'This is an organization that couldn’t lure any of the big-name free agents – and most middle-tier NHLers, too – to sign with them last summer. They were laughed at by most members of the media, including yours truly (and often, cluelessly). And while doubters keep waiting for their ship to sink, GM Darcy Regier, coach Lindy Ruff, and their players keep sailing along. They should stop waiting, and start appreciating. The season is 50 games old, and this group of not-quite-there-yets, forgotten-abouts and counted-outs is for real.'
'Oh, attendance is up in company with that winning record, but the Sabres remain a grand story supporting financial parity that goes largely unnoticed.'
Thrashers try to snap five-game slide as Sabres come to town (Sportsticker)
Buffalo Sabres (31-15-3) at Atlanta Thrashers (23-23-6) (The Sports Network)
'"I think I need to get more consistent, but it's still my first year. I'm getting used to playing every night at the same level. But I can tell I get more comfortable every five games or so, so hopefully I can not be as streaky as I've been in the past and play consistent the next 30-some games."'
'LW Ilya Kovalchuk is on pace for 57 goals and 53 assists.'
Two Amerks at All-Star Game (RNews.com)
Paolini and the Moose to visit the Charlotte Library (Amerks.com)
'"We just need to play every night the way we've been playing the entire year," Miller said. "I don't think we need to turn it up a level. I think the intensity will follow, and it should just be there."'
'"We'll start with your height. At 5'8, you are the shortest guy on the team. Do any of the guys on the team play jokes on you?"
Derek Roy: "A couple of guys call me umpaloompa and things like that. Since I'm one of the smallest guys in the league, it's pretty funny around the dressing room."'
'Briere skated Sunday for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia earlier in the month. He's expected to be out until March. Connolly, who leads the team with 29 assists, hurt his left knee last week after a questionable hit by New York Rangers defenseman Darius Kasparaitis. He will be lost for at least another five weeks. Mair is still trying to recover from a concussion sustained against Phoenix on Jan. 12.'
'Large and physical fourth-line center Paul Gaustad, not exactly a bonus baby as a seventh-round draft pick in 2000, made the team out of training camp and is out-pacing Pyatt's average campaign at less than half the salary.'
'Forward Taylor Pyatt skated with the team Sunday. He’s been taken off the I.R. and cleared to play for the first time since breaking his right wrist back on November 25. Ruff says Pyatt will be a game time decision on Tuesday.'
'Calgary video goal judge Doug Young may have officiated his last NHL game after botching the call on Robyn Regehr's kicked-in game-winner against Buffalo two weekends ago. The league, which called Sabres GM Darcy Regier to apologize for the oversight, told the Sun it was "handling it internally." Young isn't talking at all and hasn't returned the Sun's call.'
'"I think, quite honestly, he's continuing to get better," Regier said. "First of all, he believes in his players, and I think over the years he has a better understanding of their abilities and from that is able to help them more by, at times, demanding more or persuading them that they're capable of more."'
'Roy plays every shift and game like it's his last. It's a theme found throughout the entire Buffalo lineup. With almost two thirds of the season in the books, the Sabres are not only primed for the playoffs, but eyeing home-ice advantage.'
'Ruff probably would have been fired several times had he worked for any other organization, any other GM. His club hasn't made the playoffs since 2001 and hasn't won more than one round since almost taking the Cup. But Darcy Regier cut his organizational teeth with the dynastic New York Islanders and knew the stability he was after when he assumed control of the Sabres six weeks before hiring Ruff.'