Best wishes to RJ

Mikhail Grigorenko (25) returned to the Sabres on Tuesday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres want to monitor Grigorenko in NHL with junior season over

Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – For the time being at least, 18-year-old rookie Mikhail Grigorenko is back with the Sabres following a one-month stint in junior.

The Russian center practiced Tuesday inside the First Niagara Center and traveled with the team to Boston for tonight’s tilt against the Bruins. But Grigorenko will likely be scratched.

Rather than sending Grigorenko to AHL Rochester, where he’s now eligible to play with the Quebec Remparts’ season having ended last week, the Sabres want to “put him in this environment against our guys and see where it takes him,” interim coach Ron Rolston said.

“Now he’s got to come back here and earn what he gets,” Rolston said.

Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said he told Grigorenko in March the Sabres would recall him after the QMJHL season. Regier received good reports from Remparts coach Patrick Roy.

“Attitude-wise, Patrick said he had a great attitude and worked,” Regier said. “I think they had a very good, tough first round. He played very well. The second was tough, not only on him but on the team. It had a lot of ups and downs.”

Following a scorching postseason start, Grigorenko cooled off considerably. He had three goals and 12 points in a six-game opening-round win. But he mustered only two goals and two points in the Remparts’ five-game second-round loss.

Grigorenko said he’s glad he went back to junior and played big minutes. He had been a regular healthy scratch in Buffalo.

“I played a lot there, 20 minutes every game, picked up some confidence,” Grigorenko said. “It was a good experience.”

Grigorenko “wasn’t really surprised” the Sabres sent him back to junior after 22 games. Still, he “didn’t really expect that.”

“Sometimes I was thinking about maybe they would do it to me,” Grigorenko said. “I wasn’t really playing here. So that’s what they did, and I think it was a really good decision.”

With Grigorenko back, the Sabres have two extra forwards. Could Luke Adam, a recent healthy scratch, get sent back to Rochester?

“We still have to discuss that,” Rolston said.

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Rolston said he hasn’t decided whether Ryan Miller or Jhonas Enroth will start in goal tonight.

Enroth won consecutive starts over the weekend while allowing only one goal. The backup has terrible career numbers – 0-3-2, 4.00 goals-against average and .888 save percentage – against the Bruins, however.

The 24-year-old has never started three straight games for a healthy Miller.

Miller, meanwhile, has terrific stats – 24-8-7, 2.53 and .919 – versus Boston.

“I would normally just go with your gut feeling on it and how guys are performing at that point more than (the) history of it,” Rolston said.

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Former Sabres coach Lindy Ruff will coach Team Canada at the upcoming world championship, TSN reported.

Ruff, fired by Regier on Feb. 20 after 15 seasons as Sabres coach, led Canada at the 2009 world championship, winning silver.

He parlayed that into an assistant coaching position at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, where the Canadians won gold.

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Sabres prospect Daniel Catenacci, whose Ontario Hockey League season just ended, tweeted Tuesday he’s joining Rochester.

Update: Adam has been sent back to Rochester.

Related: Sabres’ Enroth grounds Lightning in second consecutive start

Sabres’ Adam thrilled to be back in NHL after long wait

Sabres believe sending Grigorenko back to junior will help prospect’s development

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