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Posted On Sunday, 03.09.2014 / 2:13 PM

By Joe Yerdon - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Conacher to debut for Sabres against Blackhawks

BUFFALO – Cory Conacher will make his Buffalo Sabres debut when they host the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Conacher was picked up on waivers Wednesday from the Ottawa Senators, but hasn't been able to play due to visa issues. With those problems taken care of, Conacher, who played hockey at Canisius College in Buffalo, will make his first start with the Sabres at home.

"It's nice to be back here," Conacher said. "Ever since I came here with Canisius, it was a city I fell in love with pretty quick. It's close to home for me, so I probably have a lot of tickets to account in some of these games."

Posted On Saturday, 03.08.2014 / 1:35 PM

By Joe Yerdon - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Maple Leafs' Clarkson could miss game against Flyers

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs may be without forward David Clarkson when they host the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night.

Clarkson left the optional morning skate early with a pulled muscle and is questionable to play Saturday, according to Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle.

"We have the ability to recall people, we have the ability to go with 11 [forwards] and seven [defensemen]," Carlyle said about what he might do if Clarkson can't play. "So there are some options. It's always tough when you're missing quality players, and nobody wants to do that. But in the situation, if the player is not deemed healthy by our medical staff and himself, then we have no other choice than to make decisions."

Posted On Monday, 03.03.2014 / 1:58 PM

By Joe Yerdon - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets' Umberger game-time decision

TORONTO -- The Columbus Blue Jackets could be without forward RJ Umberger when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Monday night.

Umberger left the ice early during the morning skate, putting his status in doubt to play.

"He'll be a game-time decision, but we're expecting him to play," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said.

Umberger, 31, has been a steady producer for the Blue Jackets this season with 16 goals and 31 points in 60 games. He's slated to be on a line with Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson. If he winds up out of the lineup, Corey Tropp or Blake Comeau would jump into the lineup.

Posted On Friday, 02.28.2014 / 1:00 PM

By Joe Yerdon - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Niemi back in net when Sharks face Sabres

BUFFALO -- After the San Jose Sharks disposed of the Philadelphia Flyers 7-3 in Philadelphia on Thursday, No. 1 goalie Antti Niemi will make his first start since returning from the 2014 Sochi Olympics on Friday against the Buffalo Sabres.

"I feel good," Niemi said. "Rested, but still I was skating, short skates every day. I did some work, but it wasn't long practice, lots of games every day. I think it's good for my body and also for my mind. My mind got to rest, and other than that it was great experience being there."

Posted On Wednesday, 02.26.2014 / 1:18 PM

By Joe Yerdon - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Ennis day-to-day for Sabres, won't play vs. Bruins

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres will be shorthanded when they host the Boston Bruins at First Niagara Center on Wednesday.

Coach Ted Nolan announced center Tyler Ennis will be out of the lineup with general body soreness.

"He's day-to-day, so he won't be in the lineup tonight," Nolan said. "Hopefully it's nothing too serious, just a day-to-day thing, so we'll be good."

Ville Leino will take Ennis' spot on the top line between Matt Moulson and Drew Stafford, and there's a possibility forward Zenon Konopka could re-enter the lineup. Konopka had surgery on his left pinky finger during the Olympic break and was held out of the game Tuesday aganst the Carolina Hurricanes as a precaution.

Posted On Tuesday, 02.25.2014 / 8:12 PM

By Joe Yerdon - Correspondent / - 2014 Trade Deadline blog

Sabres GM: We're open for business

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres are open for business as the NHL Trade Deadline approaches, but general manager Tim Murray said Tuesday there's not a lot of activity yet.

"Very quiet. Quieter than I guess maybe was expecting," Murray said before the start of the Sabres' game against the Carolina Hurricanes at First Niagara Center. "I thought that when everybody was back from [the] Sochi [Olympics] that there'd be a lot of calls, but I guess some guys got back yesterday and maybe they're still jetlagged. We've got a couple playing tonight so I'll give it a couple more days I guess."

The trade deadline is 3 p.m. ET on March 5. The Sabres, last in the overall NHL standings, have nine players in the final year of their contracts who can be unrestricted free agents this summer. Of those nine, goalie Ryan Miller and captain Steve Ott figure to draw the most attention from contending teams.

Posted On Tuesday, 02.25.2014 / 1:49 PM

By Joe Yerdon - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Hurricanes start playoff push with Ward healthy

BUFFALO -- With the Olympic break over, the NHL season is heading into the stretch run. The Carolina Hurricanes start their push to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on Tuesday night.

The Hurricanes enter the game three points behind the Detroit Red Wings for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, and they'll have starting goalie Cam Ward back in the lineup.

Ward hasn't played since Dec. 31 against the Montreal Canadiens because of a lower-body injury. He was the first goalie off at the morning skate and appears likely to start.

"I think it's going to be a lot like the first game of the year," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. "Everyone has high expectations. It's like a clean slate. On our part everyone is healthy. We just mentioned to our guys, right from the drop of the puck, I assume the intensity is going to be high and everyone's going to be recharged restarting, and it's going to be full bore from here to the end now."

Posted On Saturday, 02.08.2014 / 12:44 PM

By Joe Yerdon - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Defenseman Hamhuis returns for struggling Canucks

TORONTO – The Vancouver Canucks are hoping to start the break during the 2014 Sochi Olympics on a high note. The Canucks have lost six straight games and are winless in 15 of the past 19 games as they face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Center on Saturday.

Injuries have been a major problem for the Canucks, but they’ll have defenseman Dan Hamhuis back in the lineup against the Maple Leafs after he missed the past three games with an upper-body injury. Vancouver is still without four other defensemen in Kevin Bieksa, Christopher Tanev, Yannick Weber and Andrew Alberts.

The Canucks had a very light morning skate with just Eddie Lack and Roberto Luongo on the ice taking shots. Luongo was off the ice first and will likely get the start.

Fortunes have been different for the Maple Leafs. Toronto has won 10 of their past 13 games and sits one point behind second-place Tampa Bay in the Atlantic Division. The Maple Leafs have been led by the scoring of Phil Kessel, who has 13 goals and 30 points in the past 20 games.

The Maple Leafs did not hold a morning skate. Jonathan Bernier is expected to get the start for the sixth straight game.

Posted On Wednesday, 02.05.2014 / 1:33 PM

By Joe Yerdon - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Penguins' Kunitz, Niskanen game-time decisions

BUFFALO -- The Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres may be without key players when they face each other at First Niagara Center on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2, RDS2).

Penguins forward Chris Kunitz and defenseman Matt Niskanen each missed the morning skate and will be game-time decisions.

"They will just hopefully [be out for] maintenance and will be on the ice [Wednesday]," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "The rest of our lineup will be game-time [decisions]."

Posted On Monday, 02.03.2014 / 1:50 PM

By Joe Yerdon - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Sabres' Stafford returning to lineup

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres will get forward Drew Stafford back in the lineup against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday.

The 28-year-old forward sustained an upper-body injury Jan. 25 against the Columbus Blue Jackets and has missed the past four games.

"I'm feeling pretty good," Stafford said. "We'll see how it goes. I'm anxious to get back and try to pick up where I left off when I came out last time."

Stafford had five points in four games before getting hurt against the Blue Jackets and has 18 points in 46 games this season. He'll be on the top line with Tyler Ennis and Linus Omark.

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I'm a hockey player and that's what I love to do. That is what I am here for. Everything else is just a side note.

— Oilers forward Connor McDavid on moving beyond the anticipation of his long-awaited arrival in the NHL