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Beyond The Boards
POSTED ON Friday, 01.24.2014 / 3:15 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

After a three-game homestand in which they went 0-2-1, the Buffalo Sabres are looking forward to going on the road. Four of their next five games are away from First Niagara Center.

“Sometimes, you go on the road and it’s good for you when you’re in a little bit of a funk,” forward Matt Moulson said after practice Friday at First Niagara Center. “You can play a lot simpler. There’s no one to impress on the road and you can concentrate on just grinding out wins. We’ll approach it like that, play a simple game and get wins.”

The first game of the road trip takes the Sabres to Columbus, where they’ll take on the red-hot Blue Jackets on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets are currently riding an eight-game winning streak.

“They’ve been great of late,” Sabres center Cody Hodgson said. “They’ve got a lot of firepower and just the way they play the game is fast. We have to eliminate that.”

The Sabres have scored three goals in each of the past five games, but are only 0-3-2 in that span. While the offense has come around, there have been lapses in the defensive zone that have cost the team points. The players and coaching staff are working to find that proper balance of offense and defense.

“It just comes back to working as a five-man unit,” defenseman Jamie McBain said. “I think we’ve kind of gotten away from that a little bit, whether it’s our net-front coverage or sorting things out -- the teams lately have had very active D – so trying to sort things out down low. But I think it just comes back to us working as a five-man unit and getting the puck up the ice together.”

After the game in Columbus, the Sabres travel to Pittsburgh for a Monday night meeting with the Penguins. They’re back at home against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday before heading out West for a pair of games against the Phoenix Coyotes and the Colorado Avalanche.


Tyler Ennis and Mark Pysyk were absent from practice.

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said Ennis was a “little banged up” from the game Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes and was given Friday off as a maintenance day. He’s expected to play Saturday night in Columbus.

As for Pysyk, the team announced after practice that he had been assigned to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League. Nolan has said that they would like Pysyk to play in the AHL during the Olympic break.

Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel has been called up from the Amerks.


The Sabres spent the first half of practice focusing on their passing. The coaching staff put an emphasis on crisp outlets in the early drills.

Since the schedule allowed for the team to put in a full practice, Nolan wanted to take that time to get back to basics.

“If you look at golfers, they go to driving ranges; baseball players go to batting cages; basketball players go to free throw lines; in hockey, we don’t do the most fundamental thing that we should be able to do on a natural instant, which is pass the puck,” he said. “Every once in a while, you have to go back to school and just do the basic stuff. Today was one of those days.”


26 Matt Moulson – 17 Linus Omark – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
82 Marcus Foligno – 84 Philip Varone – 65 Brian Flynn
32 John Scott – 24 Zenon Konopka – 37 Matt Ellis – 23 Ville Leino
Red Non-Contact: 8 Cody McCormick

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

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.22.2014 / 2:36 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

When Ted Nolan took over as interim head coach of the Buffalo Sabres in November, one of his first tasks was to get the team playing better defensive hockey.

The coaching staff emphasized improving play in the team’s own zone when the goals weren’t coming and have now shifted their focus to producing offense. Now, the team is scoring goals but the defensive zone play has been slipping.

Nolan compared the problems to the Whac-A-Mole arcade game.

“It’s one of those things you keep popping down and then another one pops up. And then you pop that one down and then another one,” he said after practice Wednesday at First Niagara Center. “That’s why training camps are so important and that’s why you go through all that stuff and you try to get a good foundation.”

The Sabres have increased their offensive production lately. The team has scored three goals in each of the past four games, but is 0-2-2 and has lost each game by a score of 4-3.

WATCH: TED NOLAN PRESS CONFERENCE

“Now we just need to connect them both. We had a good meeting with the team today. We talked about execution,” Nolan said. “We’ve gotta execute a little bit better. We can’t have spurts when we go for the goals and we forget about the defensive zone and vice versa. It’s a combination of executing all facets of our game.”

The players are looking for answers themselves on how to put together a complete game at both ends of the rink.

“That’s what we’re working towards, but right now and the way it’s been, we can’t find a way to play a full 60 minutes, to play a consistent effort on both sides of the puck,” defenseman Mike Weber said. “Right now we just have to find a way internally to figure it out. It’s frustrating right now. Pucks weren’t going in and now pucks are going in, but we can’t keep them out. It’s just a difficult time we’re trying to work through.


