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Posted On Tuesday, 10.04.2011 / 1:33 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Kings of Europe

Kings answer Freezers' goal, up 2-1

A pair of goals in less than a minute have brought live into this game after a slight lull.

After carrying the play for close to five minutes, the Freezers were rewarded with a power-play goal that tied the game at 1-1. Former NHLer Serge Aubin, who played 374 NHL games for Columbus, Colorado and Atlanta, beat Jonathan Quick with a nasty shot from the slot with 7:09 left.

But on the very next shift, Alex Martinez restored the lead for the Kings, snapping home a brilliant feed from Dustin Brown, who used the wide ice of the Olympic-sized rink here to give himself some separation.
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Posted On Tuesday, 10.04.2011 / 1:13 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Kings of Europe

Williams gives Kings a quick lead

The Los Angeles Kings have gotten off to a dream start in their final exhibition game, scoring just 36 seconds into the game against the Hamburg Freezers at O2 World Arena in Hamburg.

Justin Williams' goal, on the first shot of the game, was a seemingly harmless wrister from the right circle that seemed to handcuff John Curry, the Hamburg goalie. Curry played the past several seasons in the Pittsburgh Penguins system. This is his first year with Hamburg.

Jonathan Quick got the start for the Kings. He will play approximately half the game, according to coach Terry Murray. Jonathan Bernier will play the second half. Drew Doughty is making his preseason debut in this game after signing a new long-term deal late last week.

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.04.2011 / 9:31 AM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Kings of Europe

Kings on alert for upset bid

The result was impossible to miss. It seemed everyone in Germany knew by Tuesday morning that the New York Rangers had lost Monday's preseason game against Swiss club HC Zug 8-4.

Not only was it talked about by the Los Angeles Kings, but it served as a valuable reminder that the Hamburg Freezers, the Kings' opponent in Tuesday's preseason finale, also will be looking for a headline-grabbing win against an elite NHL team.

"From their standpoint, it's an exciting game," Kings captain Dustin Brown told NHL.com. "For us, it is a game we are expected to win. It's almost a lose/lose situation for us. But the game can't be about the score for us, it has to be about preparing ourselves to open the season against the Rangers.

"For an exhibition game, I'm sure it will be intense."

Kings coach Terry Murray has to walk that fine line between trying to win the game as a confidence-builder for his club, while also making decisions that best will prepare his club for when it starts the regular season Friday against the Rangers in Stockholm (1 p.m. ET VERSUS, TSN).

"We are going to approach the game the right way emotionally," Murray told NHL.com. "We want to make sure we play hard and get our team and structure in order so we are ready for opening night against the Rangers. Again, it will be a professional approach with good tempo and good pace."

But, there is the chance for a loss in that scenario -- especially with the game being played on an Olympic-sized sheet that is far more familiar to the home side.

"We have all been through these kinds of scenarios before, whether you are a player or a coach," Murray said. "You get into these games where, as you mentioned, it can be a lose/lose (scenario) where if you don't win by a 10-0 score then there is something wrong with your performance. We're looking at as an important game.

"It's an exhibition game that we have to go out and play the right way and make sure our system is in place and coming at it with the right team attitude to get things prepared for the first game. We'll play our best and let the game unfold from there."

Franchise defenseman Drew Doughty will make his 2011-12 debut Tuesday against the Freezers. He knows it will have a bit more zip than a traditional NHL preseason game, but he welcomes the challenge as he prepares for the start of the season.

"We know that they are going to come out hard and try their best to beat us," Doughty told NHL.com. "We can't take them lightly. If we do that, there is a good chance that we'll get beat."

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.04.2011 / 9:06 AM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Kings of Europe

Kings adopt hybrid lineup for Freezers game

While Los Angeles coach Terry Murray wants to treat Tuesday's 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere Challenge game against the Hamburg Freezers at their O2 World Arena as a regular-season game, he knows he will have to make a few concessions.

Tuesday morning, Murray said he would ice as close to his opening-night lineup as possible -- with a few significant alterations.

The biggest one comes courtesy of the expanded roster limits in the European leagues. With the ability to go beyond the NHL's 20 dressed players, Murray said he'll dress 22 for Tuesday's game. Both extras will be defensemen as the Kings try to limit the minutes played by Drew Doughty, who will be making his debut after just two full practices with the team.

"We're going to dress eight defensemen -- 22 guys," Murray told NHL.com. "That's kind of nice because Doughty is coming back and this will be his first opportunity to get some ice time with the team. This will allow him to get into the lineup without playing those 27 or 28 minutes and that is a good thing. Other than that, we'll have pretty much a full lineup."

Up front, Dustin Penner is the only veteran sitting out.

"But that just gives a young player the opportunity to play in another game," Murray said.

