It’s A Lost Cause for the Sabres

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these.  Bear with me as I catch up on all the NHL stuff I find interesting.

The Buffalo Sabres should just pack it in.  It’s over.  Going on a run now would take a miracle in itself, and with no new owner trying to buy the team and infuse the team with some energy, it’s highly unlikely that the Sabres go on the type of run they went on last year to grab one of the last available playoff spots.

Failing for Nail (Yakupov) shouldn’t be the idea, but the Sabres have shown that on top of lacking any sort of defense besides Tyler Myers (finally healthy), Robyn Regehr (injured), and Christian Ehrhoff (injured), they lack secondary scoring.  Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville have performed admirably as other players sit back and watch it all unfold.  I’m not one to call out effort, but this team just seems disinterested and passionless.

But really, why did we expect anything to change?  It’s been the same since the 2007-08 season.  The same coach, the same general manager, the same core of players, and most importantly, the same heartless attitude.  Asking this team to show up is like asking your dog not to eat table food.  It’s falling upon deaf ears, and like Ryan Miller said last night, there’s nothing that’s going to change that this year.

Another thing that I’ve noticed is that this team lacks any sort of veteran, winning presence.  Having guys like Jochen Hecht, Matt Ellis, Jordan Leopold, and Robyn Regehr is admirable, but none of those players seem to inject a feeling of winning into this team.  Hecht is about the closest thing to a veteran, scoring forward, and that is probably just a product of playing with some pretty fantastic linemates.

The Boston Bruins had that veteran presence last year in Mark Recchi.  Mark Recchi was always a character guy in which any team would love to have on their roster.  The winner of three Stanley Cups with three different teams (two before he was in Boston, obviously), Recchi was always a highly sought after commodity for teams vying for championships, being traded to Carolina in 2006 to help the Hurricanes win their first Stanley Cup.  After a year in Pittsburgh, Recchi was put on waivers only to be picked up by the Atlanta Thrashers, where he proved he still had something to play for.  After signing with Tampa Bay for the 2008-09 season, Recchi was traded to the Boston Bruins, where he stayed for another two seasons until he finally rode off into the sunset with his third, and final, Stanley Cup.

It seems many winning teams have a veteran presence who knows how to win, or has won before.  Chris Pronger is a guy that’s been to a championship round on every team he’s been on since he played with the Oilers.  Ray Whitney was highly sought after, and was won over by Phoenix after a few good years and a Stanley Cup in Carolina.  Daniel Alfredsson has proven to be a player who still has value in  Ottawa to help them back to the playoffs.  The Panthers signed a ton of vets over the summer (Ed Jovanovski, John Madden, amongst others.)  Of course, the Red Wings find ways to stay young with a roster full of veterans.

While I’m all for keeping young guys so they can grow into these players some day, the veterans are what help the youngsters get there.  Until Darcy Regier adds the right players to help these younger players, the Sabres will be the same average team that’s bounced out of the first round on a yearly basis.



Two Games For Tootoo? Good Call

Sabreland patiently awaited word from the NHL’s hearing about Jordin Tootoo’s charging penalty against Ryan Miller on Saturday night in Nashville. The league took it’s time with this one, announcing this afternoon that Tootoo will be suspended for the next two games without pay.

Since WordPress won’t allow me to post Shanahan’s explanation, here is a statement handed down from the league office:

Nashville Predators forward Jordin Tootoo has been suspended, without pay, for two games for charging Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller during NHL Game #379 Saturday night, Dec. 3, in Nashville, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.
Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and based on his average annual salary, Tootoo will forfeit $13,513.52. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
The incident occurred at 15:54 of the second period. Tootoo was assessed a major penalty for charging and game misconduct on the play.
Tootoo will miss games tonight vs. Phoenix and Dec. 8 at Columbus. He will be eligible to return Dec. 10 vs. Anaheim.

In Shanahan’s explanation, Tootoo is driving to the net with the puck, but loses it before he is able to make a play. Tootoo had enough time to avoid Miller even though Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff was making body contact with Tootoo. Another thing Shanahan nitpicks about is the fact that Tootoo jumped into Miller. While Shanahan understands the claim that Tootoo jumped to avoid contact, it actually made the play more dangerous, resulting in contact with Miller’s head. As you can see:

The result of the play was a massive scrum by the net, which included Paul Gaustad involving his fists, as well as Miller taking matters into his own hands, throwing blockers at Tootoo’s face. Furthermore, Tootoo was penalized with a five minute major for charging.