Mark Pysyk and Steve Ott did not practice with the team.

Nolan revealed that Pysyk has a nagging injury that caused him to miss practice. That injury also happened to play a role in why he did not play in the team’s game against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.

“He was banged up a little bit last game and that’s one of the reasons why we didn’t play him,” Nolan said.

It’s still possible that Pysyk will be sent down to the American Hockey League to play with the Rochester Americans during the Olympic break. Nolan said he, president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine and general manager Tim Murray are having ongoing discussions about that. They could come to a decision as soon as Wednesday afternoon.

Ott was given a maintenance day and is expected to play Thursday night when the Sabres host the Carolina Hurricanes at 7 p.m.


The Hurricanes, meanwhile, can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to snowstorms.

They were scheduled to play the Flyers in Philadelphia on Tuesday, but wintry weather conditions forced the NHL to push the game back to Wednesday night.

It’s the second time this month Carolina has had a game postponed due to the weather.

The last game between the Sabres and Hurricanes was supposed to take place on Jan. 7 but had to be rescheduled because of blizzard-like in Buffalo. That game will now be played on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m.

The Sabres players know they have an opportunity to jump on the Hurricanes once the puck drops in their next match Thursday night.

“We have to take advantage of it now because they’re going to be playing a back-to-back game,” Sabres forward Marcus Foligno said. “Unfortunately for them, they don’t have good luck with snow storms. It’s something where we had Florida on a back-to-back and we needed to take advantage of that and we didn’t. We have to be ready for Carolina.”


26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 19 Cody Hodgson – 23 Ville Leino
82 Marcus Foligno – 65 Brian Flynn – 12 Kevin Porter
32 John Scott – 24 Zenon Konopka – 37 Matt Ellis – 17 Linus Omark
Red Non-Contact: 8 Cody McCormick

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

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Monday, 01.20.2014 / 2:12 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Linus Omark has been waiting for his opportunity to get back into the Buffalo Sabres lineup. It may come Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers.

Omark skated on the second line with center Cody Hodgson and left wing Steve Ott at practice Monday morning at First Niagara Center. He’s been a healthy scratch the past two games and is looking for his first goal of the season. In nine games with the Sabres, he has one assist.

“Both Cody and Ott are really good players, so then I have to produce,” he said. “It’s an opportunity if I’m going to play with those guys.”

WATCH: LINUS OMARK INTERVIEW

He wasn’t sure if he’ll be in the lineup against Panthers but is working with the mindset that he will be.

“Of course you always want to play but we’ll see what happens now if I’m going to play next game or not," he said. "I have tried to work hard in practice and off-ice, so I’m prepared if I play.”

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said he’ll make a decision on the roster after the team’s morning skate on Tuesday.

“We’ll give it another day to think about but I liked the way [Omark] practiced today,” he said.

GREAT SEATS STILL AVAILABLE FOR TUESDAY VS. FLORIDA

Ville Leino, who played with Hodgson and Ott on Saturday, practiced at right wing on the fourth line with John Scott and Matt Ellis.

“We’re looking for people that want to compete and want to work. It doesn’t matter what your skill level [is]. Skill is nothing with no will,” Nolan said. “So we have to get [Leino] competing at a certain level and some days he shows it and some days he doesn’t.”


Henrik Tallinder and Kevin Porter are closer to returning. Tallinder’s been out since New Year’s Eve with an upper-body injury while Porter has missed 11 games with a lower-body injury.

“Tallidner is pretty close so he’ll probably be a game-time decision,” Nolan said.

Porter said he’s feeling better every day and didn’t rule out the possibility of being ready for Florida.

“Hopefully in the next couple days,” he said. “I’m not sure. I still need to talk to the training staff and the coaches and see what they say.”

WATCH: KEVIN PORTER INTERVIEW

The practice on Monday marked his first time skating with the team in a regular jersey. He’d been skating in a red jersey, signaling no contact.

Porter practiced with Zenon Konopka as extra forwards. Konopka has committed three minor penalties in the past three games and the opposing power play has scored each time Konopka has been in the box. He’ll likely be a healthy scratch against the Panthers.

