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Posted On Friday, 04.26.2013 / 1:09 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Islanders focused on moving up in standings

BUFFALO -- The New York Islanders have clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but find themselves in eighth place heading into their final game of the regular season Friday night. When the Islanders take on the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center, they'll have an opportunity to improve that position.

At 54 points, they're in a three-way tie with the sixth-place Ottawa Senators and the seventh-place New York Rangers. Ottawa has two games remaining while the Rangers have one. Both the Senators and Rangers are idle on Friday.

The Islanders are coming off a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. It was New York's first regulation loss in 12 games. They were on an 8-0-3 run and are 11-2-3 in their past 16 games, but 0-1-1 in their past two.

"I just want to get back -- and I know the guys want to get back -- to playing the way that we want to play. Win or lose, we just have to make sure we play our style," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said.


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Posted On Monday, 04.22.2013 / 1:27 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Redmond skating with Jets, no timetable on return

BUFFALO -- Zach Redmond skated with the Winnipeg Jets during their morning skate at First Niagara Center on Monday after the team recalled the rookie defenseman from a conditioning stint with St. John's of the American Hockey League.

Redmond has been out since Feb. 21 when an artery and vein in his right leg were cut by a skate during practice. Surgery was required to repair the injury.

Jets coach Claude Noel said there is no timetable for Redmond's return to the lineup, as he wants to work to build more strength in that leg.

"It's unbelievable that in a matter of six weeks, he's back. It's really hard to fathom," Noel said. "When he went down, we didn't really know what would take place. We were hopeful, but not like this."

The Jets are well aware that they will likely have to win their final three games to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.


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Posted On Friday, 04.19.2013 / 12:28 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Sabres get set for must-win against Rangers

BUFFALO -- For the Buffalo Sabres, it's essentially win or start thinking about next season.

The Sabres face what comes down to an elimination game Friday night when they host the New York Rangers at First Niagara Center.

Buffalo, 10th in the Eastern Conference with 44 points, trails eighth-place New York by four points. The Sabres have four games remaining including Friday; the Rangers have five games left. The Rangers hold the tiebreaker with five more non-shootout wins than the Sabres.

A regulation win by New York would eliminate Buffalo from qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. A Sabres victory would keep their hopes alive for at least one more day.

Due to circumstances in Boston, Buffalo's game at the Pittsburgh Penguins scheduled for Saturday has been moved to Tuesday. The Sabres will next play Monday at home against the Winnipeg Jets.

"We have to take care of our own destiny in that aspect," Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston said. "We've been that way for a while, just concentrating on one game and playing our best in that game. That'll be the same case [Friday]."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.11.2013 / 1:04 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Canadiens can reach first goal by clinching playoffs

BUFFALO -- The Montreal Canadiens have a chance to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Thursday and the players are well aware of that opportunity.

The Canadiens can qualify for the playoffs with a win against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center, or if they earn one point against the Sabres and the Florida Panthers defeat the Winnipeg Jets in any fashion Thursday.

"At the start of this season, your first goal is to get into the playoffs, and we have an opportunity tonight to reach that first goal," Canadiens alternate captain Josh Gorges said. "I think we have to understand and respect the importance of tonight's game and understand the opponent that we're facing too."

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Posted On Sunday, 04.07.2013 / 12:36 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Youthful flavor working for Sabres, interim coach

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres will look to make it three wins in a row while the New Jersey Devils hope to snap a three-game losing streak when the teams meet at First Niagara Center on Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

Thomas Vanek, Buffalo's leading scorer, will miss his sixth game in a row with an upper-body injury. He did not participate in the team's morning skate Sunday, but interim coach Ron Rolston said it was not due to a setback; Vanek was scheduled to have the day off. Rolston said Vanek would practice again Monday.

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Posted On Friday, 04.05.2013 / 1:16 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Senators to debut Conacher on all-rookie line

BUFFALO -- Cory Conacher will make his debut with the Ottawa Senators on Friday against the Buffalo Sabres on an all-rookie line.