First of all, that’s already a lot more than what Milan Lucic got for running Miller outside of his crease. Lucic, if you remember, was given two minutes for that particular incident. The call on the ice was suitable for what Tootoo did. He was also ejected from the game.

When word came from the NHL yesterday that Tootoo was going to have a phone hearing with Shanahan, many were worried that the league might not come down on Tootoo at all, as the maximum suspension Tootoo could have gotten from a phone hearing is just five games.

Tootoo was given two games, though, and that seems good enough. Frankly, we shouldn’t even compare this to the Lucic incident, which was completely different from the way Tootoo ran the net.

In Lucic’s case, Miller went to make a play on a loose puck out of his crease, standing upright. Miller wasn’t “fair game” in this case, but he certainly put himself in a position to get severely hurt, which is what ended up happening, as Miller suffered a concussion from this play. While Miller was in a position in which he could get hurt, though, Lucic had plenty of time to steer clear of any sort of accident. The league really screwed that call up.

In this case, Tootoo was driving with the puck to the net, with Miller in his crease making sure the puck stays out. Tootoo loses the puck, yet still keeps barreling into Miller. Unfortunately for Tootoo, his trying to avoid hitting the goalie by jumping only made matters worse. Hitting the goalie like that, whether a player meant it or not, is a big no-no.

While Tootoo is what many fans are considering a “repeat offender”, keep in mind that Tootoo has been in the league eight years, and the last time he was suspended was when he sucker punched Stephan Robidas of the Dallas Stars almost four years ago. For reference:

Yeah, that was pretty blatant. The charging call on Miller didn’t seem as blatant. If anything, Sabres fans should be more appalled that Lucic got nothing for a more vicious hit on Miller than Tootoo did on a routine drive to the net. It looked more like Tootoo was trying to avoid the contact by jumping over Ryan Miller rather than just barrel into him. Not every player can think like Ryan Kesler and just jump on top of the net:

It’s basically the exact same thing. Kesler just made a much better choice and tried hopping over the net instead, while still making contact with the goalie.

Frankly, two games is enough for this incident, considering Tootoo was given a major penalty and was ejected from the game. There was no way this would get anything more than that. Again, it was a routine drive to the net in which Tootoo lost control of the puck, and himself. Nothing more. Jumping into Miller doesn’t seem like the best call to make, but perhaps Tootoo was a great long-jumper back in high school and thought he might try to put that to good use. Better luck next time, bud.

Honestly, there is no reason to believe that it’s going to be open-season on goalies from this point forward. How many other incidents have we had this year where the goalie was completely run over and nothing was done about it? Just that one from Boston game? Miller is the only goalie that has been viciously hit, and now that it’s happened twice, it obviously leads to the conclusion that Lindy Ruff was right, that it truly is going to be open-season on goalies. However, in reality, this seems to be a huge coincidence that just happened to involve the same goalie twice in a row, and the likelihood of it happening again seems fairly slim.

Things I Think: Realignment

1) With how quick the Winnipeg Jets’ returned to the NHL this past season, the schedule makers weren’t able to switch around the alignments to put Winnipeg in it’s rightful place: the Western Conference. Since then, the NHL and its Board of Governors have been trying to figure out a way to fix this problem. There are easy fixes, such as taking one of the teams in the Central Division and placing them in the the Southeast Division. There are also talks of a full re-alignment, in which the NHL could get rid of the two-conference system entirely. I would explain the entire thing in writing, but that’s too difficult, so I’ll post the pictures of what the NHL might like to do.

So what would the NHL do for realignment, specifically? There have been two forms of realignment proposed to the NHL Board of Governors. The first one keeps teams in conference form with new divisions:

In this form, the NHL gets rid of three divisions in favor of a two division system in each conference. In each conference, one division would have seven teams, while the other division would have eight teams. Each team would play teams in all other divisions twice, home and home. The rest of the games would be divided up equally intra-division. This alignment would also bring the idea of divisional playoffs back, in which the match-ups in the first round of the playoffs would be intra-division.

There are a few problems with this alignment. First, nobody’s sure if Columbus or Detroit would move over to the Eastern Conference, although Mike Ilitch, owner of the Red Wings, says that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman promised him that the Red Wings would finally move over to the Eastern Conference. This obviously benefits the Red Wings, who have to travel to all the team in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference twice a season per each team. Of course, the Blue Jackets have this same problem. At the same time, does anyone in Columbus care?