WATCH: TED NOLAN PRESS CONFERENCE

“He’s going to have to wait. If you’re going to change things, it can’t just be for a chosen few. It has to be for everybody and those penalties, they could be avoided,” Nolan said. “We can’t afford to take bad penalties. We can’t afford to [make] too many turnovers in a game. They’re going to kill us every time.

So in order for us to show the young guys what it takes to try to win on a consistent basis, those are the types of things we have to do.”


Five Sabres players had their heads shaved after practice in the First Niagara Center atrium as part of the “Goin’ Bald For Bucks” campaign. The players are raising money to support critical research and cancer care programs at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. They were surrounded by students from several schools in the area.

Cody Hodgson, who had his head shaved by goaltender Ryan Miller, will match every dollar donated to the Sabres “Goin’ Bald For Bucks” page. He also grew his hair out for about a month in anticipation of the event.

“I was going to get it cut within that week and then they asked, and I was like, ‘It would be much better if I let it grow a little bit,’” he said afterward. “That’s actually the longest my hair’s ever been. It feels kind of weird, really airy without it. It’ll probably look better though than that big afro.”

Hodgson said that Mike Weber was the first player to commit to shaving his head and he agreed soon after. Mark Pysyk, Brayden McNabb and Alexander Sulzer also had their heads shaved. Miller, Steve Ott, Brian Flynn, Drew Stafford and John Scott played the role of barbers.

Donations can be made at BaldForBucks.org. The Sabres donation page can be found here. Donations will be accepted on the website through Friday.


26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 17 Linus Omark
82 Marcus Foligno – 65 Brian Flynn – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
32 John Scott – 37 Matt Ellis – 23 Ville Leino
12 Kevin Porter – 24 Zenon Konopka
Red Non-Contact: 8 Cody McCormick

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

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Friday, 01.17.2014 / 2:56 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Marcus Foligno missed the Buffalo Sabres’ last game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday due to an injury, but was a full participant in practice Friday with at First Niagara Center.

He said he’ll be ready to go Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets when the two teams meet at 7 p.m.

“[It was] a reoccurring injury that just kind of got pinched in the game against Philly [on Tuesday] and it’s all better now,” he said. “The trainers looked after me and it’s something where you just needed to rest it and I’m looking forward to getting back at it tomorrow.”

WATCH: MARCUS FOLIGNO INTERVIEW

Some other familiar faces rejoined the Buffalo Sabres for practice. Henrik Tallinder and Kevin Porter skated with the team.

Tallinder has missed six games with an upper-body injury. He sustained the injury on his first shift of the team’s game against the Washington Capitals on Dec. 29. He ended up playing 21:05 in the game.

“Because you’re so pumped with adrenaline, you don’t really feel it when you’re playing. It’s more a couple hours after the game when everything’s cooling down, that’s when you feel the injury,” he said.

Tallinder practiced with the team the morning they left for their next game in Winnipeg, but ended up not making the trip.

“We thought it was just a bone bruise and I couldn’t even hold my stick,” he said. “So we took a look at the x-ray again and they could spot a little crack in there.”

Tallinder said he won’t be ready for Buffalo’s home game Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets but hopes to play next week.

WATCH: HENRIK TALLINDER INTERVIEW


Porter and Cody McCormick skated in red non-contact jerseys. Nolan said they’re both still at least a week away from playing.

Porter has been out since Dec. 23 with a lower-body injury. McCormick last played 12 games ago, on Dec. 17.

Since Tallinder, Porter and McCormick are on injured reserve, the organization would need to make roster moves in order to activate them for game action with the Sabres.


Drew Stafford had missed four games with an upper-body injury, but played against Toronto. He was put on the top line with Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis to start the game.

WATCH: TED NOLAN PRESS CONFERENCE

Zemgus Girgensons, who had been playing on the right wing with Ennis and Moulson skated with Ville Leino and Brian Flynn on the third line.

“Whatever line Girgensons plays with, I think you’re going to get the same effort. Whether he’s with Ennis or with Flynn or whoever’s he with, he’s going to do the same thing,” Nolan said. “With Drew, we just need a little bit more from him.”

When Matt D’Agostini went down with an upper-body injury, the coaching staff was forced to juggle the lines a bit. Nolan said D’Agostini will miss about a week.

WATCH: DREW STAFFORD INTERVIEW

Stafford finished the game with 19:46 of ice time and two shots on goal.

