Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

With Sabres overhaul coming, who should return to Buffalo next season?

By John Vogl

BOSTON -- One oft-asked question during our pregame Sabres chats (of which only two remain) is who should be on the roster next season. Obviously, there will be a lot of turnover for the last-place team, and everyone has an opinion on who'll still be around when the puck drops for 2014-15.

Based on contract status, play and tradeability from Thursday night's roster, I'm guessing on the following opening-night returnees, in numerical order: Jhonas Enroth, Mark Pysyk, Chad Ruhwedel, Mike Weber, Cody Hodgson, Drew Stafford, Zemgus Girgensons, Michal Neuvirth, Rasmus Ristolainen, Tyler Myers, Tyler Ennis and Brian Flynn.

The biggest omission is Christian Ehrhoff, whom I can see getting traded.

Take your pick on who will be back next year.

Sabres call up Knapp for first time, likely to set record for most NHL goalies in a season

By John Vogl

BOSTON -- The Sabres' goalie wheel has finally landed on Connor Knapp. Not only will he dress for an NHL game for the first time, he'll also put Buffalo in the record book.

Knapp, selected in the sixth round of the 2009 draft, is expected to back up Matt Hackett on Saturday when the Sabres visit the Boston Bruins. When he appears on the lineup sheet, he'll become the ninth netminder to dress for Buffalo this season. That will be an NHL record, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Ryan Miller, Jhonas Enroth, Ryan Vinz, Jaroslav Halak, Michal Neuvirth, Nathan Lieuwen, Hackett and Andrey Makarov have also taken a spot in the Sabres' crease or on the bench. Makarov backed up Hackett in the previous two games, but the organization wanted him to play in Rochester this weekend as the Amerks attempt to earn a playoff spot.

Knapp, 23, has played for four teams this season: Greenville, Florida and Alaska of the ECHL, plus the Amerks. He made two starts for Rochester, losing both while putting up a 4.03 goals-against average and .873 save percentage. Knapp played for the Boston Junior Bruins in 2007-08.

Vote for your three stars

Tallinder ready to return for Sabres; Rangers looking to keep home ice

By John Vogl

NEW YORK -- Playing tonight is a matter of pride for Henrik Tallinder. The game means a lot more to the New York Rangers.

Tallinder says he's ready to return to the Buffalo blue line after a four-game injury absence.

"It’s just trying to finish what you started," Tallinder said after the morning skate in Madison Square Garden. "I’m just looking forward to playing again. You never like to be sitting out or being hurt. I’m just happy that my body feels healthy again."

Sabres coach Ted Nolan said he'll dress John Scott for the warm-up in case Tallinder isn't ready. Matt Hackett will start in goal for Buffalo. Zenon Konopka is expected to be a healthy scratch.

The Rangers head into their penultimate game in second place in the Metropolitan Division. With the new playoff format, that means home ice in the first round against the division's third-place team. Philadelphia and Columbus are both two points back of the Rangers.

"I could say if you get home ice it’s real good, and if you don’t it’s not that big of a deal," New York coach Alain Vigneault said with a grin. "Playing in front of your fans is always something special. We’ve got a possibility to get home ice, and we’re going to work real hard to get it.

"Right now we want to keep playing well so we feel good about our game. We want two points tonight."

Sabres Live: Pregame chat at 6:45 p.m., Sabres-Rangers updates at 7

Roster moves to help Amerks' playoff push

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres are going nowhere of course, playing out the string of their last-place season with their final three games (Thursday at New York, Saturday at Boston and here Sunday against the Islanders). The Rochester Amerks, meanwhile, have six games left in their desperate playoff push in the AHL and the parent club is going to be giving them some help for this weekend's key three-games-in-three-days-stretch.

The Amerks have a one-point lead and a game in hand on Rockford for the final spot in the AHL's Western Conference. They have a one-point lead and two games in hand on Charlotte. They host Toronto Friday, play Saturday at Hamilton and Sunday at Lake Erie. 

Here's the roster rundown on both ends of the Thruway in the wake of Thursday's practice in First Niagara Center:

1). Drew Stafford will play for the Sabres tomorrow night after missing the last four games with an undisclosed injury. Defenseman Henrik Tallinder (lower body) is a game-time decision after missing four straight and could also play. Sabres coach Ted Nolan has ruled Tyler Myers out for the final three games.