The undrafted rookie will play alongside center Mika Zibanejad and right wing Jakob Silfverberg on Ottawa's second line. Conacher had nine goals and 15 assists in 35 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning this season before being traded to the Senators on Wednesday for goaltender Ben Bishop.

"I think we have a lot of speed on our line. Those two guys that I'm playing with are guys that are very confident with the puck and they're very patient," Conacher said. "They know how to make plays and, like I said, they're fast too, so they'll take pucks to the net pretty quick. So you've got to be ready for that."

Conacher grew up in Toronto and played at Canisius College in Buffalo, so he's expecting a big turnout of fans and family for the game.

"We certainly feel that motivation isn't going to be a concern for him. It might be over the top if it's going to be anything," Senators coach Paul MacLean said.

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Posted On Sunday, 03.31.2013 / 1:29 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Vanek will miss third straight game; Enroth may start

BUFFALO – The Buffalo Sabres will be without leading scorer Thomas Vanek for a third straight game.

Vanek took the ice along with forward John Scott and goaltender Ryan Miller following a team meeting Sunday morning. After the skate, Vanek told reporters that he would not be able to play Sunday night when the Sabres host the Boston Bruins.

“Today went a lot better than yesterday, but [I’m] still not where I would like it to be, so I just have to be patient, which is obviously a tough thing to do in the position we’re at,” Vanek said.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.30.2013 / 8:08 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013 Trade Deadline blog

Regier: Nobody on Sabres is untouchable

BUFFALO – No one on the Buffalo Sabres is untouchable.

With the Sabres in 13th place in the Eastern Conference heading into Saturday’s game against the Washington Capitals and the trade deadline on Wednesday, Buffalo general manager Darcy Regier indicated that the team will be looking to improve with a focus on the future and that any player could be involved in trade discussions.

Earlier in the day, Regier traded veteran defenseman and upcoming unrestricted free agent Jordan Leopold to the St. Louis Blues for a second-round and a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft that could turn into a fourth-round if the Blues win a playoff round. Depending on how trade talks go over the next few days, the Sabres may not be done making moves.


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Posted On Saturday, 03.30.2013 / 1:21 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Vanek out for Sabres against Capitals

BUFFALO -- Thomas Vanek will miss his second straight game with an upper-body injury when the Buffalo Sabres take on the Washington Capitals at First Niagara Center on Saturday.

Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston said Vanek possibly could return on Sunday for Buffalo’s home game against the Boston Bruins.

Vanek, Buffalo's leading scorer, took part in the team’s optional skate Saturday morning.

“He was out there today and moving, but he’s not where he needs to be,” Rolston said.

Washington defenseman Jeff Schultz will return to its lineup after sitting out the past four games as a healthy scratch.

“Sometimes you ask a guy to step back and re-evaluate themselves. We’ve got two games in two nights and we need him,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “We need his size and he need him to be a force. Hopefully it [was] a little bit of a wake-up call.”

Jhonas Enroth will start in goal for Buffalo against Braden Holtby. Each team plays three games in the next four nights.

Here are the projected lineups for Saturday:

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Posted On Thursday, 03.21.2013 / 11:46 AM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Vanek will miss Sabres' game vs. Maple Leafs

BUFFALO -- Thomas Vanek will not be in the lineup Thursday night when the Buffalo Sabres take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at First Niagara Center.

Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston told the media after the team's morning skate that Vanek is still sore from being hit with a shot in the second period on Tuesday in Montreal.

Vanek was in front of the net on a Buffalo power play when he was struck by defenseman Christian Ehrhoff's shot from the point. The Sabres are calling it a lower-body injury. Vanek did not take the ice Thursday.

"He's better today," Rolston said. "He feels, actually, good and starting the process, so we're hoping to get him on the ice tomorrow."


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Posted On Tuesday, 03.12.2013 / 1:10 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Enroth to start again for Sabres

BUFFALO Jhonas Enroth will start in goal for the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday against the New York Rangers as Ryan Miller deals with a sinus infection. Miller will serve as the backup.

It will be Enroth’s fourth start this season. He most recently got the nod on Thursday against the New Jersey Devils but left the game after cramping up late in the third period.

Miller had started 14 straight games before Thursday night.