“It was good to get back in. It was a little tough we lost a forward right away, double-shifting a couple times and we were rolling three lines,” Stafford said. “I was kind of thrown right into the fire. They’re a pretty physical team so it was a pretty good test. I felt all right. Nice to have a day to recover and looking forward having a good one tomorrow.”


26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 23 Ville Leino
82 Marcus Foligno – 65 Brian Flynn – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
32 John Scott / 17 Linus Omark – 24 Zenon Konopka – 37 Matt Ellis
Red Non-Contact: 8 Cody McCormick – 12 Kevin Porter

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

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Monday, 01.13.2014 / 2:29 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

After Ville Leino and Cody Hodgson made their returns to the Buffalo Sabres lineup on Sunday, at least one more player is close to making a comeback.

Drew Stafford skated with the team Monday morning at First Niagara Center for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury against the Minnesota Wild on New Year’s Day. He skated in a red non-contact jersey but thinks he might be able to play soon.

“It’s more [of a] day-to-day kind of thing. I’ve been feeling really good the last couple days,” Stafford said. “I had a really long day today, hard working day today. We’ll see how it responds later today and tomorrow morning. That’s pretty much where we’re at.”

WATCH: DREW STAFFORD INTERVIEW

Cody McCormick, also in a red non-contact jersey, isn’t as close to coming off injured reserve as Stafford may be, but is happy to be back on the ice as a part of a team practice. He’s missed 11 games with an upper-body injury. He made his return to practice on Saturday.

“There’s still time, but getting back with the guys and being able to participate in practices, it’s a welcome change to what I was doing,” McCormick said. “You want to practice with the guys, you want to be around the guys and when you’re hurt, you’re doing the things on the side and working to get back into practice. It feels good to get out there.”

Henrik Tallinder and Kevin Porter, who are also on injured reserve, have been skating on their own and interim coach Ted Nolan said that they, like McCormick, will still be out for a little while longer.

Steve Ott was given a maintenance day and did not practice. John Scott, a healthy scratch in the team’s 2-1 shootout win in Washington on Sunday, took Ott’s spot on a line with Cody Hodgson and Matt D’Agostini.


The Sabres announced late Sunday night that 19-year-old center Mikhail Grigorenko had decided to accept his assignment to the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

“We can’t control what people do and what they say, but we certainly can control how we’re going to try to run this organization and what we feel is necessary for the development of young players,” Nolan said. “The tail can’t wag the dog. The dog wags the tail.

“So we feel as an organization, it’s best for him to develop in junior hockey and that’s not taking anything away from him. He’s got some skills and he’s got some ability, but in order for him to play at this level, we just need a little bit more.”


With Tallinder out with an upper-body injury and Tyler Myers serving a three-game suspension, the Sabres coaching staff has been rotating the second “A.” Mike Weber served as an alternate captain on Thursday against Florida and the letter was given to Matt Moulson for the game on Sunday.

WATCH: MATT MOULSON INTERVIEW

“It’s an honor to have a letter on your jersey,” Mouslon said. “I don’t think it changes the way you act or the things I would do. Who knows how long I’ll have it for, but it is always an honor to be looked upon as a leader.”


In his last 10 games, Ryan Miller has a save percentage of .950. That’s the best save percentage he’s posted in any 10-game stretch of his career.

He made a highlight-reel save with the blade of his stick on Mikhail Grabovski with 2:14 to play in the third period that Nolan called “one for the ages.”

After the game, Nolan said he was looking down to see which line to call out next and had to watch the save on replay.

“I was looking down at my papers for the next line combination and the guys said I missed the save of the year,” Nolan said Sunday night.

How would Nolan describe Miller’s play of late?

“Out of this world, maybe,” he said. “I don’t know. His last two starts and every game he’s played here since I’ve been here have been outstanding.”

WATCH: TED NOLAN PRESS CONFERENCE

Miller’s teammates have noticed his strong play all season.

“He’s one of the best goalies in the world and sometimes when you do have breakdowns, he’s obviously there to bail you out much like he’s done all year,” Moulson said. “You have a world-class goalie like that, I think it instills a little more confidence in the team. He’s been playing tremendous.”


The win over the Capitals marked the team’s first win on the road since Nov. 5 in San Jose. They snapped an 11-game losing streak away from First Niagara Center.

