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POSTED ON Wednesday, 02.5.2014 / 2:30 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

Ryan Miller will start in goal for the Buffalo Sabres in their final home game before the Olympic break Wednesday night but Tyler Myers will not play due to injury.

The game at First Niagara Center against the Pittsburgh Penguins can be seen nationally on NBCSN at 7:30 p.m. and will feature 11 athletes headed to Sochi, Russia for the Olympic Games.

Miller (United States), Zemgus Girgensons (Latvia), Jhonas Enroth (Sweden) and Henrik Tallidner (Sweden) will represent the Sabres in Sochi as well as interim coach Ted Nolan, who will be behind the bench for Team Latvia.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are sending seven players to compete in the games including captain Sidney Crosby (Canada), who will also serve as the captain of Team Canada; Chris Kunitz (Canada); Evgeni Malkin (Russia); Jussi Jokinen (Finland); Olli Maatta (Finland); Paul Martin (U.S.) and Brooks Orpik (U.S.).


Penguins coach Dan Bylsma is the head coach for Team USA and Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato is on his Olympic staff.

Miller is vying for a starting role with Team USA and has another opportunity to show Bylsma first-hand what he can do.

However, he’ll be without Myers, one of the Sabres ice-time leaders, in front of him.

Myers will miss the game with a lower-body injury he sustained in the second period Monday night against the Edmonton Oilers.

“It doesn’t look very good for tonight,” Nolan said. “We’ll see. Hopefully he’ll be ready tomorrow.”

Nolan said he won’t make any changes at forward, so Zenon Konopka and Ville Leino will be healthy scratches for the second straight game.

Chad Ruhwedel, a healthy scratch against the Oilers, will be back in on defense. Against Pittsburgh, which leads the Eastern Conference, Ruhwedel is going to try and simplify his game.

“Stay within yourself. Stay within your own game,” he said. “For me, it’s being sound defensively and getting the puck out of the zone, making a good first pass. That’s what I’m going to try to do tonight.”

Crosby enters the game having been held scoreless in back-to-back contests for only the second time all season and for just the third time in 92 games dating back to the beginning of last season. MILLER VS. CROSBY FEATURE

The Sabres would like to keep Crosby off the scoresheet, but historically, have had a lot of trouble doing so. He’s collected at least one point in 22 of 24 games against Buffalo and is currently on a 16-game point streak against the Sabres that dates back to Dec. 29, 2007.

He has nine goals and 17 assists over that span. He’s also recorded points in each of his 13 visits to Buffalo (8+12).

Crosby leads the League with 75 points (27+48) and the Penguins are the highest scoring team in the East. Nolan will look to bring the battle to them.


“I think sometimes, if we’re too careful, that’s when you get hurt,” he said. “If you want to sit back and try to play a strong defensive game against a pretty potent team, you’re playing a little bit afraid, you’re sitting back a little too much versus you have nothing to lose.

“Let’s just try to attack them as hard as we can and force them and take our chances in the offensive zone. We still have 100-something feet to make up for that one mistake.”

After the game, the Sabres travel to Ottawa for a game Thursday night against the Senators. Then the team is off until they play again on Feb. 25 against Carolina.

Some players nursing injuries will take the break to heal up and Drew Stafford, who has missed time with an upper-body injury, hopes the team can go into the break on a high note.

“Coming back from Colorado, we wanted to have a little bit of a response against Edmonton. Unfortunately it didn’t work out the way we wanted, but I thought the effort was there,” he said. “We’re just going to try and carry that battle, compete, into tonight against one of the top teams in the League and hopefully give them some sort of run for their money.”

17 Linus Omark – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
84 Philip Varone – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 65 Brian Flynn
32 John Scott – 37 Matt Ellis – 82 Marcus Foligno

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 52 Alexander Sulzer
20 Henrik Tallinder – 5 Chad Ruhwedel
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

POSTED ON Tuesday, 02.4.2014 / 2:56 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Sabres interim coachTed Nolan received some potentially good news regarding the status of defenseman Tyler Myers on Tuesday.