2). Forwards Johan Larsson and Nicolas Deslauriers were returned to Rochester today. Nolan said a defenseman should be heading to Rochester for the weekend as well, and that would likely be Mark Pysyk.

3). Nolan said Matt Hackett will start all three Buffalo games in goal and current Sabres backup Andrey Makarov will head to the AHL after backing up Hackett in New York. Amerks coach Chadd Cassidy told reporters in Rochester today "absolutely" when asked if Makarov could start all three weekend games.

4). Rasmus Ristolainen and Hackett both told me they expect to return to Rochester for the at least the final three games. Ristolainen told me he's just going day by day and isn't thinking past tomorrow in New York until he's told otherwise.

5). Nolan said the Sabres will have to get another backup for the final two games. He didn't know if the team would go outside the organization or flip current Amerks backup Connor Knapp to Buffalo.

Here's Nolan's audio from today with plenty of thoughts on the Amerks, Hackett, Jake McCabe and others.

Ted Nolan

Vote for your three stars

Sabres Live: Pregame chat at 6:30, Red Wings-Sabres updates at 7

Forty stitches later, Ehrhoff good to go tonight vs. Red Wings

By Mike Harrington

Christian Ehrhoff will play tonight against Detroit after the gruesome ear injury he suffered Sunday in Philly but there was plenty of laughter about it today in the Sabres' dressing room. The "Ear-hoff" catcalls were everywhere as reporters circled Ehrhoff's locker.

"I've gotten 'Ear-hoff' as the most common one I think,' Ehrhoff said. "When You have a situation like that the jokers come out pretty quick too. Obviously it hurt pretty much. I knew it was cut so I just went to the bench quickly and got it stitched up."

Ehrhoff tweeted pictures of the mangled ear and then the stitched one and they landed on Deadspin (Graphic warning if you click on the link here). Ehrhoff said he thought the photographers were Marcus Foligno, John Scott and a team trainer.

"I'm not really surprised," he said. "It's just something that gets spread around pretty quickly."

Ehrhoff said he had a similiar accident with his left ear when he was playing in Vancouver. He said he had no hearing loss but there was pain on the plane ride home.

"They wrapped something around my head to put pressure around it so it wouldn't swell too much," he said. "It was pretty painful and when I got home I got some painkillers and I was fine after that."

Nolan frustrated by NHL ruling on Flyers' Rinaldo

By Mike Harrington

Chad Ruhwedel and Nathan Lieuwen are both home nursing their concussions suffered Sunday in Philadelphia and Ted Nolan is understandably upset. Flyers pest Zac Rinaldo got a four-game suspension for his head shot on Ruhwedel and the Sabres -- who have seen much harsher bans go to Patrick Kaleta and John Scott this season -- aren't happy.

"Those type of hits have got to be out of our game," Nolan said. "You're not talking injuries where you knock a guy out for a week or two weeks. It can knock his career right off the tracks. We all see what concussions do to some of our athletes after the fact. It's a very serious thing and I think we've got to take it a lot more serious than four games."

Doesn't appear to be the thought coming out of Philly, where GM Paul Holmgren called the suspension "harsh." Nolan scoffed at that comment.

"Unfortunately something serious has to happen before rules come into place," Nolan said. "You just knock on wood that it doesn't come to that. You're talking someone's head, where the brain be permanently damaged. You're not talking an elbow or finger or those type of things. I believe we have to take it a lot more serious."

The Sabres have been unhappy with NHL decisions all season, of course. And Nolan said he and GM Tim Murray have already discussed the organization's stance going forward.

"Tim mentioned something to me about three games ago and he said, 'Tell me everything because we're going to complain about everything,' " Nolan said. "He's probably made a number of calls already so I'm quite sure he's been vocal on this one."

Quick roster update: Surplus of forwards

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres have just taken the ice for their morning skate in advance of tonight's game against the Red Wings, and here's a quick rundown of the latest roster moves:

---Defenseman Mark Pysyk has been called up from Rochester and will dress tonight. Christian Ehrhoff is on the ice but his status is uncertain after getting his ear sliced for 40 stitches Sunday. John Scott is on defense this morning.