“It’s nice to win any time, but I didn’t realize we didn’t win on the road for that long,” Nolan, who was hired on Nov. 13, said. “The guys sure knew. It’s not where we won, but how we won last night.

“I thought it was a real total team effort from the 20th guy to our goaltenders, right through the lineup, everybody contributed. Since I’ve been here, it was probably the best win as a team that we had.”

BUY TICKETS FOR TUESDAY NIGHT VS. PHILADELPHIA

The Sabres next take on the Philadelphia Flyers at home on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on NBCSN. After the game, Buffalo will travel to Toronto for a Wednesday night match against the Maple Leafs at 7:30 p.m.


26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
32 John Scott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
17 Linus Omark – 23 Ville Leino – 65 Brian Flynn
82 Marcus Foligno – 24 Zenon Konopka – 37 Matt Ellis

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

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Saturday, 01.11.2014 / 2:51 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Buffalo Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan broke the news after the team's practice Saturday morning at Riverside Ice Arena that the organization has loaned rookie center Mikhail Grigorenko back to the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Nolan said he was part of the discussions along with president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine and new general manager Tim Murray. He also said they believe the move is the best thing for Grigorenko’s long-term success.

“We’re not looking at what he can do for us now. We’re looking at what he can do for us down the road and when he develops. He’s only 19,” Nolan said. “…Development is crucial. In talking with Tim and Pat, that’s what we really want to do, is develop.”

After speaking with Grigorenko, Nolan hopes the young center will see playing in the QMJHL as a good opportunity.

“He was a little bit upset, I would imagine, but this is non-negotiable,” Nolan said. “It’s one of those things that has to be done.”


Cody Hodgson and Ville Leino were full participants in the Buffalo Sabres’ practice at Riverside Ice Arena on Saturday and are expected to play Sunday afternoon against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center.

Hodgson has missed the past eight games with an upper-body injury and was officially activated from injured reserve after practice.

“I’m really excited. It’s great,” Hodgson said. “The team’s been getting a lot of points, especially at home, so it’s good to watch and learn some things about the team and how I can fit in a little better.”

Leino has been out for three games with a lower-lower body injury.

“You don’t want players to get hurt, but once in awhile when they do and they have to rest their bodies, they come back with some renewed energy,” Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. “They seem both ready to go today.”

With Hodgson and Leino ready to return, the Sabres returned center Johan Larsson to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.

“He played really well for us,” Nolan said. “He’s going to be a good player for us but we just need him to get on a consistent basis.”

Sporting a red non-contact jersey, center Cody McCormick practiced with the team for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury on Dec. 17. He’s currently on injured reserve and has missed the past 10 games.

Kevin Porter, Drew Stafford and Henrik Tallinder, the other players who are on injured reserve, skated on their own before the team hit the ice.

Defenseman Brayden McNabb was also back with the team after being sent down Friday to play a game with the Amerks.


Ryan Miller is looking forward to getting back between the pipes for Buffalo. Jhonas Enroth was supposed to start Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, but when that game was postponed to Feb. 25 due to inclement weather, Enroth started the team’s next game on Thursday against Florida.

Miller hasn’t played since Jan. 4.

“That was a little strange. It’s kind of why I wanted to get some work in today,” Miller said. “I was actually trying to find some ice yesterday and couldn’t find anything. A little too much time around the house, just trying to get everything going and get ready for an afternoon game.

[It was] kind of an odd week for me, but these are things you prepare for and you look ahead for and just be ready to go.”


Nolan said he has not yet had any direct conversations with Murray about removing the interim tag from his title. For now, he’s focused on his day-to-day duties of coaching the team.

“Like I’ve mentioned before, one of these days, I hope it [is lifted], but it’s not one of my things I’m thinking about,” Nolan said. “It’s trying to get this team better right now and coaching this team to the best of my ability. Whatever happens down the road will happen and I feel confident in my ability, but we’ll see.”

The Sabres announced Thursday morning that they had hired Murray and in the few days he’s gotten to know him, Nolan said he’s been impressed by the new boss.

“I really like him. He’s direct. He knows people, he knows hockey players,” Nolan said. “As a coach, you want a person who’s going to load your arsenal up with some good talent. The only thing we have to do down the road is just open the gate and let them go.”