Another problem is that this alignment screws with the NHL’s established rivalries, most notably the Pennsylvania one. The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers would not end up in the same division. If this is the case, the Penguins and the Flyers would only play twice a season unless they met later in the playoffs.

This past Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada, another realignment is introduced that completely changes the way we think of the NHL’s current alignment:

This alignment completely changes what the NHL has been used to for the last 14 seasons. In this form, the NHL completely gets rid of the two conference system in favor of a four-division system that isn’t bound by conferences. The schedule makeup would be exactly the same as the one described in the previous alignment. However, the one thing that does change is the way the playoffs work.

In this alignment, the NHL would adopt a playoff system in which the first two rounds would be battled out between the top four teams in each division. After the first two rounds, the teams are reseeded from one to four. This means that we could see a Buffalo-Vancouver semi-final matchup before the Stanley Cup Finals.

This alignment keeps all the NHL’s current rivalries intact, and even adds to an evolving one, adding Washington into a division with Pittsburgh. Geographically, it levels the playing field for all the teams in the NHL. Teams in the west wouldn’t have to travel as much as they do now, only visiting teams in other divisions once a season. It increases the travel of the current Eastern Conference, but like I said, this is more or less leveling the playing field with the teams in the West that rack up tons of frequent flyer miles by the time the season is over.

The NHLPA isn’t all that interested in this plan, though. In both of these alignments, there are eight teams in two divisions, and seven teams in the two others. The NHLPA claims that this alignment is unfair for the teams in eight-team divisions, which is a valid point. There’s always that idea of contraction, or maybe even expansion, but neither of those things are realistic for the NHL, who will never want to contract teams, nor does it have the ability to magically expand at the moment. Quebec and Las Vegas are thoroughly disappointed.

The second division alignment is the more intriguing option, here. It doesn’t screw too much up with the current system. However, it changes enough to make some sort of a difference, but that keeps it interesting. For all we know, though, the NHL will simply do what most people expect them to do and just switch two teams. Here’s to hoping for more change.

2) I know. That first one was a long one, so I’ll keep the next four short.

The Sabres are a mess. Other than Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville, nothing seems to be meshing with this team. Ville Leino has been an atrocity offensively, but his defensive game deserves applause. There’s renewed hope with him currently on a line with rookies Luke Adam and Zack Kassian, though. Kassian, by the way, has been impressive in his five games.

3) Three coaching changes this week. Paul Maurice was axed in Carolina in favor of Kirk Muller. Bruce Boudreau received a call at 6:15 AM to be told that his services were no longer required in Washington, as former Caps captain Dale Hunter takes the helm.

The Boudreau firing becomes even more interesting after the Anaheim-Montreal game on Wednesday night, as he was hired by the Ducks to replace one-time Stanley Cup winning coach Randy Carlisle. If only I could find a job that would fire me in order to be hired by a better company the next day…

4) Claude Giroux is the first Flyer to lead the NHL’s scoring race after 25 games since Eric Lindros did it in the 1998-99 season. In case you needed a random fact to tell your friend at lunch, today.

5) Finally, if Jordin Tootoo isn’t suspended for jumping into Ryan Miller on Saturday night, I’ll be convinced that the Shanabanner isn’t any better than Colin Campbell was. That is all.

Trade Rumors: Why They’re Fun and Why They Suck

I love when the trade winds start rocking the boat in November. It’s the beginning of the season, and teams are supposed to be feeling out where they’ll be by mid-season in January. Some teams are doing really well, like Boston, who went 12-0-1 in November. Naturally, fans and media alike wouldn’t think to mess with the mojo of a team by talking trades. Of course, there are those anomalies like Vancouver, who are playing well in front of backup goalie Cory Schneider, who in the month of November had a save percentage of .942 along with 2 shutouts. Roberto Luongo isn’t doing too hot, so naturally, fans are thinking it’s time to trade franchise goalie Roberto Luongo.

I stress that we are only two months into hockey season.

Of course, all hell broke loose this past week when a rumor was floated out through the hockey world: the Anaheim Ducks had made Bobby Ryan available by trade. The Ducks were a mess in November, winning only 2 of their 13 games. It made sense that the Ducks were looking for a shake-up. Everybody and their mother was trying to figure out the right trade to bring Bobby Ryan to [insert team name here]. For a while, it seemed like the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers were the teams most likely to get Ryan to play for their respective squads. Status quo.