In goal, Murray said Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier will split time in the game so each can get a final tune-up before Friday's season opener in Stockholm. 
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Posted On Monday, 10.03.2011 / 1:01 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Sabres take Germany

Homecooking appeals to Buffalo

There was a little taste of home here for the Sabres on Monday morning.

Buffalo took the ice for Monday's practice at the SAP Arena and was surrounded by a sea of blue and yellow as fans which made the team-sponsored trip flocked to the open practice. They were joined there by fans of Adler Mannheim, the club team which Buffalo plays here in Tuesday night's Compuware Premiere Challenge exhibition, to make quite the festive scene that was nothing more than a traditional morning skate, featuring line rushes and shooting drills.

Yet, the fans cheered every move, including stickhandling drill in which each player had to navigate the puck through a line of closely spaced pucks. If the player failed, he had to start from the beginning again. The fans followed intently, loudly cheering each successful attempt and groaning with each failure.

"It made for a fun practice and a fun atmosphere," coach Lindy Ruff said. "It's funny how (the stickhandling drill) turned into something that fans kept an eye on. I think it created an extra pressure for the player trying to do it. Some passed the test and some got frustrated. It was fun."

The loudest cheer of the day, though, came in the dying minutes of the session when local-boy-done-good Jochen Hecht joined practice in time for the picture the team took with the 110 or so members of the fan club in attendance.

Hecht was held out of practice as he battles concussion-related symptoms and he won't play in Tuesday's NHL Premiere Challenge exhibition against Manheim, the team for which he turned pro almost 15 years ago. It was a bitter blow for both Hecht and the fans of Adler Mannheim, who have anticipated Tuesday's reunion for much of the past two months.

Despite the profound disappointment Hecht was feeling as he came to grips with the death of his dream to play before the Mannheim fans as a member of the Sabres, he said that Monday's reception by the fans certainly helped his spirits.

"It felt great of course," Hecht said. "Coming here and being able to say hello to the fans that don't get to see me during the summer. They want to show that I belong to them. This is my hometown. I used to be one of them sitting in the stands watching the team."

The practice ended with the fan club members being invited on to the ice for a picture with the team. Forty members of the fan club missed the practice after they were delayed in the United States. They are expected to arrive Tuesday morning. After the picture, the players stayed on the ice and mingled with the fans.

"It tells a lot about our fans that they travelled all this way," Ruff said. "It was nice to give them a little something extra. The 10 minutes of interaction we had on the ice was great for our fans. I think that part of it is really important and I think the players enjoy it too."

Young defenseman Tyler Myers agreed. He stayed on the ice longer than many of his teammates, signing banners and photos and taking pictures with fans.

"Today was kind of cool," Myers told NHL.com. "It was unexpected, for sure. When you get that many fans out there, it makes it a lot of fun. The fans are a big part of what we do. They fuel the fire."

 

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Posted On Monday, 10.03.2011 / 12:34 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Sabres take Germany

Sleep issues remain for Sabres

Alarm clocks were a necessity Monday morning for the Buffalo Sabres.

The trans-Atlantic flight did serious damage to the internal clock of some of the players.

"I woke up at 3 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep," defenseman Tyler Myers said.

Rookie Luke Adam said he was up from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. before finally falling back asleep.

"When my alarm finally went off, it felt like it was 2 a.m.," Adam told NHL.com

Even Christian Ehrhoff, a native of Gemany who makes the flight on a regular basis, admitted to struggling a bit with jet lag on Monday afternoon.

Coach Lindy Ruff, though, was happy the sleeping struggles did not manifest themselves in Monday's practice session.

"I thought the guys looked pretty good this morning," Ruff said. "I thought their jump was good and I think going into tomorrow's game it will give us another measure of the energy of our team."


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Posted On Monday, 10.03.2011 / 12:31 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Sabres take Germany

Ruff expects stern challenge from Mannheim

Lindy Ruff expects the best out of Adler Mannheim in Tuesday's Compuware NHL Premiere Challenge game at SAP Arena.

After all, Mannheim gave the San Jose Sharks all they could handle in an exhibition here last October. San Jose eventually prevailed, 3-2, in the shootout, but not before being pushed to the limit by a quick and hungry home team.

"I think it is going to be a highly competitive game judging by the fact that last year they played San Jose and almost beat San Jose," Ruff said after Monday's practice. "They can skate and they have some guys that can shoot. They have a lot of pride and I think any time you get to play a team from the NHL and you can knock them off, that is a feather in your cap. So, I think the game is going to be real competitive."

That's a situation that suits Ruff just fine. Just three days removed from the start of the team's regular season -- a NHL Premiere game against Anaheim in Helsinki, Finland -- Ruff believes his team can use a spirited final tune-up.

"It's a good environment for us," he said. "I think a real competitive game is a good environment for us. To play under the gun and to play against guys that are competing really hard and they are not teammates, it's a good tune-up for starting the season."

With that said, Ruff isn't committing to his starting lineup for Tuesday's game.