Myers, who left the team’s game on Monday with a lower-body injury, may be ready to play Wednesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Myers did not participate in practice Tuesday morning at First Niagara but Nolan said that the prognosis wasn’t as serious as they thought after the game.

“It’s a lot better than we thought. It’s more of a day-to-day situation. He was moving around pretty good today and hopefully he moves around real good tomorrow [so] he gets to play,” Nolan said. “He could play tomorrow.”

Miker Weber also missed practice but Nolan thinks he should be able to play as well and Chad Ruhwedel, a healthy scratch against the Oilers on Monday, will be in the lineup as well.

The Sabres and Penguins face off at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The game can be seen nationally on NBCSN.


The team’s plan is to send Ruhwedel to Rochester during the Olympic break. He may or not return to the Sabres once they resume play on Feb. 25.

Nolan said Ryan Miller will start against Pittsburgh and may even start in Ottawa on Thursday.

For Miller, the Penguins game is another chance to impress Team USA coach Dan Bylsma, who will be behind the Pittsburgh bench.

“I have to perform at a high level. In hockey, it’s always [about] how you perform,” he said. “I felt like I played a decent game in their building last time and I just want to show that I can be consistent and do it again. Plus it’s a game where I need to bounce back. I was on the bench last game and it’s not very fun.”

Miller was pulled after the second period Saturday afternoon in Colorado after the Avalanche scored five goals on 27 shots. He’s looking to rebound against the highest-scoring team in the Eastern Conference.


“It’s a good team to show off against,” Nolan said. “Pittsburgh is probably one of the most explosive teams in the National Hockey League and Ryan’s probably one of the best goaltenders in the National Hockey League. So he’s going to have a pretty good pretest before the Olympics,” Nolan said.

Miller said he hasn’t received any indication as to what his role on the national team will be, but is preparing like he is going to play every game.

Henrik Tallinder will represent Team Sweden along with goaltender Jhonas Enroth. While Tallinder is looking forward to traveling to Sochi, his focus right now is on the Sabres’ two remaining games.


“You want to get going, but at the same time, you have to focus on your job,” Tallinder said. “Every game, we have to approach it like it’s do or die. Every game now, it’s a battle for us to make sure we’re ready for every game.”

Zemgus Girgensons, who will play for Team Latvia at the Olympics, practiced at center once again and will remain there for the foreseeable future after Nolan had some conversations with general manager Tim Murray.

“I was kind of flip-flopping back-and-forth when I first got here. I put him at center ice because I thought he would be real good [at] center ice. Then you talk to some people and you have that thought, that maybe he’s a power forward. It kind of switched my mind a little bit too,” Nolan explained.

“But then Tim comes in, who’s had a tremendous amount of experience in looking at this. So we kind of go back to sometimes your initial thoughts are probably some of the best. We’ll try him at that position.”

17 Linus Omark – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 27 Matt D’Agositni – 23 Ville Leino
84 Phil Varone – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 65 Brian Flynn
82 Marcus Foligno – 24 Zenon Konopka – 37 Matt Ellis
Red, Non-Contact: 8 Cody McCormick

10 Christian Ehrhoff – 52 Alexander Sulzer
20 Henrik Tallinder – 4 Jamie McBain
32 John Scott – 5 Chad Ruhwedel

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

POSTED ON Monday, 02.3.2014 / 1:49 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

Drew Stafford will return to the lineup Monday night and Jhonas Enroth will start in goal as the Buffalo Sabres prepare to take on the Edmonton Oilers at 7 p.m. at First Niagara Center.

Linus Omark will be in the lineup against his former club as well, playing on a line with Stafford and Tyler Ennis. Buffalo acquired the 26-year-old forward from Edmonton for a conditional sixth-round pick in December.