Along the way, Hall of Fame hockey writer Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal reported that Ryan Miller may not consider it the worst thing to be traded out of Buffalo. This one picked up a ton of steam simply because of the amount of respect Matheson has from the hockey world.

It was Tuesday night that things started to get really interesting. Ducks GM Bob Murray and two Anaheim scouts paid a visit to Buffalo to watch the Sabres play the Islanders. Twitter erupted shortly afterwards, trying to figure out why a hockey GM would ever decide to go to an opposing team’s arena to watch an NHL hockey game.

Who would have thought that it’s more or less because they can?

The hockey world was a mad-house on Wednesday. WGR was talking about trade ideas with Anaheim for the entirety of Schopp and the Bulldog. Reports were coming in and out all day that team A was out, team B was in on Bobby Ryan. Ryan referred to the trade rumors as “a nightmare.” His coach, Randy Carlisle, pretty much told him to deal with it.

This went on all day until around 10:00 Eastern time, when the Ducks and the Montreal Canadiens got things going in Anaheim, with Bobby Ryan skating on Anaheim’s second line. That’s when things started dying down.

Where does Ryan Miller fit into all this? Obviously, the Ducks were looking for a big piece back in order to ship out a player as talented as Ryan. The only explanation was that the Sabres and Ducks were talking about a trade for the two players.

Unfortunately in the hockey world, trades aren’t that simple. Besides, the Ducks are set at goalie with Jonas Hiller. Trading Miller for Ryan didn’t make sense, in any respect imaginable.

If Ryan Miller was going to be traded, it would have been news to him, which is news in itself. Miller has a no-trade clause, where he’d have to submit a list of eight teams he does not want to play for.

It is awesome that we have something like this to talk about in the month of November. Year in and year out, we as fans wait for the trade deadline in order to discuss ridiculous deals that (probably) aren’t going to happen. To have something like that to talk about in November is awesome for hockey fans who aren’t especially fond of the first part of the regular season.

Of course, the bad part about a rumor in November is that it makes the entire hockey world crazy about just that one rumor, until it’s over-hyped so much that every single team’s fans think that their team can get the guy that’s being hung out like bait for other teams to grab a hold of. Fans dream up every single possible (or impossible) way in order to satisfy their urge to make that player a member of his or her favorite team’s roster.

The point of this story is that when a star player’s name is floated out like Bobby Ryan’s, the entire hockey world stops in awe of who might actually pick up a guy with his caliber. He’s a decent sized forward with a ton of skill that can help any hockey team in the scoring department. There’s not a team in the NHL that doesn’t want Bobby Ryan, except for the Anaheim Ducks, seemingly.

In the end, the Ducks just did what every other team does when their team needs to be re-energized. They fired their coach.

Zack Kassian: Exactly What the Sabres Ordered

Sabres fans were excited for Zack Kassian’s pro career to begin. Drafted 13th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, the Sabres liked the forward, then from the OHL’s Peterborough Petes, for his toughness and potential to be a scoring power forward. For a while, 13th overall seemed a little high for Kassian. He was a reckless forward, shown by a 20-game suspension following Kassian’s elbow thrown on Barrie Colts’ forward Matt Kennedy. Shortly after he came back from suspension, Kassian was traded to the Windsor Spitfires, where he won the CHL’s Memorial Cup.

From there, Kassian started gaining more control over his game. Last season, Kassian looked like a man among boys in Windsor, and he wasn’t afraid to show it. While not only being much bigger than most of the players in the OHL, Kassian also had a prolific offensive year, scoring 26 goals and 77 points in 56 games. His point total ranked him in the top 30 of the OHL. His 51 assists ranked 13th.

Kassian was also on Team Canada’s roster for the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championships held in Buffalo. He was expected to show that he could hold his own with many players from his draft class, such as Carter Ashton and Ryan Ellis. In five games, Kassian scored two goals and three points. Unfortunately, Kassian’s recklessness returned to him, as he was suspended for two games for a hit to the head on the Czech team’s defensman Petr Senkerik. Kassian was once again suspended this past April in the OHL playoffs for a hit considered “intent to injure” on Owen Sound Attack defenseman Jesse Blacker.

After the Spitfires were knocked out of the playoffs, Kassian reported to the Portland Pirates to kick off his pro career. Getting mostly 3rd- and 4th-line time, Kassian was held scoreless through three playoff games, but only had two penalty minutes. It seemed that if anything, Kassian was controlling himself so as not to get suspended again.