26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
9 Steve Ott - 19 Cody Hodgson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
23 Ville Leino – 65 Brian Flynn – 17 Linus Omark
82 Marcus Foligno – 24 Zenon Konopka – 37 Matt Ellis – 32 John Scott

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

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.08.2014 / 3:38 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

The Buffalo Sabres will be without Tyler Myers for the next three games. The defenseman received a two-minute penalty on Saturday for illegally checking New Jersey Devils forward Dainius Zubrus in the head. The NHL Department of Player Safety then scheduled a phone hearing with Myers for Monday and later announced that they had handed down a three-game suspension.

He received two for the hit and an extra game for being a repeat offender. He was suspended three games in March 2012 for boarding.

Initially, Myers didn’t think he would receive three games this time around.

“I was pretty surprised but there was a conversation after the phone call where he explained that it doesn’t matter what type of hit it is anymore. If there’s any contact to the head, it’s going to be 2-5 games,” he said after practice Wednesday at First Niagara Center.

“I liked the fact that on the phone call that everyone recognized that it wasn’t my intention to target his head. After I saw the video, it’s clear that there is contact to the head. Fortunately he’s OK and came back into the game and there are no problems there.”

WATCH: TYLER MYERS INTERVIEW

Buffalo will also be without Henrik Tallinder on Thursday when the Florida Panthers come to town.. Myers plays an average of 21:46 per night, second on the team. Tallinder is sixth, playing 19:20 each night on average, so other defensemen will have to play bigger roles for the Sabres.

Defenseman Mike Weber said they’ll have to look down the lineup to play key minutes on the penalty kill as well.

“Those are two guys that play a lot of minutes so guys are going to have to step up and play those minutes,” Weber said. “I think with that, stepping up in the right situation, you’re not going to replace a [Myers] with the offensive abilities that he has. Someone’s got to step up and just play solid minutes."


Center Cody Hodgson skated with the team for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury on Dec. 19 albeit in a red non-contact jersey.

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan hopes Hodgson will be able to return to the lineup soon.

“Right now it’s up to Cody. We’re going to see how he feels,” Nolan said. “Today was the first day he practiced with the team. He said he felt great some hopefully he feels like that for a couple days in a row. And if he does that then hopefully we’ll get him in.”

Ville Leino, who has missed two games with a lower-body injury. “Also skated in a non-contact jersey and the Sabres staff will continue to evaluate in throughout the week.


The Sabres were back on the ice after having their game Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes postponed due to incliment weather.

"You don’t want to put anyone in danger. Fans coming to the game, the workers coming to the arena to work, all those [people]," Nolan said. "The game of hockey is nice to watch, but we need to make sure we do it where everybody can get there safely."

A make-up date as yet to be announced.

Jhonas Enroth was expected to start that game and Nolan said he will play Thursday night against Florida.


Ryan Miller will have some company at the Winter Olympics in Sochi next month. Miller was named to Team USA on New Year’s Day and on Tuesday, three of his teammates were announced to national rosters.

Tallinder and Enroth will represent Sweden. Zemgus Girgensons will play for Team Latvia under the guidance of Ted Nolan, who also coaches the Latvian team.

WATCH: JHONAS ENROTH INTERVIEW

Miller was especially happy to hear his fellow netminder had been named to the Swedish team and said he would look forward to a potential goaltending duel against Enroth and Sweden.

“It’d be cool. It’d be definitely unique,” Miller said. “It’s not something many teams that I’ve seen have a chance to do. We’ll see how it works out, but it’d be nice.”


26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
9 Steve Ott – 22 Johan Larsson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
17 Linus Omark – 65 Brian Flynn – 82 Marcus Foligno
32 John Scott – 24 Zenon Konopka – 37 Matt Ellis
Red (Non-Contact) Jerseys: 23 Ville Leino – 19 Cody Hodgson

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

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Monday, 01.06.2014 / 2:08 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Tyler Myers is waiting for the phone to ring.

The 6-foot-8, 219-pound Buffalo Sabres defenseman faces a phone hearing Monday afternoon with the NHL Department of Player Safety for a hit on New Jersey Devils center Dainius Zubrus in Buffalo’s 2-1 win Saturday night.

Myers received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head at 7:02 of the third period. Zubrus remained in the game and practiced with the Devils on Monday.

