Posted January 19, 2013 on
AP on Fox
Despite his team missing the playoffs for a third time in five seasons, Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula maintained his faith in his current personnel - namely general manager Darcy Regier and coach Lindy Ruff.
Buffalo begins its quest to return to the postseason Sunday when it hosts the Philadelphia Flyers, who have ended the Sabres' attempts to reach the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.
Pegula opened his pocketbook before last season to sign Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino and also took on Robyn Regehr's hefty contract from Calgary. Buffalo's well-financed owner, though, got very little return on his investment as the Sabres finished with 89 points - four shy of a playoff berth.
"It wasn't a good feeling at all at the end of last year," defenseman Tyler Myers said. "And I think feeling that way at the end of last year is going to motivate each guy in this room that much more to not feel that way again."
Instead of changing direction, Pegula gave Regier a contract extension and the two have stuck with essentially the same personnel. One of the only major changes came when Buffalo traded center Derek Roy to Dallas for Steve Ott and Adam Pardy.
Ott had 39 points for the Stars in 2011-12, his second-best total in any season, and should provide some grittiness as he has at least 135 penalty minutes in each of the past five campaigns.
That quality was missing at times last season in front of former Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Ryan Miller, who missed time with a concussion after being run over by Boston's Milan Lucic on Nov. 12.
At one point last season, Buffalo (39-32-11) was without nine regulars.
"We went through everything, the good, the bad and the ugly,'' said Ruff, the NHL's longest active coach with one team. "We've cleared the air this summer. I think that's a good place to be. I think the true test, though, is when you get knocked down a little bit to hold that standard. That will be our true test."
The Sabres will be tested by a Flyers team that's eager to avoid back-to-back losses to open a season for the first time since 2008-09. Philadelphia gave up two early goals to Pittsburgh in a 3-1 defeat Saturday, and new captain Claude Giroux tallied the Flyers' only score in the opening minute of the second period.
"After the first 13, 14 minutes, we seemed to play more of a style we're looking for. We had a lot of shots, opportunities, but didn't capitalize on them," said coach Peter Laviolette, whose team went 0 for 5 on the power play.
Philadelphia won't get a very warm welcome in its road opener. Buffalo fans could be revved up after seeing the Flyers end their team's hopes in each of the past two campaigns.
The Sabres, who have never won a Stanley Cup since joining the league in 1970-71, lost in seven games to the Flyers in the 2011 Eastern Conference quarterfinals and were eliminated from playoff contention last season with a 2-1 loss April 5.
Buffalo hasn't advanced past the first round of the postseason since reaching the East finals in 2007.
The Flyers swept last season's four matchups with the Sabres and recorded a pair of one-goal wins in Buffalo. Giroux finished off his team's 5-4 overtime victory Dec. 7 with his only goal in the season series.
Giroux, though, had 10 assists over those four games against Buffalo after recording eight in the playoff series. Miller was 0-2-1 with a 5.24 goals-against average last season versus Philadelphia.
Leino is questionable for this game because of a leg injury. He had two goals against his former team last season.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Buffalo Sabres forward Ville Leino is missing the team's regular-season opener against the Philadelphia Flyers because of a lower body injury.
Listed by the team as day to day, Leino missed practice Saturday a day after he was hurt in practice.
Leino was well enough to join his teammates, coaches and Sabres owner Terry Pegula to greet fans in the First Niagara Center lobby...
The Buffalo Sabres are keeping Darcy Regier around as general manager.
Team owner Terry Pegula announced Saturday that the Sabres have extended Regier's contract. Buffalo opens its lockout-shortened season Sunday at home against Philadelphia.
Regier, entering his 16th season as Sabres general manager, has overseen a franchise that has reached the Eastern Conference finals four...
To quote Terry Pegula, “Darcy ain’t going no where!”
The Buffalo Sabres have announced that Darcy Regier has agreed to an extension to remain on as the team’s general manager.
The news was announced during a press conference held by the Sabres this afternoon.
Reiger is entering his 13th season as Sabres general manager, the longest tenured GM in Sabres history. He’s also...
A nine-month layoff, courtesy of the NHL lockout, wasn't long enough to disrupt the chemistry between the Buffalo Sabres' top two linemates, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville.
Vanek scored twice and added three assists, and Pominville had three assists in leading the Sabres to a 5-2 season-opening win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday afternoon.
Thomas Vanek is a one man scoring machine today.
HDTV with two goals and three assists today.
His linemates, Pominville and Hodgson have been full value in the first game of the season.
Pomemer with two assists, and, Hodgson with a goal.
Hodgson has been Buffalo's best player today. His skating has been terrific. His play making has been remarkable.
After placing Adam Pardy on waivers, and barring any moves before today's 5:00 p.m. deadline, the Sabres have their roster set at 23 for the season opener Sunday afternoon against the Flyers.
Assuming that neither Nathan Gerbe nor Cody McCormick will be ready to play due to injuries, the forward lines will likely look like this:
Vanek - Hodgson - Pominville
Foligno - Ennis...
Pat Kaleta may just be the replacement for Ville Leino on Sunday, in the event that the former Flyer cannot play against his former team.
Leino was hobbled by an existing leg injury (believed to be an ankle or groin) on Friday. He didn't skate with the team on Saturday morning. Ruff that that Leino will skate on Sunday morning at First Niagara Center. If the leg is fine,...
Thomas Vanek was the catalyst for the Sabresâ offense on Sunday, tallying a career high five points (2 G, 3 A) in Buffaloâs 5-2 victory over Philadelphia at the First Niagara Center.
Vanekâs 5-point game was the first for a Sabres player since Drew Stafford did it against Atlanta on January 18th, 2008.
With the loss, the Flyers dropped to 0-2 on the season, but...
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Thomas Vanek hardly looked like a man who hadn't played NHL hockey in nine months. Vanek had five points (two goals, three assists) to lead the Buffalo Sabres to a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday in the First Niagara Center. Tyler Myers scored the winning goal with just over five minutes remaining and Cody Hodgson gave the Sabres some breathing...
These kinds of hits have to be banned from hockey. Buffalo
forward Tyler Ennis is 157 pounds soaking wet, and Flyers forward Scott Hartnell
is a bull at 210 pounds, and he buries Ennis from behind. No penalty on the play. You have to give
former Fighting Sioux forward Drew Stafford credit for answering the call.
Pat Kaleta (#36) puts a hit on Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux during Buffalo’s 5-2 win over the Flyers.
The message from the coaches and players in the Buffalo Sabres organization was the same throughout the offseason and during training camp: become a much tougher team to play against.
Last season, much was made of the infamous Milan Lucic hit on Ryan Miller when no one on...
One thing that Darcy Regier has managed well for the past few years has been his draft strategy. Glaring organizational weaknesses have been addressed in recent seasons via the draft and this approach has led to an impressive stockpile of talent in Buffalo’s prospect cupboards.
June’s draft was certainly no exception as the Sabres took what may have been considered to be...
Welcome to the first day of the 2013 NHL season!
The Sabres are on the ice for practice at First Niagara Center this morning.
The Philadelphia Flyers will charter to Buffalo from Pittsburgh later this afternoon.
Puck drop on the Sabres season is 12:30 pm Sunday.
Ville leino is the only no show at the practice. No official reason why he's absent. Lindy Ruff will address...
Can you believe it has been 10 years since Ryan Miller started his first NHL game?
That might depend on how you feel about the Sabres. I think if you have been miserable with their existence, the years kind of drag, but when you are happy, well, time flies when you're having fun, as dorks say.
For me, it has been...kind of a fog.
I've had so many ups and downs...