Enroth is 0-2-0 this season with a 3.94 goals-against average and an .871 save percentage. He made 27 saves in New Jersey but had to be helped off the ice after allowing the game-tying goal with 1:06 left in regulation.

“We’d certainly like him to build off of that last game because I know that was one of the best games that I’ve seen him play since I’ve been in the organization,” Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston said of Enroth following the team’s optional morning skate.

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Posted On Saturday, 02.23.2013 / 1:01 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Islanders send down DiPietro to work on game

BUFFALO -- The New York Islanders were one goaltender short when they took the ice for their morning skate at First Niagara Center on Saturday.

The team waived Rick DiPietro on Friday and had to wait until he cleared waivers at noon Saturday before they could call up Kevin Poulin of the American Hockey League's Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Evgeni Nabokov was the lone goaltender at practice.

Islanders coach Jack Capuano said the move was made so DiPietro could get more ice time and work on his game. In three NHL games this season, DiPietro is 0-3-0 with a 4.10 goals-against average and an .855 save percentage.

"Rick hasn't played in a while. It's not a demotion by any means," Capuano said. "From an organizational standpoint and for Rick, just to go down and get some games because he hasn't had many games."

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.19.2013 / 1:34 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Missed coverage earns Leopold spot on sideline

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- As the Buffalo Sabres try to tighten up defensively, coach Lindy Ruff will make veteran defenseman Jordan Leopold a healthy scratch Tuesday, when the Sabres play host to the Winnipeg Jets at First Niagara Center.

Buffalo has given up 33.8 shots per game, more than any team in the NHL. Only the Florida Panthers (56) have allowed more non-shootout goals than the 54 the Sabres have given up.

"It's not the first time I've ever sat and watched a game," Leopold said. "You learn from it. It creates a fire underneath you and urges you to get better."

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Posted On Friday, 02.15.2013 / 1:20 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Bruins, Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres open a three-game homestand Friday while the visiting Boston Bruins embark on the first of a five-game road trip. The teams meet at First Niagara Center for their third of five matchups this season and the second in a week.

The Sabres won the first game, 7-4, in Boston on Jan. 31 and the Bruins came back to win, 3-1, Sunday in Buffalo. The two teams have become quite familiar with each other in the last week, but will not play each other again until March 31.

Buffalo is coming off its first two-day break since Jan. 22-23 after playing at the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.

"We had a good day off. We had a real good practice yesterday, and when we talk about energy level, it should be right at the top," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.

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Posted On Sunday, 02.10.2013 / 1:27 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Sabres could get Regehr back on blue line

BUFFALO, N.Y. -– With the Buffalo Sabres' defense getting healthier, coach Lindy Ruff has some decisions to make in terms of who will play and who will sit. Andrej Sekera returned to the lineup on Saturday and they could get another veteran back on Sunday when they host the Boston Bruins.

Robyn Regher has missed the last seven games with a lower-body injury but he feels he'll be ready to go Sunday night.

"It's been a couple of weeks. I feel pretty good out there," Regehr said. "I told Lindy that I feel like I'm ready to play, so it's up to him to decide what the next move is."

Ruff also said that defenseman Tyler Myers will be a game-time decision. He was a healthy scratch for the first time this season for their game on Saturday against the New York Islanders. He was on the ice for an extended period of time Sunday morning, so it's expected that he will be scratched for the second straight game.

"[Myers] hasn’t defended well, obviously," Ruff said. "He's made some decisions that have been tough decisions on the ice, some gambles that have turned into goals against. We've tried to help him with those decisions.

"I think he's caught in between where he wants to create offense and he's put himself in a tough position defensively on some of these, so we're trying to help him through it."

Center Mikhail Grigorenko participated in the team's optional skate Sunday morning and was out on the ice for nearly an hour. He said he was told he would take part in the pregame warm-up but he was not sure if or how much he would be playing Sunday night. Ruff indicated that his ice time will vary from game to game, and in some cases he may not play at all.

Defenseman TJ Brennan is also expected to be a healthy scratch. The Sabres will have to make a roster move if they activate Regehr from injured reserve.