“I don’t want to say too much until I have my phone call, but it’s one of those plays where [I was] being aggressive and I came out of it with a phone call,” Myers said after practice Monday at First Niagara Center. “So we’ll see what happens.”

Myers was suspended three games in March 2012 for checking Scott Gomez into the boards from behind.

The Department of Player Safety retains the right to make adjustments to the infraction upon review.

With Henrik Tallinder already out with an injury, the Sabres will have to lean on their depth on the blue line to eat up some minutes if Myers is suspended for any length of time.

“Every team has injuries and every team has to cover up for one another,” Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. “But when you lose big parts of your team, it means players have to play that much smarter.”


Sunday was a good day for Rochester Americans defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. He scored the game-winning goal in overtime to give Team Finland the gold medal over host Sweden at the World Junior Championship.

It’s the first time Finland has won the tournament since 2006.

“They’re probably pretty excited. It’s a big, huge thing for our country,” Sabres forward Ville Leino, a native of Finland, said.

READ KRIS BAKER'S WJC RECAP

Members of the Sabres organization were obviously pleased to see Ristolainen, the team’s top pick in 2013 (eighth overall) step up to decide the game.

“Ristolainen, that’s a pretty big goal for him. When you’re that age and when you score a big goal with your peer group, you get to the next level. He did his country proud and did us proud,” Nolan said. “When you’re a big player, you make big plays. Now the fans here and the organization have something to really look forward to.”

Nolan said that Ristolainen will return to the Amerks now that the tournament is complete.

Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov won the bronze medal. Grigorenko led Russia in points, recording five goals and three assists in seven games. He scored to help the Russians beat Canada in the third-place game.

What did Nolan think of Grigorenko’s performance at the World Juniors?

“There were some mixed reviews. That’s the problem with some young players – that consistent factor. He played great at moments and not so well at other moments,” Nolan said. “Certain players take a little bit longer to get that [consistency]. We have some players in this League that are like that so that’s what development’s all about. Once he gets that [consistency as part] of his arsenal, he’ll be a great player for us.”

WATCH TED NOLAN'S PRESS CONFERENCE

Grigorenko will return to Buffalo, but may not suit up for the Sabres in a game anytime soon. Nolan and president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine will meet to discuss Grigorenko’s future once the 19-year-old center returns to North America.

Nolan said they’re leaning toward sending Grigorenko back to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League so that he can work on developing the consistency that may be lacking from his game.

“It’s up to our organization to try to correct that. You don’t correct it by just giving things to players like that,” he said. “You make them earn it and you watch them do it on a consistent basis for a consistent amount of time. You don’t just do it for a week and say, ‘Hey, we’re all fixed now.’ It’s going to take some time to correct it.”

Zadorov will return to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, where he will compete for the Memorial Cup later this year.


Leino has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury but practiced with the team again on Monday. He worked as a member of the fourth line with John Scott, Zenon Konopka and Matt Ellis.

“I was pretty good. Going day-to-day, but I’m feeling better every day,” Leino said. “Tomorrow, we’ll see in the morning how it feels, but I’m feeling good and as long as it’s like that, I’m happy with it.”

There’s a chance he may not be ready for the team’s home game Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes at 7 p.m. Nolan said the coaching staff isn’t going to rush Leino back into the lineup.

“For only his second time in about seven days, eight days skating, he looked pretty good today but we didn’t push him to a point where we’re going to really going to aggravate his injury a little bit,” Nolan said. “We’ll give him one more day, we’ll push him a little bit tomorrow and we’ll see how he reacts to it. But he’s more on a day-to-day basis now than before.”


26 Matt MoulsonTyler Ennis – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
9 Steve Ott – 22 Johan Larsson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
17 Linus Omark – 65 Brian Flynn – 82 Marcus Foligno
32 John Scott – 24 Zenon Konopka – 23 Ville Leino – 37 Matt Ellis

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

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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POSTED ON Saturday, 01.04.2014 / 12:52 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

The Buffalo Sabres claimed center Zenon Konopka, a native of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., off of waivers on Friday. He'll play against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday at First Niagara Center, but there was a chance that we wouldn't make it to Buffalo in time.

Here, Sabres.com pieces together his adventure from Minnesota to Buffalo.