The Sabres played another team with a talented crop of young forwards in the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday in Denver. After a 7-1 defeat, Buffalo is looking to come out with a better effort.

“Playing against Colorado the other night, [that was] one of the best forward performances that we’ve played against, I think,” Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers said after the Sabres’ morning skate. “With looking at [Edmonton’s] lineup and knowing some of the guys on the other side there, they’re young and have a lot of good team speed up front. I’m sure it’s a similar-type game that they’re going to bring and we’re going to have to be much more ready than we were the other night.”


Stafford, who said he’s ready to go after missing four games with an upper-body injury, said that against Edmonton, it’s important to stay out of the penalty box.

“Against these guys, they probably feed off their offense and their power play if they get going,” he said. “Skilled players, they more chances you give them, the more opportunities they’re going to get and that’s something we’re going to try and control.”

Before re-aggravating an injury on Jan. 18 that had kept him out for four games earlier last month, Stafford had put up five points (3+2) in four games.

Ville Leino and Zenon Konopka will be scratched at forward.

“We have to make some changes. Things didn’t go so well last game so when that happens, change is evident,” Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said.

Leino has nine assists in 37 games this season, but has yet to find the back of the net.

“On his side, he had played in spurts. He hit a couple goal posts and he’s just missing here, just missing there,” Nolan said. “When those things just keep missing, you look at the overall picture, [it looks like] that he’s not playing very well at all. But truth is, he has played in spurts and he must didn’t click in.

“Drew, he comes back and boom, pucks go in for him. So if that happens with Ville one day, you never know what you have.”


Chad Ruhwedel
will be the team’s healthy scratch on defense. Nolan, however, said that he’s actually been impressed by Ruhwedel’s play of late.

“As I mentioned to Chad this morning. Don’t read into any of it,” Nolan said. “As I mentioned to the players, you just worry about your own play and let all the other outside factors, you don’t know why you’re not playing – but it has nothing to do with his lack of play. He’s played pretty well. So there’s other things behind it.”

Captain Steve Ott did not participate in the morning skate. Center Cody McCormick, who is on injured reserve, skated with the team and for the first time since sustaining his injury on Dec. 17, did not wear a red non-contact jersey.

17 Linus Omark – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
84 Phil Varone – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 65 Brian Flynn
32 John Scott – 37 Matt Ellis – 82 Marcus Foligno

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

1 Jhonas Enroth
30 Ryan Miller

POSTED ON Sunday, 02.2.2014 / 3:16 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Coming off a tough 7-1 loss Saturday night in Colorado, the Buffalo Sabres shook up some of their lines at practice at First Niagara Center on Sunday.

Drew Stafford is set to return to the lineup Monday night against the Edmonton Oilers from an upper-body injury that’s kept him out for the past four games. He skated on a line with Tyler Ennis at center and Linus Omark on the left wing.

Stafford sustained an upper-body injury on Jan. 2 in Minnesota and missed four games because of it. In his first four games back, he recorded three goals and two assists. He re-aggravated the injury on Jan. 25 in Columbus and has been out ever since.

He’s hoping he can pick up right where he left off.

“I felt as though I was getting going and unfortunately, a little bit of a setback and then another setback as well,” he said after practice. “Dealing with those two setbacks, it’s tough, but at the same time, you just have to keep at it and back now, hopefully, finish strong here before the break. And then it would be nice to get on that break as well and make sure it’s totally 100-percent feeling good.”

He may have been ready to go against Colorado, but the team decided to give him a few more days to make sure he was 100 percent. He took some bumps in practice Sunday afternoon from 6-foot-8, 259-pound forward John Scott.

“You never know what can happen, but at the same time, it helps your mindset a little bit, it puts your mind at ease when you battle against a not exactly small human being like John Scott,” Stafford said. “He was my tester. If I can do well against him – at least somewhat well – he was kind of throwing me around like a rag doll a little bit like that, but it’s feeling pretty well.”