The Bruins had their home game on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning postponed due to inclement weather. The team held a full practice on Sunday in Buffalo.

"It was one of those days where you did a lot more office work than you did hockey work," Bruins coach Claude Julien said.

With the postponement on Saturday, Boston has been off since Wednesday while the Sabres will play their third game in four nights on Sunday.

Julien declared forwards Brad Marchand (upper body), Daniel Paille (upper body) and Shawn Thornton game-time decisions for Sunday. They all may take part in the pregame warm-up.

As for a starting goaltender, Anton Khudobin left the ice first after practice, but that doesn’t mean Tuukka Rask will be watching the game from the bench.

"They don't even know [who will be starting]," Julien said. "I told them both to be ready."

The Bruins' projected lineup:

Milan Lucic / Brad MarchandDavid KrejciTyler Seguin

Nathan HortonPatrice Bergeron – Rich Peverly

Daniel Paille / Lane MacDermidGregory CampbellShawn Thornton

Chris BourqueChris KellyJamie Tardif

Zdeno CharaJohnny Boychuk

Dougie HamiltonDennis Seidenberg

Andrew FerenceAdam McQuaid

Aaron Johnson

Tuukka Rask

Anton Khudobin

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Posted On Thursday, 02.07.2013 / 11:48 AM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Ehrhoff to take warm-ups, could play for Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff may be back in the Buffalo Sabres lineup Thursday night when the team hosts the Montreal Canadiens at First Niagara Center.

Ehrhoff missed Buffalo's game in Ottawa on Tuesday with a muscle strain. Adam Pardy was recalled from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League and made his Sabres debut against the Senators. Pardy played 18:25 and recorded an assist in the 4-3 loss.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said seven defensemen, including Ehrhoff, will take part in pregame warm-ups Thursday. A decision will be made after that. Ehrhoff is Buffalo's highest-scoring defenseman this season with five points and has averaged a team-high 23:54 of ice time per game.

"Early indications are [Ehrhoff] should be able to make it, but no guarantee yet," Ruff said.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.29.2013 / 1:11 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Brennan, Weber in on Sabres' blue line

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres will mix things up on the blue line as they prepare for their home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

Defensemen TJ Brennan and Mike Weber will replace Robyn Regehr and Alexander Sulzer in the lineup. Regehr will miss the game with what Sabres coach Lindy Ruff called an "undisclosed lower-body injury" while Sulzer will be a healthy scratch. Ruff expects Regehr will only be out in the short term.

Brennan and Weber have been healthy scratches through Buffalo’s first five games.

"You want guys that are chomping at the bit to play," Ruff said. "They're excited to play and full of energy. We'll tone them down from there."

The Sabres will have leading scorer Thomas Vanek back in the lineup after he missed Buffalo's game on Sunday against the Washington Capitals with a muscle strain. Buffalo also announced on Tuesday that 18-year-old center Mikhail Grigorenko will stay with the club for the remainder of the season.

On the Maple Leafs side, defenseman Mike Komisarek will miss the game with an eye injury. Coach Randy Carlyle said Komisarek received a suture in his eye at a visit to the doctor on Monday.

“Komisarek, at the end of practice [Monday] experienced a little fibreglass chip in the eye,” coach Randy Carlyle said after Tuesday's morning practice.

Komisarek visited the doctor again Tuesday and while he was cleared to play, the Maple Leafs coaching staff decided to shut him down for the night as a precautionary measure.

Carlyle was vague about how Komisarek injured his eye.

"It was one of those things that you'd like to take back in your life, I think, when you do something stupid," Carlyle said. "It was crazy."

Jake Gardiner may play for Toronto on Tuesday, but Carlyle feels no pressure to put the defenseman in the lineup. Gardiner injured his head and neck in a game on Dec. 8 while with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. He returned to the Maple Leafs lineup on Jan. 23 after missing the first two games of the NHL season.

"There's a need to get him back on track, but I don't think there's any pressure on us to play Jake Gardiner in any of the situations we're presented with right now. It's a coach's decision whether he plays or doesn't play," Carlyle said.