---Goaltender Andrey Makarov has been recalled and will back up Matt Hackett tonight before returning to play for the Amerks Friday. We'll have to find out what the Sabres' plans are for the weekend.

---Luke Adam has been returned to Rochester because Marcus Foligno, Chris Stewart and Torrey Mitchell are all expected to return tonight. It will be Stewart's home debut. His two previous games for Buffalo were on the road, at Dallas and Tampa Bay.  Drew Stafford is also skating today, but as an extra.

The lines are currently:

Foligno-Ennis-Stewart
Hodgson-Girgensons-Mitchell
Deslauriers-Larsson-D'Agostini
Flynn-Ellis-Conacher

The defense pairs are: McCabe-Pysyk, Ehrhoff-Ristolainen, McBain-Scott. The concussed Chad Ruhwedel is obviously not here. Mike Weber is not on the ice either but he continues to nurse a foot problem and has taken morning skates off. 

Stay tuned for more after practice.

NHL Central Scouting keeps Sam Bennett as No. 1 draft prospect

By John Vogl

Sam Bennett remains No. 1 in the mind of NHL Central Scouting.

The league's prospect gurus released their final player rankings this morning, and Bennett topped the list. The 6-foot, 178-pound center also was No. 1 for Central Scouting's Midterm Rankings. Bennett recorded 36 goals and 91 points in 57 games with Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League, and he has five goals and nine points in seven playoff games.

"There are guys who elevate their game when it matters most, and you're looking to project which players will do that consistently at the next level," NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said. "The guys we have at the top all are in that mold, but when we look at Sam Bennett we see a guy who could potentially have a Jonathan Toews type of career."

The Sabres, who will finish last, have the best chance of winning the draft lottery next week, giving them the best shot at selecting first overall in June.

Defenseman Aaron Ekblad moved up one spot to second overall in the rankings. He had 23 goals and 53 points in 58 games with Barrie of the OHL. The Sabres are deep with defense prospects and need offense.

"I would describe Ekblad as one of the most solid NHL prospects you will find in this year's draft class," Marr said. "He is the best defenseman available and would be projected to vie for an NHL job a lot sooner than most."

Center Sam Reinhart moved from fourth in the midterm rankings to third in the final evaluations. The 6-foot, 185-pounder has 36 goals and 105 points in 60 games with Kootenay of the Western Hockey League. He's added five goals and 17 points in eight playoff appearances.

"I would compare Reinhart to Adam Oates," Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald said. "He's a very cerebral player who takes what's given to him. He probably has the highest hockey IQ of any player in this draft, and he knows where to go with the puck even before he even gets it."

Here is the complete list.

Rinaldo suspended four games for hit on Ruhwedel

by Amy Moritz

Philadelphia center Zac Rinaldo was suspended for four games by the NHL Department of Player Safety for his hit on Buffalo Sabres defenseman Chad Ruhwedel.

The hit came at 4:29 of the third period in Sunday's game. Rinaldo was given a match penalty for a hit to the head after he took out Ruhwedel who had just released a shot from the blueline.

In describing the offense in the NHL video, director of player safety Patrick Burke said that Rinaldo had a "poor angle of approach and does not make full body contact. Instead he launches into Ruhwedel with force, picking his head and making it the main point of contact."

Ruhwedel suffered a concussion on the play. Earlier today, Sabres coach Ted Nolan didn't say a whole about his feelings for a Rinaldo suspension.

“The league will take care of that but they’ve seen the same thing we’ve all seen so I’m quite sure they’ll do what’s required,” Nolan said.

 

Two concussions, a sliced ear and 13 injuries. The latest on the injury report

by Amy Moritz

It would be easier to list the players who are healthy. Such is the situation of the Buffalo Sabres roster.

They have 13 players who are injured, three of whom fell in Sunday night's loss at Philadelphia.

Goaltender Nathan Lieuwen and defensman Chad Ruhwedel both suffered concussions against the Flyers while Christian Ehrhoff took a puck to his ear that needed about 40 stitches, according to his graphic Twitter picture last night.

"We talked about that, is it bad luck? I’m not too sure. I don’t believe in luck but that just one of those things," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said after practice Monday afternoon. "That’s two concussions in one game last night. The injury before, Ehrhoff takes a puck to the ear. I mean how many chances does a puck have to hit the ear? It’s just one of those things. But we’ve got four games to go. Hopefully we can get through this unscathed and get a couple guys back."