Getting back a player like Stafford who’s capable of producing points should help ease the loss of leading scorer Matt Moulson, who could be out until after the Olympic break after sustaining an upper-body injury Thursday night.

“Right now we haven’t got enough depth to lose a guy like Drew and Matty at the same time. At least we get one of them back,” Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said.

Omark has been a healthy scratch the past three games and Nolan said the 26-year-old forward will play against his former team on Monday. The Sabres acquired Omark from the Oilers on Dec. 19 for a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Omark is feeling a little extra motivation heading into the game.

“I would be lying if I said, ‘No.’ But of course, it’s going to be a fun game,” Omark said. “I know a lot of guys on that team, so hopefully we can win.”

Jhonas Enroth will start in goal against the Oilers. He is 1-10-5 this season, but isn’t thinking much about personal wins and losses.

“I just need to prepare myself and get ready,” he said. “Obviously I can’t score any goals or anything like that so I just need to focus on my job and that’s to try to save as many pucks as possible.”

Nolan also decided to practice with more size at the center ice position. Zemgus Girgensons practiced in the middle on a line with Philip Varone on the left and Brian Flynn on the right. All three have played center this season, but for now it looks like Girgensons will pivot that line.

“He’s almost like a natural center iceman,” Nolan said. “He likes to skate and with our injury count right now, it’s a great time to test him. He’s very comfortable in that position. That’s where he grew up playing so we’ll probably put him in that position and see how he does.”

While Girgensons will likely play center for Team Latvia under Nolan’s watch at the Winter Olympics, his move back there with only three games to go before the break only has to do with putting players in position where they can best help the Sabres succeed.

“We’re thinking about what’s going to make this team better,” Nolan said.

Enroth, who will play for Team Sweden at the Olympics, broke in some new gear at practice Sunday. He wore a new glove, a new blocker, new pads and a new mask that celebrates his native country.

“The pads and the gear are really good these days so it just needs one or two practices and then they’re ready to go so they’re fine,” he said.

Ryan Miller is also breaking in some equipment for Team USA. He’s donned his new Olympic mask and a new red, white and blue blocker for two straight practices.

He and Enroth spent some time at the end of practice comparing equipment at center ice.

Ville Leino and Marcus Foligno worked as the fourth forwards on different lines at practice. In addition to doing their own line work with Cody McCormick – who skated in a red non-contact jersey – Leino was in white with Steve Ott, Cody Hodgson and Matt D’Agostini while Foligno was in gray with Scott, Zenon Konopka and Matt Ellis.

17 Linus Omark – 63 Tyler Ennis – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 19 Cody Hodgson – 27 Matt D’Agostini – Ville Leino
84 Phil Varone – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 65 Brian Flynn
32 John Scott – 24 Zenon Konopka – 37 Matt EllisMarcus Foligno
Red Non-Contact: Cody McCormick

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

30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth

POSTED ON Friday, 01.31.2014 / 3:05 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

DENVER – The Buffalo Sabres could be without their leading scorer until after the Olympic break.

Left wing Matt Moulson left the team’s game Thursday night in Phoenix with 6:05 to play in the third period after taking a whack with a stick to his upper-body.

At the team hotel in Denver on Friday, Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said that Moulson could be out until the NHL schedule resumes on Feb. 25. Buffalo plays four more games before the Winter Olympic break.

The Sabres are set to play the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday at the Pepsi Center at 9 p.m. EST.

“It doesn’t look like it’s really too, too serious. If he’s a fast mender, you never know,” Nolan said.

The Sabres are not only losing a valuable scorer, but a leader on the team as well.

Moulson is tops on the team in goals (15) and points (33) through 51 games this season. With Christian Ehrhoff out of the lineup due to an illness on Thursday, Moulson served as an alternate captain in his stead.