Forward Clarke MacArthur did not partake in the morning skate and is "very doubtful" for the game, according to Carlyle.

James Reimer will start in goal for the Maple Leafs, and Ryan Miller will start for the Sabres.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.29.2013 / 1:00 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Grigorenko happy to be staying with Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Mikhail Grigorenko is staying with the Buffalo Sabres.

General manager Darcy Regier and coach Lindy Ruff gave the 18-year-old center the good news Tuesday morning. Following a five-game tryout, the Sabres could have returned Grigorenko to the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, but decided that it would be best to keep him in the NHL for the duration of the season.

The Sabres selected Grigorenko with the 12th pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. For Grigorenko, knowing that a decision was made one way or the other was a big relief.

"Today coming to the rink, I was a little bit nervous. I didn't know what to expect. Finally, they told me I was staying so I'm really happy," Grigorenko said after the morning skate Tuesday.

"Well, I think by the smile on his face, it was a quite a big relief,” Ruff said of Grigorenko's reaction to the news.

Regier said two things mainly went into the decision.

"First, the ability to continue to continue his development in conjunction with his ability to help us win hockey games," Regier said.

Grigorenko played a career-high 17:10 on Sunday against the Washington Capitals. He has not registered a point through five games, but the Sabres front office liked enough of what they saw to keep him on the roster.

Both Grigorenko and the Sabres' front office understand that the hard work does not stop now that he has made the team, but it must continue throughout his career.

“We talked about the work he put in and the work he’s going to have to put in. He’s earned this opportunity,” Ruff said.

While Grigorenko found out before the skate, his teammates did not learn about the decision until they were about to leave the ice. Ruff gathered the team near the boards on the opposite side of the Buffalo bench and made the announcement. The team tapped their sticks on the ice in congratulations and a few teammates gave the rookie a good face wash.

“It’s cool. It’s awesome. I know everyone’s excited,” Sabres captain Jason Pominville said. “I don’t know if you saw the reaction on the ice, but guys were pretty happy for him. He’s made some big strides. He’s improved in every game he’s played in. I think last game was probably his best.”

Grigorenko will dress in his sixth NHL game on Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs at First Niagara Center.

"I think it’s a really good step in my career. I’ll do everything to show people that they made the right choice,” Grigorenko said. “It’s really good to know that I’m staying with the team and I can focus on the hockey now and not think about all those [other] things."

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Posted On Friday, 01.25.2013 / 12:36 PM

By Chris Ryndak -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Ruff says Leino doesn't need surgery -- yet

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Buffalo Sabres forward Ville Leino has not played this season due to a hip injury. He was placed on injured reserve before Thursday night’s game at the Carolina Hurricanes, but Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said he does not anticipate Leino needing surgery.

"There's no talk about surgery right now. We might as well just squash that," Ruff said. "Maybe down the road it happens; I don't know. Right now, there are some other treatment options that are possible."

Leino took the ice this morning at First Niagara Center in an optional skate with Cody McCormick, who also is on injured reserve, and anticipated healthy scratches Matt Ellis, TJ Brennan and Mike Weber. The Sabres and Hurricanes face each other in the second game of a back-to-back home-and-home series tonight at 7 p.m. Carolina won last night’s contest, 6-3.

Ruff told the media after this morning’s team meeting that Leino has been re-examined and had an MRI eaxam. The MRI looked “OK.” Among other treatments, they’ve tried giving Leino some rest.

"These hip things are things that can go in a lot of different directions," Ruff said. "We've had one player last year that had the same treatment Ville's going through and has been good ever since."

Leino skated for 20 minutes today before his hip started to tighten up again, according to Ruff. No timetable has been set as to when he will return to the lineup.

"We're going to do everything we possibly can to get him healthy," Ruff said. "We're just going to see where it goes."

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Quote of the Day

I'm just excited about the opportunity. I've been on the ice earlier than usual and in the weight room, pushing around a little more weights than usual. Every day I go into a workout with a smile on my face and ready to go. When you do have a little more responsibility, you want to take your lunch pail and get ready to work.

— Brian Elliott to Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch on being the Blues' No. 1 goalie