikita Zadorov, 78 Corey Tropp .

POSTED ON Saturday, 10.5.2013 / 11:44 AM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

PITTSBURGH – Defenseman Jamie McBain will play his first game in the blue and gold on Saturday when the Buffalo Sabres take on the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center at 7 p.m. He’ll skate alongside Tyler Myers as Henrik Tallinder is unable to go due to an upper-body injury.

McBain was a healthy scratch for Buffalo’s first two games of the season. He was acquired by the Sabres at the 2013 NHL Draft from the Carolina Hurricanes.

“I just have to go out there and play my game. I can’t think about trying to do too much, trying to impress anyone in any certain way just because it is my first game,” McBain said after an optional morning skate.

McBain recorded 11 points with the man advantage in 2011-12, scoring five times, but had an admittedly disappointing season last year. The Sabres power play is 0-for-11 this season, so McBain may be able to give it a boost. He’s done some practice work with the Sabres’ second unit the past few weeks.

“I consider myself a good power play guy too, so I’m looking forward to getting out there on the power play and hopefully just doing my part to get that jump started,” he said.

Goaltender Matt Hackett and defenseman Alexander Sulzer skated in Pittsburgh as well. Both played in the Rochester Americans’ home opener on Friday.

The roster spots on the blue line have opened up because Tallinder left the Sabres' 1-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Friday with an upper-body injury and did not make the trip with the team to Pittsburgh. An update on his condition could be available from coach Ron Rolston when he addresses the media later this afternoon.

Sulzer re-joined the Sabres after making his Rochester Americans debut on Friday against Grand Rapids. He’s scored 12 points in three games with the Sabres since the team traded for him at the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline. He was waived by Buffalo and assigned to the Amerks prior to the start of the season.

Hackett stopped 24 of 30 shots Friday before being lifted late in the second period. Hackett said he received a phone call at home at about midnight, telling him he had been recalled. He drove to Buffalo and then caught a ride to Pittsburgh.

“I was home about to pass out, got in my car and drove to Buffalo,” he said after practice. "...I’m just here to back up tonight, I guess."

That means Jhonas Enroth will most likely start in goal. Ryan Miller, who made 45 saves against the Senators on Friday, may not dress.

Forwards on the ice: Zemgus Girgensons, Mikhail Grigorenko, Brian Flynn, Cody McCormick, Johan Larsson, John Scott.

Defense on the ice: Alexander Sulzer, Jamie McBain, Rasmus Ristolainen, Mark Pysyk.

Goaltenders on the ice: Jhonas Enroth, Matt Hackett.

POSTED ON Friday, 10.4.2013 / 10:36 AM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE
            Johan Larsson

The Buffalo Sabres will take the ice at First Niagara Center for the first time this season Friday night and a few players will participate in their very first home game.

Three rookies – Zemgus Girgensons, Rasmus Ristolainen and Johan Larsson – will also be playing in their second career NHL games. The Sabres take on the Ottawa Senators at 7 p.m.

Girgensons and Ristolainen made their debuts on Wednesday in the season opener in Detroit. Larsson played one game for the Minnesota Wild last season before being acquired by the Sabres at the trade deadline. He was a healthy scratch Wednesday but with Ville Leino out with a cracked rib, he will center the second line consisting of Steve Ott and Tyler Ennis.

Larsson said after the morning skate that having that first game already under his belt will be helpful. What’s also helped is that he’s been playing center through all of the preseason.

“It’s going to be tough, but I feel confidence there. I’ve been there the whole camp and [now I] just go out there and play,” he said. “There’s always going to mistakes but I’m excited to be out there. Ennis and Ott are two good players to play with so it shouldn’t be too big of a deal.”

Ennis will move from center to right wing and through two practices, Ott likes the prospects of the new line.

“I like the combination of being responsible in our own end with him being a very responsible player and then also having scoring ability with great touch,” Ott said. “I think [Larsson] brings a very good element to our line. Obviously it moves [Ennis] over on the right side, but he’s a great winger and centerman. So you get that combination of a little bit of everything.”

In the other lineup change from Wednesday, the fourth line will look a little bit different. Kevin Porter will slide into the middle and left wing John Scott will make his season debut. Cody McCormick will be a healthy scratch.

“We’re just going lineup to lineup,” Rolston said. “I think Cody McCormick’s done a good job but we want to get John in there tonight.”

The defensive pairings will remain the same with Jamie McBain serving as a healthy scratch.

Ryan Miller will start against the Senators.

After the game, the Sabres will travel to Pittsburgh and with three games in four nights, it’s possible that Jhonas Enroth could start in goal against the Penguins on Saturday. Rolston said “we’ll see” when asked about Enroth getting an early game in.

“We want to get Jhonas more starts this year. As we’ve talked before, we know [Miller’s] going to have the bulk, but we have to prepare Jhonas also to get some more time in there,” he said.

In anticipation of the first home game of the 2013-14 season, the Sabres are reminding fans about the limited traffic patterns surrounding First Niagara Center due to the construction of HARBORcenter. The team is also encouraging fans to arrive early for the 7 p.m. game against the Ottawa Senators. With the Party in the Plaza planned for before the game, in addition to a pregame handout for fans, early arrival will ensure an orderly entrance into the arena.

As a result of the HARBORcenter construction, vehicular traffic is limited to one lane northbound (away from arena) on Washington Street and one lane southbound (toward arena) on Main Street. While there have been and will continue to be temporary road closures, no closures are currently planned during arena events.

All normal event parking – in both the arena ramp and the surrounding surface lots – will remain open.

Fans that plan on visiting First Niagara Center while the limited traffic routes are in effect should plan on using Michigan Avenue instead of Washington Street. It is strongly suggested that fans plan ahead and leave extra time for traveling to and from the arena.

During First Niagara Center events, the Buffalo Police Department Traffic Division will control all affected intersections and will direct traffic accordingly.

26 Thomas Vanek – 19 Cody Hodgson – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 22 Johan Larsson – 63 Tyler Ennis
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 65 Brian Flynn
32 John Scott – 12 Kevin Porter – 36 Patrick Kaleta

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 3 Mark Pysyk
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
6 Mike Weber – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: 8 Cody McCormick , 4 Jamie McBain
Injured: 82 Marcus Foligno (upper-body strain), 23 Ville Leino (cracked rib), 78 Corey Tropp (broken jaw), 33 Joel Armia (broken hand), 61 Nikita Zadorov (lacerated finger)

9 Milan Michalek – 19 Jason Spezza – 6 Bobby Ryan
16 Clarke MacArthur – 7 Kyle Turris – 89 Cory Conacher
14 Colin Greening – 44 Jean-Gabriel Pageau – 22 Erik Condra
15 Zack Smith – 24 Stephane Da Costa – 25 Chris Neil

65 Erik Karlsson – 3 Marc Methot
2 Jared Cowen – 46 Patrick Wiercioch
4 Chris Phillips – 62 Eric Gryba

41 Craig Anderson
40 Robin Lehner

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