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POSTED ON Friday, 01.03.2014 / 3:53 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

With another injury to deal with, the Buffalo Sabres looked to the waiver wire for a veteran player to fill the void.

Right wing Drew Stafford is expected to miss some time with an upper-body injury and the Sabres announced Friday afternoon that they had claimed center Zenon Konopka off of waivers from the Minnesota Wild.

Konopka is a 6-foot, 213-pound centerman who has won 65.7 percent of his faceoffs this season (157-82). He’s also not afraid to drop the gloves, having racked up 55 penalty minutes – including seven fighting majors – in 36 games. He has one goal and one assist on the year. He’s recorded 29 points (12+17) through 323 career games in the NHL.

With the move being announced during Buffalo's practice at First Niagara Center, Konopka was obviously not with the team Friday.

Konopka was waived by the Wild because the team needed to make room for a third goaltender on the roster after Josh Harding had to miss the game against the Sabres on Thursday due to illness. Wild coach Mike Yeo explained the team’s reasoning that afternoon after the roster move had been made.

TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE FOR SATURDAY NIGHT VS. NEW JERSEY

“We had to make a move to get a goalie up here and that was the decision,” Yeo said “You look at the way our lines are right now, this wasn’t just an impulse thing where we said, ‘OK, let’s construct our lines like this.’ We want to give it a real chance to work and we think it can work with the four centermen that we have and that kind of puts Z on the outside a little bit there.”

Thursday was also Konopka’s 33rd birthday.

“Those types of guys are really good role models for the younger players and they last that long because they have that special ingredient to work and compete,” Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. “[Matt] Ellis is the same type of guy. You don’t have to be blessed with a lot of skill, but that certain amount of grit and that determination, that goes long ways.”


A native of nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., Konopka played hockey at an early age with Sabres center Matt Ellis. Ellis was raised in Welland, Ont.

“I’ve heard Teddy use the term to describe [captain Steve Ott] as a warrior. Well, this guy’s a warrior, too,” Ellis said. “I grew up with him, played minor hockey with him. He’s a guy that lays everything on the line night in and night out.”

WATCH: MATT ELLIS INTERVIEW

He made special note of Konopka’s competitive nature.

“He’s there to compete, loves to win and he’ll be a nice asset to this locker room,” Ellis said said. “I can’t say enough about the type of guy he is. He’s that one guy in our area, even in summer hockey, he hates to lose.”

Matt Moulson was a teammate of Konopka’s when both were on the New York Islanders in 2010-11. Konopka recorded a career-high nine points (2+7) and 307 penalty minutes in 82 games that year.

“He competes hard. He’ll do anything for the team. He’s a great team guy. He always has your back,” Moulson said. “He takes great pride in his faceoffs and I know that’s something he works on all the time. That’s something we could definitely use. He’ll be a welcome addition.”


There was a scoring change after the final horn sounded in Buffalo’s 4-1 loss to the Wild on Thursday. The Sabres’ late third-period goal, initially credited to Matt Ellis, was given to Tyler Myers.

“It is what it is,” Ellis said. “It was a mad scramble in front. I put it towards the net and [Myers] did a good job getting himself in a good position and it banked in off him.

“I think that’s the way our team needs to score goals. Our team needs to create chaos in front with bodies going to the net. We need to get on the board with a lot more of those workman-like, so-called ugly goals and whatnot.”


On the injury front, Nolan did not have an update on Stafford, who left the game Thursday night in the first period with an upper-body injury.

“It’s going to be a little while,” Nolan said.

Cody Hodgson, Henrik Tallinder and Cody McCormick, who are all out with injuries, were on the ice before practice, working with skating consultant Dawn Braid.

WATCH: TED NOLAN INTERVIEW

Those players and Kevin Porter, who is on injured reserve, aren’t expected to return to the lineup for at least a week. Porter and McCormick could be out longer.

Ville Leino missed the game against the Wild with a lower-body injury but Nolan hopes he’ll be ready to go against the Devils on Saturday.

“Ville’s pretty close. He’s going to be another game-time decision tomorrow,” Nolan said. “Hopefully he’s in.”


26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
9 Steve Ott – 82 Marcus Foligno
32 John Scott – 37 Matt Ellis – 27 Matt D’Agostini
17 Linus Omark – 65 Brian Flynn – 22 Johan Larsson

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

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

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