Ah yes, the good news.

Marcus Foligno will be back after his knee injury turned into more of a bone bruise than any serious damage to the joint. Chris Stewart was visiting with the doctor after participating in practice and Torrey Mitchell feels ready to go, although he'll be a game-time decision, according to Nolan.

Matt Hackett will get the start while the Sabre will likely call up another goaltender from Rochester to back him up Tuesday when Detroit visits First Niagara Center.

For Nolan's comments and his full injury report take a listen:

Rinaldo's hit on Ruhwedel: You make the call

By Mike Harrington

PHILADELPHIA -- Chad Ruhwedel is concussed, the Buffalo Sabres are understandably upset and Flyers pest Zac Rinaldo is certainly in trouble with the NHL.

With Sunday's eventual 5-2 drubbing long over, Rinaldo foolishly took Ruhwedel out with a clear shot to the head. He earned a five-minute match penalty for his efforts and a meeting with Brendan Shanahan today.

“Those are the type of hits that we have to get rid of,” said coach Ted Nolan. “Those are not only dangerous hits but you’re also putting a fellow player in jeopardy of his career. Head injuries, concussions, we all know how serious they are and we still have guys with flying elbows going directly to the head.”

The NBC Sports Network video above doesn't really catch the hit live but it sure caught it with some replays. Bad news for Rinaldo for sure.

I think there's no chance the NHL will let Rinaldo off on this one, so I'm not even including no suspension as a choice in our poll below. Click to register your vote on how many games Shanahan will make Rinaldo sit and watch.

Replay live blog of Sabres-Flyers game; Flyers won, 5-2

McCabe gets to Wells Fargo Center a week earlier than he hoped

WfargoBy Mike Harrington

PHILADELPHIA -- Ever since the summer, Jake McCabe had been planning on being at the Wells Fargo Center in April. The problem is he got here a week too soon.

The Buffalo Sabres defenseman was hoping to play in the NCAA Frozen Four here next weekend but top-seeded Wisconsin got upset by North Dakota. McCabe gave up his senior season, signed with the Sabres and will instead play at the WFC tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers.

There's a big sign on the outside of the building advertising the tournament (it's on the left in the picture; click for a bigger view). McCabe saw it yesterday as the Sabres' team bus drove by the arena from the airport.

"Our whole year, our sights were set on coming to Philly for the Frozen Four and we had the team to do it," McCabe told me here today. "We had a great group. We had a 1 seed going in. We just didn't get the job done but we still accomplished a lot of good things. I made it here but just in a little differet fashion I guess. 

"I saw the sign yesterday. I kind of chuckled to myself and at the same time I was a little ticked off. But I'm here now so that's good."

McCabe certainly has been as good as advertised in his first two games. He's plus one against St. Louis and Detroit.

"He's done a great job," said Sabres defenseman and fellow Wisconsin alum Jamie McBain. "He's a big strong kid. You can tell his comfort the first two games. I went to Albany in the AHL. To jump into this league and the first game is against the Blues is not an easy situation. The poise that he handled it with, it's been a lot of fun to watch his first two games."

"I'm getting thrown right into it, that's for sure," McCabe said. "These last few games will really tell me what I need to do to be here next year. I'm going to have to go home, work my butt off in the summer to stay at the level I need to be so I can be in Buffalo."

Four forwards close to return but Nolan says Enroth, Neuvirth both likely done for year

By Mike Harrington

PHILADELPHIA -- The Sabres will continue to field a pretty thin lineup for tonight's game against the Flyers in Wells Fargo Center (reminder: 7:30 on NBCSN, not MSG). But Ted Nolan was optimistic after today's morning skate that could change in a big way as soon as Tuesday's visit by Detroit to First Niagara Center.

Marcus Foligno, Chris Stewart and Drew Stafford will all sit out again today but Foligno and Stewart skated fully. And even though Stafford did not take the ice, Nolan said there's a good chance all three could play against the Red Wings.

Seeing Foligno in particular was a shock. Nolan ruled him out for the season after the winger suffered what looked like  a serious knee injury Thursday in St. Louis.

"I was very shocked and quite surprised he was able to walk around yesterday," Nolan said. "So to see him on the ice is very encouraging news."