“He’s really buying into what we’re doing here and he’s leading the team. He wore an ‘A’ on his sweater last night for that reason,” Nolan said. “Right now, it’s going to be a big loss for us, but like every other team, someone has to step up. There will be an opportunity for someone else.”

The team will look to Brian Flynn to fill Moulson’s shoes on a line with Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons. Flynn had been up and down the lineup the past few games, playing with Philip Varone and Marcus Foligno as well as with Zenon Konopka and Matt Ellis.

“He can go from the fourth line up to your top line. He’s very versatile so we could look at the possibility of putting him in there for a game or two,” Nolan said.

Drew Stafford will miss his fourth game in a row Saturday night with an upper-body injury. Ehrhoff might be ready to play against Colroado.

The team did not practice Friday morning, but had a stretching session at the hotel. After a late flight to Denver from Phoenix, Nolan talked with the trainers and medical staff and felt it was best to keep the team off the ice.

“Today was one of those days that if we only had a little more time, I’m quite sure we would’ve practiced. But with the team getting in so late and the games so numerous, rest is a little bit more important right now,” Nolan said. “…It’s a normal day except we didn’t hop on the ice for a half hour.”

POSTED ON Thursday, 01.30.2014 / 3:48 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Matt D’Agostini seemed to be hitting his stride when he found himself forced out of the lineup.

An upper-body injury caused him to leave the Buffalo Sabres’ game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 15 after playing only 2:19.

He’s set to return Thursday night after missing the past six games when the Sabres take on the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena. Sabres fans in Western New York and Southern Ontario can watch the game at 9 p.m. on either MSG or Bell.

In the four games he played before the injury, D’Agostini recorded two goals and two assists while playing on a line with center Cody Hodgson and center Steve Ott.

Although he was happy that the points were finally starting to come for him, he was more pleased with the way his all-around game had started to take shape.

“It’s not the points that I’m concerned about. It’s just skating hard on pucks. My legs were really coming around. I was feeling really good out there,” D’Agostini said after the team’s morning skate. “We had some good games. We established a good forecheck and we got our chances and goals from that. I’m just hoping to get back to the same thing I was doing.”

D’Agostini took the morning skate on Tuesday against the Washington Capitals, but did not play.

“He was almost ready to go last game, but we decided a couple of more days wouldn’t hurt,” Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. “So he’s ready to go tonight.”

Ville Leino has since moved up to that line and after a strong third period against Washington, Nolan told the media he’ll likely keep Leino there.

The Sabres must make a roster move in order to activate D’Agostini from injured reserve.

Nolan said that the defensive lineup will be made just before the game. He said a few defensemen were feeling under the weather, including alternate captain Christian Ehrhoff, who was the only player not to participate in the morning skate.

Drew Stafford skated with the team and Nolan said he is close to returning from an upper-body injured that’s sidelined him for two games. Cody McCormick also made the trip and practiced in a red non-contact jersey.

Ryan Miller is expected to start in goal. His career numbers against Phoenix are his best against any team. He’s 5-0-0 in his career when facing the Coyotes with a 0.98 goals against average and a .966 save percentage.

John Scott and Linus Omark will be scratched at forward.

The Sabres have won their last three games in Phoenix, with the last loss coming on Jan. 21, 2008. They’re 6-3-1 in their last 10 games against the Coyotes and 6-4-0 on the road.

POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.28.2014 / 2:11 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

Coming off a 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road Monday night, the Buffalo Sabres are looking for a better result Tuesday at home against the Washington Capitals.

The Sabres host the Capitals at First Niagara Center at 7:30 p.m. The game can be seen nationally on NBCSN.

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan will make a few lineup changes for the game.

John Scott will be in for Linus Omark on the fourth line and Alexander Sulzer will replace Jamie McBain on defense. Jhonas Enroth will start in goal.

When asked about McBain and his play against Pittsburgh, Nolan spoke about how he wants his team to play the same way every game, regardless of the opponent. To improve in that regard, he’s looking for a more consistent effort from each player.

