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NOTEBOOK: PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE

Tuesday, 04.12.2011 / 5:07 PM / News
By Rob Crean  - Public Relations Director
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NOTEBOOK: PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE
Experience can go a long way in the National Hockey League, especially during playoff time.

Rob Niedermayer
The current Sabres’ roster has combined for nearly 700 games of NHL Playoff experience, led by Rob Niedermayer’s 109 career postseason outings.  The 17-year NHL veteran will be playing in the postseason for the 10th time in his career this year.  He has played in three Stanley Cup Finals (1996 with Florida, 2003 and 2007 with Anaheim) and won the Cup as a member of the Ducks in 2007.

A look at Buffalo’s roster shows 12 more players with at least 25 games of Stanley Cup Playoff experience in addition to Niedermayer.  Mike Grier has played in 94 postseason contests.  Jordan Leopold and Steve Montador were both members of the Calgary Flames team that advanced all the way to Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals.  Jochen Hecht, Jason Pominville, Tim Connolly, Paul Gaustad, Thomas Vanek, Ryan Miller and Derek Roy were all members of the Sabres teams that went to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals in 2006 and 2007, gaining valuable experience.  Grier was a member of the 2006 Sabres squad, as well. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum is 23-year-old Mike Weber, a veteran of 81 regular season NHL games and zero playoff appearances.  Weber will likely make his NHL playoff debut Thursday when Buffalo opens its Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series at Philadelphia.

We’ve got a chance, with an elite group of teams right now, to go chase a childhood dream right now and try to win a Stanley Cup. It’s pretty special and the intensity will be pretty high.” - Defenseman Mike Weber
“It’s really exciting,” Weber said.  “Just making the playoffs and being involved in the process of getting into the playoffs was pretty exciting, so I’m really looking forward to it.  I wish we were starting today – kinda tired of practice, ready to get after it here.  It’s very exciting and I think this is going to be a good matchup.”

Weber, who sits neat Pominville in the Sabres’ dressing room, said Pominville has been sharing stories with him about past playoff battles, including Buffalo’s 2006 series against the Flyers, which the Sabres won in six games.

Pominville has appeared in all 40 of Buffalo’s playoff games dating back to 2006 and shared his thoughts on what it takes to be successful in the postseason.

“Guys are going to have to play out of character,” Pominville said.  “If you’re a goal scorer, you’re going to have to do different things than what you normally do… be good in every area because every shift is important.  It’s not good to get overhyped, either.  You don’t want to get too excited or get nervous and not be able to do your job on the ice. I think focus is a big part of it.”

In addition to Weber, the other Sabres who have yet to appear in an NHL postseason contest include Jhonas Enroth, Chris Butler, Mark Mancari and Marc-Andre Gragnani.

Tyler Ennis battles with Boston's Zdeno Chara during the 2010 Playoffs (Photo: Bill Wippert)
Younger players such as Tyler Myers, Tyler Ennis, Nathan Gerbe, Patrick Kaleta and Andrej Sekera made their playoff debuts last season during the team’s six-game loss to Boston in the first round.

Head Coach Lindy Ruff said players without playoff experience won’t know what it’s like until the game starts. 

“(The intensity) is something that once you get in the game you get a feel for it.  Being in the Flyers’ building, you get another perspective on the whole thing.  It’s a whole different experience,” Ruff said. 

4/12 - Lindy Ruff Interview

The Flyers’ roster has accumulated a combined total of nearly 1,100 career playoff games, led by defenseman Chris Pronger’s 170 career games, due in large part to the team’s run to the Stanley Cup Finals last season.

Drew Stafford, who has 13 career playoff games under his belt, recognizes the amount of experience that the Flyers have, but also likes the mix of experience and youth on the Sabres.

“Their whole team went on that huge run last year so they’ve all had a taste of it, but we have a few guys in this room that have made it to the Conference Finals a few times.  We have the experience in here along with a lot of new guys, fresh faces who are getting their first taste of playoff experience.  Guys are excited, guys are looking forward to it, and we’re just looking forward to getting going,” Stafford said.

While Weber is a newcomer to the NHL’s second season, he is well aware of its magnitude.

“We’ve got a chance, with an elite group of teams right now, to go chase a childhood dream right now and try to win a Stanley Cup,” said Weber.  “It’s pretty special and the intensity will be pretty high.”



Tim Connolly and Andrej Sekera were both on the ice for practice Tuesday after missing Monday’s session.  Connolly had been given an extra day off to rest while Sekera is coming back from an upper body injury that caused him to miss the final two games of the regular season.

“It felt good to be out on the skates after a while.  It’s progressing everyday and hopefully it will get better and better.  I am doing everything I can to get ready for Game 1,” Sekera said.   

While Ruff acknowledged that Connolly was “good” and Sekera “got through (practice) good,” he did not comment further on his lineup for Game 1 of the series.

SCHEDULE

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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