"It was pretty gross," Foligno said of the replay of him going to the ice. "If you had told me I was gonna be skating while I was falling, I would have told you I had no chance. It's felt pretty good. After coming off it was more of a stinger and bone bruise. No ACL, MCL, meniscus. I was able to keep icing it, days off and today back on the ice."

Nolan said forward Torrey Mitchell could return Tuesday, or Thursday in New York. So if the Sabres get some help up front, it could be a factor in their quest to avoid being the NHL's lowest-scoring team since expansion. And the return of all four players would mean Luke Adam, Johan Larsson and perhaps Nicolas Deslauriers can head to Rochester to help the Amerks' playoff quest, which got a big boost Saturday in Toronto.

So who IS up front tonight? The lines this morning looked like this:

Conacher-Ennis-Leino
Hodgson-Girgensons-D'Agostini
Adam-Larsson-Deslauriers
Scott-Flynn-Ellis.

As for other injured Sabres, Mike Weber is nursing a foot problem and didn't skate but will play tonight. Nolan also expects Tyler Myers to play this week. On the down side, the coach has pretty much ruled out the return of Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth this season.

"I don't see it unless there's another Marcus Foligno miracle happening with those two guys," Nolan said.

Nathan Lieuwen will get the start in goal tonight, while the Flyers will go with Steve Mason. Philly had an optional skate this morning after yesterday's 5-2 loss in Boston that dropped the Flyers to 1-4-2 in their last seven games.

Click below to hear today's sessions with the media by Nolan and Foligno:

Ted Nolan

Marcus Foligno

Quick NHL tour: Murray says lottery won't change, Leafs likely looking at big changes

By Mike Harrington

PHILADELPHIA -- The Sabres skate this morning at 11:30 in Wells Fargo Center so keep it here for the latest updates in advance of tonight's game against the Flyers. Here's a quick tour of some NHL notes.

---In today's Inside the NHL column by John Vogl, Sabres GM Tim Murray says he doesn't expect any radical changes in the NHL draft lottery in future years. That potential has been the No. 1 teeth-gnasher for fans since CBC's Elliotte Friedman speculated a couple weeks ago the league may try to put some anti-tanking measures into the mix for the top spots with Connor McDavid available next year.

But as I remind people EVERY GAME on our pregame chat and seemingly five times a day on Twitter, Friedman was speculating. There has been ZERO chatter about this officially from the league or from anywhere else. He never reported it was going to happen. Major difference.

---The Leafs are just about toast in the Eastern Conference race after losing their home finale,  4-2,  last night to Winnipeg. They were outshot, 39-15,  at even strength in a must-win game! Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun called the loss "Fan Depreciation Night." Good one. Randy Carlyle has to be toast. Wonder what they do about GM Dave Nonis? Phil Kessel or Dion Phaneuf? 

The Leafs are just one point behind Columbus for the final wild-card but have only three games left -- and the Blue Jackets have two games in hand. The Leafs are tied with New Jersey and the wild-card race would already be over were it not for the Devils' incredible 0-11 record in shootouts.

Statue---The Tampa Bay Lightning put up a new statue on the plaza of Tampa Bay Times Forum, and it's an image of Sabres Hall of Famer and ex-Tampa captain Dave Andreychuk holding the Stanley Cup aloft after the team's Game Seven win over Calgary in 2004.

The ceremony outside included Scotty Bowman, Andreychuk's first coach in Buffalo after he was drafted in 1982. In the picture at the right from the team Web site, Andreychuk is at the podium addressing the crowd as his family looks on. You can click on the picture for a bigger view.

---The Wild beat the Penguins, 4-0, as old friend Cody McCormick got his first goal and first two points with Minnesota. Here's the video of the goal:

Video: Former Canisius goalie wobbles his way into the spotlight

By John Vogl

As part of today's Inside the NHL (available here), I talked with former Canisius College goaltender Andrew Loewen. The netminder plays for the Columbus Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League, and he shares the crease with Shannon Szabados, who backstopped Canada to the past two Olympic gold medals.

He's also an Internet dancing sensation. Here's a look at him doing the Wobble, which has generated more than 1 million views.

« Older Entries Newer Entries »
Advertisement
John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | jvogl@buffnews.com

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

Subscribe

Advertisement