“I just want to see better. As every player on this team, you’ve got to be better. There are a couple others that were in the same boat but the bottom line is we have to be better,” he said. “There are just no other ways to put it, especially with the team that we have.

“We can’t afford one or two bad blunders and turnovers and not concentrating. This is a 60-minute game and we have to play that way all the time and if we don’t, we’re going to get ourselves in trouble no matter how good our goaltending is.”

The Sabres held a players-only meeting after the loss in Pittsburgh that lasted almost 10 minutes. Captain Steve Ott said after the morning skate Friday that they revered the Penguins a little too much and need to correct that moving forward into the game against the Capitals.

“We had a little talk. Obviously we’re trying to better our team here as well on a daily basis. They’re such a good team in aspect of the players and personnel that they have but you can respect your opponent but you can’t fear them,” he said. “I thought we were a little gun-shy to start that game, almost in awe – a little bit of an awe factor. You can’t have that mindset.”

With that mindset also comes the need to play a more physical, desperate game. Alternate captain Henrik Tallinder addressed that after the morning skate and also said that it’s up to the veteran players to push for more accountability.

“We have to come in with a lot more grit and a lot more determination into a game like last night,” Tallinder said. “To be able to get games going or get the team going, you have to play physical and be a little bit more competitive than we were last night.”

Buffalo is looking to move past the game in Pittsburgh and focus on putting in a good effort against Washington. It’s the second game of five for the Sabres over an eight-day stretch.

“It wasn’t a good game overall for us, so we’re trying to put that behind us and focus on Washington tonight,” Sabres center Cody Hodgson said. “They’re another skilled, top-end team that we need to keep in check and figure out how to generate some offense.”

The Sabres have not allowed a power-play goal in their past four games and are 9-for-9 during that stretch. Ott credited the work assistant coach Joe Sacco has done with the penalty killers both on the ice and during video sessions.

“[Continuing] to keep short, aggressive shifts has been a key to our penalty kill as of late,” Ott said. “I think you’ve seen us all pressuring in certain situations and I think we’re starting to really feel like we’re reading off each other a lot better. If one guy goes to pursue pressure, they’re all going.”

POSTED ON Monday, 01.27.2014 / 2:41 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

PITTSBURGH – Visiting teams don’t typically have a lot of success at Consol Energy Center.

On home ice, the Pittsburgh Penguins have gone 14-1 in their past 15 games. They’re 39-10 at home over the past two seasons and no team has more wins at home during that stretch.

However, in the past two seasons, only three teams have beaten the Penguins twice at Consol Energy Center: the Boston Bruins, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres won on both April 2 and 23, 2013.

Buffalo hopes to pick up their first victory in Pittsburgh this season Monday night.

“That’s an understatement that tonight will be a challenge,” Sabres defenseman Chad Ruhwedel said after the team's morning skate. “They’re a quality hockey team, a lot of really good players on that side. But we played really well the other night in Columbus and we’re just going to try to keep the ball rolling.”

The game can be seen nationally on NBCSN at 7:30 p.m.

Drew Stafford will not play with an upper-body injury. He missed four games earlier this month with the same injury and Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said after the morning skate that Stafford re-aggravated it Saturday night in Columbus. Nolan doesn't expect Stafford to miss as many games this time around.

Before the game Saturday, Stafford had been on quite a roll. He recorded three goals and two assists in the three previous games.

Linus Omark is back in for the Sabres but Ville Leino will likely take Stafford’s spot on a line with Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis.

Ryan Miller will start in goal for the Sabres. Nolan’s reasoning is simple: Go with your best goaltender against the best team in the Eastern Conference.

“I just know how good he is and you play him as often as you can,” Nolan said. “You look at, especially this year going into the Olympics and monitoring our play time between both goaltenders. If you look at Miller’s numbers lately, it’s been pretty effective. He’s a little bit more well rested and in return, he’s playing much better.”