Backup goalie Jhonas Enroth will get the start after starter Ryan Miller went the distance in Saturday night's preseason game against Washington back in the United States.

"We want to get (Enroth) some work," Ruff said.

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Posted On Sunday, 10.02.2011 / 11:13 AM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Sabres take Germany

A blast from the past

Rene Corbet is from is from Victoriaville, Quebec and was a second-round pick by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1991 Entry Draft. Today, he lives and works in Calgary, a place in which he played 68 of his 362 NHL games during a nine-year career that ended in 2001.

But, it was here in Mannheim that Corbet found his hockey home. After leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins iN 2001 -- the final stop in a five-team journey across the NHL -- Corbet decided to give Germany a try. He signed with the Mannheim franchise after leaving the Penguins and ended up staying for eight years.

Tuesday night, he will have his number retired before Adler plays the Buffalo Sabres in a NHL Challenge game at SAP Arena.

"I never expected anybody to retire my number," Corbet told NHL.com minutes after arriving at SAP Arena straight from his flight on Sunday. "It's certainly an honor. I have a lot of memories from this team in the eight years I was here . That was a really special time. I have two boys that were born in Germany. This is a special place for me.

"It's unbelievable. It's a class organization and they took such good care of me for eight years. It's hard to stay in one place that long in Europe."

Corbet helped manheim win a DEL title during his time with the club -- a memory that he considers his most fond from his time in Germany -- and finished with 111 goals and 96 assists in 266 DEL games.
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Posted On Sunday, 10.02.2011 / 11:09 AM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Sabres take Germany

Bigger isn't always better for Sabres

The Sabres quickly learned Tuesday's exhibition game against the Adler Mannheim hosts could pose several problems.

The building is built in such a way that the fans -- even in the top sections -- are extremely close to the ice. Plus, the area behind the goal Mannheim protects twice is a standing-only section that is jammed with the team's most ardent supporters. They sing and clap throughout the game, which can be a disruptive force for an opposition unused to such tactics.

But, by far, the biggest challenge will be adapting to the bigger ice surface as the SAP Arena features an Olympic-sized sheet of ice.

After Sunday's practice, Tomas Vanek called it an ocean, referring to the extra room in the Corners of the offensive zone. Goalie Ryan Miller, meanwhile, was talking about how his angles were a bit off and how he had to fight the tendency to move too far side-to-side when tracking rushes. He says his visual clues are all off because of the wider ice surface.

Lindy Ruff knows his team will have some issues with the big ice, but he is grateful Tuesday's game is the only one that will be played on the Olympic-sized surface. The NHL Premiere games in Helsinki and Berlin will be played on NHL-sized ice sheets.

"You'll see a little bit of difference in the game (Tuesday)," Ruff said. "Outside the (faceoff) dots, you have the extra 20 feet that players can use, but inside the dots you are looking at the same game from the dots-in.  IF you make sure you are playing on the inside, you usually play well. If you get caught on the outside and handling the puck, you can look pretty good -- but you generally don't get too much done. In our case, it is to try to play our (NHL) game on this ice."
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Posted On Sunday, 10.02.2011 / 10:31 AM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Sabres take Germany

Juggling the lines

The Buffalo Sabres brought 24 players to Europe and could open ther season with this lineup -- minus emergency goalie Drew MacIntyre, who is here on a roster exemption.

Of those 23 players, Luje Adam might be the biggest surprise. The young forward, taken in the second round in 2008, has taken advantage of some injuries (Jochen hecht) and suspensions (Brad Boyes) to really open the eyes of the coaching staff.

During Sunday's practice, Luke centered a line with Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville and could play in that role in Tuesday's exhibition game against Adler Manheim. With Adam in that spot, Drew Stafford moved up to play on a line with Nathan Gerbe and Derek Roy, while Boyes played with Ville Leino and Tyler Ennis. The fourth line was a rotating trio of fashioned from four forwards --  Patrick Kaleta, Paul Gaustad, Matt Ellis and Cody McCormick -- while Hecht took part while wearing a non-contact jersey.

So, can the 21-year old Luke make the Sabres after his first pro season, which saw him score 62 points in 57 AHL games, as well as 4 points in a 19-game cameo with the Sabres?

"Right now, we are still in the evaluation process, you know," Ruff said. Derek (Roy) is coming off injury. We'll  take another look at Luke (Tuesday) night. I think he has played well. Brad Boyes is coming off injury and I thought his last game was his best one. There are players pushing for ice time and position right now."
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Quote of the Day

Your team is going to want to recapture the feeling. What they're going to have to figure out is they're going to have to rewrite the story. Because you're going to rewrite the story doesn't mean you want a different end. It's just that you're going to have to learn that there's different challenges to get there, and if you're going to try and tap the same feeling, it ain't going to happen.

— Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi on maintaining their success from last season