Kassian had a lot to prove coming into his first pro season. Being one of the Sabres’ final cuts of training camp, Kassian began his first full season of his pro career in Rochester. Expected to bring a physical presence, Kassian disappointed. However, where he lacked in his expected physical play, he made up for that by finding his scoring touch. In 18 games, Kassian racked up 14 points, leading the Amerks in points until he was called up by the Sabres. While thought of as a physical player, Kassian played more like a scorer in Rochester. WGR’s Matthew Coller, the stations’s Rochester Americans beat writer, wrote that Sabres fans shouldn’t expect much physicality from the forward.

Through three games, Kassian’s been plenty physical, registering 6 hits and a fighting major. Kassian is most noticeable along the boards, where he uses his size and strength to win puck battles with the opposing team’s players. It was a shifty move along the boards at the blue line that led to Kassian’s first NHL point, assisting on Jordan Leopold’s goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets on November 26th. The next night, Kassian netted his first NHL goal, getting a pass from Andrej Sekera at the boards on the blue line. Kassian continued up the boards and fired a shot that just found it’s way between the five-hole of Thomas Vokoun.

Kassian’s first NHL fight was a doozy. His scrap with the Islander’s Matt Martin came off of a play in which Nathan Gerbe was interfered with, sparking some extra-curricular activity along the boards until Kassian met Martin for a center-ice dance. Kassian fired punches left and right, top and bottom. Martin’s helmet remained on for most of the fight, limiting some of the blows Kassian could get in on him. It wasn’t long before Martin lifted Kassian’s jersey and shoulder pads, which is when Kassian really let the punches fly. It became so intense that Martin eventually waved the white flag, giving Kassian a win on his first fight.

Here’s the fight:

If Kassian can continue to play this physical for his remaining stint in Buffalo, not to mention for the rest of his time in Rochester, Kassian could have himself a long, bright future in Buffalo as the tough power-forward the Sabres have been waiting for since what seems like forever. Really. When is the last time Buffalo had a really good power-forward?

Sabres Quarter-Season Awards

With just a little over a quarter of the season gone, it’s time to recognize the Buffalo Sabres players that have really impressed, or truly disappointed, through the team’s 23 games.

The Sabres head into next week with a 13-9-1 record, giving the team 27 points. This puts the team at third in the Northeast Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference. For a team that had so much hype at the beginning of the season, that’s pretty disappointing.

Certain players have stood out, but certain games stand out as winnable contests that the Sabres didn’t have the will to win. They couldn’t muster anything against the 30th-ranked Columbus Blue Jackets, a team the Sabres beat earlier in the season at the First Niagara Center. Speaking of home games, the Sabres have a 6-6-1 record in their own building, which is unaccepatable. Thankfully, the Sabres have a pretty good road record, going 7-3 in games in other teams’ buildings. If the Sabres hope to stay in playoff contention, their play at home must improve.

Enough about the Sabres as a team, though. Here are Hockey Heaven, NY’s picks for individual awards at the quarter mark of the season:

Most Valuable Player- Thomas Vanek– This shouldn’t even be a question. Vanek leads the team in many categories, including goals (12), points (26), game-winning goals (3), shots (78), and power play points (6). He’s second on the team in assists with 14. Vanek has had points in 18 of his 23 games, and the Sabres are 2-3 the games he didn’t score. His place on the team doesn’t begin to describe where he falls in with the rest of the NHL. Vanek is 4th in the league in scoring behind Phil Kessel (30), Claude Giroux (29), and Joffrey Lupul (27). Vanek has been on fire ever since the season started. This may be because his linemate, Jason Pominville, was given the Sabres’ captaincy by coach Lindy Ruff. In a way, he may be trying to show Ruff that he made the wrong choice, while at the same time, helping the team on the ice while leading by example. This is Vanek’s spot to lose.

Most Surprising Player- Jason Pominville– This spot could have gone to Luke Adam, but his hot start has tapered off some since the start of the season. Instead, Jason Pominville has done nothing but get on the scoresheet since the start of the season. He’s almost as hot as Thomas Vanek, with 25 points in 23 games. Pominville leads the team in assists with 16, and he’s second in goals with nine. We’ve seen before in past seasons that Pominville has the ability to put up points, but he hasn’t been as prolific as he is now with scoring since the 2007-08 season, when he had an 80 point season, one point behind Derek Roy’s team-leading 81. Since then, his scoring has decreased significantly, getting only 52 points in 73 games last season. It’s possible that Pominville will eventually slow down, but as long as he’s on a line with Thomas Vanek, he’ll be expected to keep scoring at a high rate. If not, he could always team up with Paul Gaustad for another one of these:

