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SABRES-RANGERS MORNING SKATE UPDATE

Wednesday, 03.30.2011 / 1:35 PM
By Rob Crean - Public Relations Director / BEYOND THE BOARDS
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BEYOND THE BOARDS
SABRES-RANGERS MORNING SKATE UPDATE

The Sabres will shuffle the deck tonight as injuries will cause a couple of lineup changes when Buffalo takes the ice against the New York Rangers at 7 p.m.

Jochen Hecht will be sidelined by the same upper body injury that has caused him to miss nine of the last 13 games, plus the second and third periods of last night’s game against Toronto, according to Head Coach Lindy Ruff.

“I think these are the games that are fun to play. You’ve got to have fun playing them. You’ve got to go after it. We’re not going to change our style; our style has got us to where we’re at right now." - Lindy Ruff on tonight's game vs. the Rangers
Ruff also confirmed that Mike Grier will be out of the lineup and, as a result, Matt Ellis has been recalled from Portland of the American Hockey League.  Grier aggravated his knee Saturday night against New Jersey and missed last night’s game.  Ellis has played eight games for the Sabres this season.

One other significant change will be the addition of Marc-Andre Gragnani, who will quarterback the Buffalo power play tonight. 

“Marc is going to go in and play. I really feel that we need somebody on the back end that can quarterback our power play in Leopold’s absence,” Ruff said. 

With Jordan Leopold missing the last two games – and expected to miss the rest of the regular season – the Sabres have not scored a power play goal in his absence.

“It could have made a difference late in the game (against Toronto) for us,” Ruff said of the power play.  “We’re just going to play who we think can help us win. I don’t want to wait two or three games. I think it’s important right now if we have one or two power plays… (Gragnani) has had a great year down there (in Portland) quarterbacking their power play, and I just feel that he could give that unit a boost.  He’s a great passer. He might be as good a passer that we’ll have from the back end.”

Marc-Andre Gragnani
Gragnani was held scoreless in the three games he played for Buffalo in January, but leads all AHL defensemen in scoring with 60 points (12-48-60) in 63 games this season.  Of his 60 points, 25 (4-21-25) have come with the man advantage.

“I’m happy to be here and I’ve got to make the power play work and help the guys to score goals… I think it’s a matter of making the right decision out there, sometimes it’s taking a shot, sometimes it’s faking a shot and passing to the other guys,” Gragnani said of his approach to quarterbacking the power play.

In addition to being one of Portland’s top two scorers, along with Mancari, Gragnani also leads the team in plus/minus with a +22 rating, which speaks to his effectiveness in 5-on-5 play.

As for the Sabres' opponent tonight, the Rangers come into the contest leading Buffalo by two points in the Eastern Conference standings and have gone 6-0-1 in their last seven games.

“I think it will be tight.  I don’t see them giving up a lot, so in our case, we have to take better care of the puck than we did last night,” Ruff said.  “I think these are the games that are fun to play. You’ve got to have fun playing them. You’ve got to go after it. We’re not going to change our style; our style has got us to where we’re at right now.  I've told the team, ‘get on your toes, be ready to play, we’ll play our game.’”

Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella’s club is playing the first of back-to-back games tonight.  They will play the Islanders in Long Island tomorrow, but Tortorella is focused only on tonight’s game.
 
“I’m not even thinking of the back-to-back, I’m thinking of the Buffalo team.  Whatever games come our way, that’s the game we’re thinking about.  I think Buffalo is going to be better tonight than they were yesterday, so it’ll be a tough game for us, so this is the one we’re thinking about,” Tortorella said.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82