This season hasn't been easy for Lindy Ruff. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres possess slew of underachievers in disappointing season

BUFFALO – On the surface, it sounds like a dynamic early-season combination. Goalie Ryan Miller locked in, on top of his game. Twenty-two goals and 49 points from the Sabres’ top line, highlighted by 11 scores and 23 points from superstar Thomas Vanek.

Well, it’s added up to a 5-7-1 record, 11 points and a last-place Northeast Division standing entering tonight’s tilt in Ottawa against the Senators.

The defense, the Sabres’ supposed strength, is ... Read the full article

Christian Ehrhoff returned Thursday following a one-game absence. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Ehrhoff’s return pushes Pardy out of Sabres’ lineup

BUFFALO – Going back to the minors was difficult at first, Adam Pardy said. Other than a two-game conditioning stint last season, the Sabres defenseman had spent more than four years in the NHL.

Then the Sabres, who acquired Pardy from Dallas in July, waived the 28-year-old during training camp last month. Numbers kicked Pardy, the ninth defenseman in an eight-man race, back to the AHL.

“It’s something I’ve never went through before,” Pardy said ... Read the full article

Christian Ehrhoff skated this morning. ©2013. Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Ehrhoff plans to return tonight

BUFFALO – The Sabres’ banged-up defense corps should be getting their best player back tonight against the Montreal Canadiens.

Christian Ehrhoff, sidelined by a muscle strain Tuesday, skated this morning inside the First Niagara Center.

“I took the whole skate and I’m ready to go tonight,” Ehrhoff said afterward.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff wouldn’t pronounce Ehrhoff fully ready yet, however.

“He’s going to take warm-up tonight and we’ll see where he’s at,” Ruff said. “Early ... Read the full article

Thomas Vanek began his point bonanza on opening day. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Crazy early pace by Sabres’ Vanek could help shatter short-season records

The scoring benchmarks set during the only other lockout-shortened season – the 48-game 1994-95 campaign – are steep. The NHL hadn’t fully devolved into a clutch-and-grab league then.

Top scorers still racked up some pretty gaudy numbers.

Peter Bondra’s 34 goals, two more than Jaromir Jagr, topped the league. Jagr and Eric Lindros both scored 70 points. Ron Francis had 48 assists.

With an utterly dominant three-goal, five-point performance in the Buffalo Sabres’ dizzying ... Read the full article

Mikhail Grigorenko won't be returning to the Quebec Remparts. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Lockout helped Grigorenko develop into NHL talent

BUFFALO – If the Sabres had to decide Mikhail Grigorenko’s NHL fate back in September, then the team would’ve returned the 18-year-old rookie to junior, general manager Darcy Regier said.

But the lockout gave Grigorenko a unique opportunity to keep developing before the 48-game NHL season started.

The center dominated the QMJHL. His strong play with Team Russia during the recent world junior championship elevated his confidence to another level, Regier said.

The top prospect ... Read the full article

The NHL lockout gave Mikhail Grigorenko more time to develop. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

NHL lockout helped Grigorenko stick with Sabres

BUFFALO – If the Sabres had to decide Mikhail Grigorenko’s NHL fate back in September, then the team would’ve returned the 18-year-old rookie to junior, general manager Darcy Regier said.

But the lockout gave Grigorenko a unique opportunity to keep developing before the 48-game NHL season started.

The center dominated the QMJHL. His strong play with Team Russia during the recent world junior championship elevated his confidence to another level, Regier said.

The top prospect ... Read the full article

Mikhail Grigorenko (left) and Tyler Myers entered the NHL as teenagers. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres waiting to make decision on Grigorenko’s future

BUFFALO – The fun part, slick Sabres prospect Mikhail Grigorenko said, comes when he touches the puck and makes a play on NHL ice.

“You realize you’re in (the) NHL and you did something good,” the 18-year-old said Monday after the Sabres prepared for tonight’s tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs inside the First Niagara Center.

Grigorenko set his sights on the NHL as a child growing up in Khabarovsk, Russia, a city just 19 ... Read the full article

Drew Stafford's still looking for his first goal this season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Struggling Sabres trying to ‘get rid of the pond hockey’ mentality

AMHERST – In about 27 hours, the Buffalo Sabres morphed from a tight five-man unit into a disjointed, ugly mess, performing brutally during consecutive losses to the once-hapless Carolina Hurricanes.

So much for all that optimism the Sabres’ hot 2-0 start had generated just several days ago.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff broke up his lines Saturday and ripped into his team­ on the Northtown Center ice, at one point barking, “Every freakin’ puck is ... Read the full article

Jason Pominville (front) and Thomas Vanek began skating together regularly last season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Pominville, Vanek proving to be dynamic wing combination

BUFFALO – Early in the second period of the Sabres’ 2-1 win Monday, Thomas Vanek knocked Nikolai Kulemin down in his own zone, grabbed the loose puck and zoomed down the left wing into Toronto territory on a three-on-two break.

Vanek then laid a perfect pass over to Jason Pominville, almost without looking, as he stopped at the top of the left circle. Cody Hodgson, meanwhile, was roaring to the crease with a ... Read the full article

Cody Hodgson already has two goals in two games this season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres banking on youngsters Ennis, Hodgson becoming top centers

BUFFALO – The inexperience is their greatest asset and most glaring weakness. It excites and worries Sabres coach Lindy Ruff in the same breath.

His top two centers, Tyler Ennis and Cody Hodgson, are true neophytes, veterans of just a combined 235 NHL games.

Ennis only began playing center regularly late last year, his second full season. The 23-year-old was dynamic, though, compiling eight goals and 19 points over a 12-game stretch.

Hodgson, meanwhile, ... Read the full article