Best Rookie- Jhonas Enroth– While I once again considered Luke Adam for this spot, Jhonas Enroth has been nothing short of phenomenal in place of Ryan Miller, whether that be for spot starts or during the time Miller has been out with a concussion. Before Miller was knocked out of the Boston game about three weeks ago, Enroth was forcing Lindy Ruff’s hand into sitting Miller for the rookie goalie. Enroth has started 12 games, in which he’s 8-3-1 with a .925 save percentage and 2.29 goals against average. He has started every single game since Miller went out, which personally, I don’t agree with. Lindy Ruff’s management of goalies has always been, at the very least, questionable, but you almost can’t blame him at the moment. Drew MacIntyre isn’t really a time-tested goalie that Ruff knows he can rely on for a spot start every now and then. Regardless, other than the other night in Columbus, Enroth has been spectacular in place of Ryan Miller, and should make Lindy Ruff more comfortable in installing a timeshare with his goalies once Miller is healthy enough to come back.

Best Defenseman- Robyn Regehr– This shouldn’t even be a question. While he’s not a scorer, Regehr is one of the best acquisitions the Sabres made over this past off-season. While his +/- isn’t too pretty (-4), Regehr is the physical, stay-at-home defenseman the Sabres have been looking for since Jay McKee’s departure at the end of the 2006 season. He leads the team with 59 hits and 34 blocked shots. His physicality is a change of pace from all the offensive-minded defensemen that the Sabres have on their roster. Regehr is out with an upper-body injury right now, but hopefully he’ll be back soon.

Best Summer Acquisition-Robyn Regehr– See Above

Best Goalie- Jhonas Enroth– See Above.

While there have been many good stories, there have also been some disappointments.

Ville Leino was expected to bring an extra scoring dimension to the Sabres and solve the team’s problem with depth at center. However, Leino hasn’t been able to catch on with any linemates and has since been moved to the wing in most situations. One can only hope that eventually he’ll catch on, as fans will have to deal with a lot of Leino before his contract is up in six years.

Tyler Myers was having a pretty dismal season after signing a big 7-year deal this past September. He has 6 points in 19 games and is a -4 with 31 blocked shots and 24 hits. He’s been decent, but decent isn’t good enough when his $7 million cap hit kicks in next season.

Drew Stafford also signed a new contract over the summer. He’s expected to be a 30-goal scorer for the next four years, but at the moment, he’s on pace to score only 15 goals this season, counting the game he already missed. He’ll probably be missing a little bit more time with a bad groin.

The Injury Bug Strikes Again

So, while we head into the month of December, the Sabres find themselves with a slew of injuries, which even the best of teams would have a hard time overcoming. Let’s take a look at those injuries who is injured:

Ryan Miller – Concussion
Tyler Myers – Wrist
Robyn Regehr – Upper Body
Mike Weber – Upper Body
Brad Boyes – Lower Body
Tyler Ennis – Ankel
Cody McCormick- Upper Body
Patrick Kaleta – Lower Body
and following last nights loss to Columbus its being reported that a mystery forward is hurt and might miss tonight’s games. (UPDATE: Drew Stafford is reported to have a groin injury, according to WGR’s Paul Hamilton.)

Day-to-day injuries happen, and they are expected over the grueling 82-game season. The Sabres’ injuries fall mostly into the “wait and see what happens” category, with no real timetables for any player’s return. The only two players from the above list that have been skating in no contact drills are winger Tyler Ennis and defenseman Mike Weber.

To try to alleviate the pain from these injuries, the Sabres were forced to call up many players from the Rochester Americans. The Sabres must be relieved that they remade this partnership with the Amerks before the start of the season. So in case you’re having trouble matching the numbers to the names in tonight’s game here is a list of those players who were called-up:

54 – Zack Kassian – 1 NHL GAME – RW
58 – Paul Szczechura – 83 NHL GAMES – C
78 – Corey Tropp – 9 NHL GAMES – RW
33 – T.J. Brennan – 2 NHL Games – D
81 – Brayden Mcnabb – 0 NHL GAMES – D
31 – Drew Macintyre – 4 NHL GAMES – G

Hopefully the injured mystery player doesn’t prove to be too costly, and the Sabres can find a way to battle hard and pull out what should be a tough 2 points against a Washington team that is also in need of an important 2 points.

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