After taking his usual reps during the team’s morning skate at Consol Energy Level, Miller skated down to the other end of the ice and started working with the forwards. One by one, each forward skated in on a breakaway. The extra work was for a good reason.

The Penguins are 4-0 in the shootout this season. They’ve won nine-straight shootouts and 14 of their last 15. Since Feb. 26, 2011, Pittsburgh has won 22 of 25 shootouts.

The Sabres are 6-4 in the shootout this season.

John Scott and Alexander Sulzer are expected to be the team’s healthy scratches.

Nolan played 18 games for the Penguins during the 1985-86 and shared a story with the media about Mario Lemieux, who was only 20 at the time.

“I remember sitting down next to Mario and they had a poster night. I asked him to sign it and he asked, ‘For who?’ And I said, ‘To me,’” Nolan said laughing. “And I still have it at home. It says, ‘To Teddy.’ That’s it.”

Lemieux finished that season, his second in the NHL,with 48 goals and 93 assists.He finished second in scoring to Wayne Gretzky, who had 215 points – or 74 more than Lemieux.

POSTED ON Saturday, 01.25.2014 / 2:16 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@chrisryndak) / THE MORNING SKATE

COLUMBUS – The last time the Buffalo Sabres called up Chad Ruhwedel, he didn’t play in a game. However, he’ll be in Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets when the two teams face off at Nationwide Arena at 7 p.m.

Ruhwedel was recalled from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League after practice on Friday and made the trip to Columbus with the team. He’s looking forward to the opportunity to show the Sabres front office and coaching staff what he can do and said he received some good advice from Amerks captain Drew Bagnall before he left.

“He actually texted me saying, ‘Make sure you dance with the girl that brought you to the dance,’” Ruhwedel said after the team’s morning skate in Columbus. “So just do what you did that got you here and that’s why I’m here – from what I was doing in the American League and I’m just going to try to keep doing the exact same thing.”

Ruhwedel, 23, leads all Amerks defensemen with four goals and 17 points this season, his first full season as a pro. He played seven games with the Sabres last season and was primarily paired with Mike Weber.

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan is hoping Ruhwedel’s ability to move the puck up ice quickly with a good first pass will help bolster the team’s defense and set up some offense.

“Today’s his day,” Nolan said. “One thing about him, he can skate and we need good puck-moving defensemen. Everybody looks for them. He’ll have his opportunity tonight.”

Nolan also said it’s possible that Ruhwedel could see some time on the power play.

The Sabres are also hoping to snap the Blue Jackets’ eight-game winning streak. The two teams met on Jan. 18 in Buffalo with Columbus coming out on top 4-3 in the shootout.

“Confidence is a wonderful thing, when you get on that roll and you believe you can win. Right now they’re on a good streak. They believe all stuff they’re doing is working,” Nolan said. “One thing I admired about them the last time playing them is their work ethic. They might be having some breaks and their confidence is good, but you have no confidence if you don’t work.”

Phil Varone will play in his second career game Saturday night. He made his NHL debut Thursday, played 10:36 and recorded an assist while centering a line that featured Marcus Foligno and Brian Flynn on the wings.

He said he’s feeling more comfortable now than he did on Thursday.

“Getting a game under your belt, a couple practices, you kind of get the feel a little bit of what you can do to incorporate your game into the NHL,” he said. “I feel good. I don’t feel the way I did two days ago, so hopefully that’ll translate on the ice.”

Ryan Miller is expected to start in goal. Captain Steve Ott and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff did not skate, but Nolan said they’ll play against Columbus. Center Tyler Ennis, who missed practice on Friday, will also be ready to go, according to Nolan.

Forwards Linus Omark and John Scott and defenseman Alexander Sulzer will be the team’s healthy scratches.

POSTED ON Friday, 01.24.2014 / 3:15 PM ET
By Chris Ryndak - (@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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