Sabres’ Butler played like a veteran

‘"Chris Butler probably surprised all of us with his play," coach Lindy Ruff said. "He put together basically a solid half-season for us. That is a bright spot."’

Without playoffs, Sabres take a hit

‘DiPofi said the Sabres have started their season-ticket renewal program for next year and, with little marketing so far, the team already has surpassed the 80 percent renewal rate. He said he expects a renewal rate well into the 90-percent range. “All signs are that we will hit the 14,800 mark again,” he said.’

Friday’s Portland Coverage

Pirates’ defense becomes strength (Portland Press Herald)

Generating more chances will be P-Bruins’ goal in Game Two (Providence Journal)

Absence of repeated success is Ruff’s downfall

‘The core of the Sabres formed the best minor league team in 2004-05. They led the American Hockey League with 51 victories, setting the Rochester franchise record. But in the past two seasons, they’ve faltered in the NHL. Their play hasn’t ascended the way it was predicted. Either the students don’t have the capacity to learn, or the teacher isn’t finding a way to get the lessons through.’

Should Ruff stay or should he go?

‘In the years they missed, the Sabres were either in financial trouble or trying to overcome unconscionable managerial mistakes. Too many times over the years, Ruff has been given the tools to build a garage and been asked to construct an oceanfront estate.’

In The End, Melancholy & Sadness

‘Marty Biron? Starting in net for the playoff bound Philadelphia Flyers. Mike Grier? His San Jose Sharks are demolishing the West. Boy, did he have this team pegged when he departed. J.P. Dumont? Scored 65 points this season and the Preds are back in the playoffs. Brian Campbell? The Blackhawks are back in the playoffs for first time in who knows how long. Jay McKee? Don’t look now but the St. Louis Blues are also in the playoffs, and McKee has been healthy all season. Daniel Briere and Chris Drury? Let’s not even go there, except to say you can watch those guys on TV these next few weeks.’

Thursday’s Portland Coverage

Pirates strike quickly (Portland Press Herald)

Pirates beat P-Bruins, 3-0, in Game One (Providence Journal)

Pirates take early lead in semifinal series (Maine Hockey Journal)

Pirates Blank Bruins in Game One (PortlandPirates.com)

P-Bruins fall to Pirates 3-0 (ProvidenceBruins.com)

Numminen weighing options

‘“I don’t intend anything,” Numminen said. “I just intend to take a little vacation and go home, see the kids. Seriously, just take a couple weeks off… hopefully get to Cleveland, see the doctors… see how my condition is… and start from there. That is the first step.”’

Pominville, Sabres know there&#8217s room for improvement

‘“I feel defensively I did my part,” he said. “Obviously, the first stat you’ll look at is the plus-minus. But you’ve got to look at the side where you’re not scoring. Most nights you’re playing against the other teams’ top lines. They’re scoring against you and you’re not scoring. So you’re going to get in the minuses.”‘

Sabres’ Miller laments playoff-less spring

‘”We had injuries, but we had them the first time we went deep into the playoffs,” said Miller, citing the 2005-06 team that lost in the Eastern Conference Finals in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes. “(Danny) Briere had a sports hernia, (J.P.) Dumont too. The bottom line is you have to find a way to compete.”‘

Wednesday’s Portland Coverage

Pirates’ defense receives a boost (Portland Press Herald)

P-Bruins, Pirates to renew AHL playoff rivalry (Providence Journal)

Pirates more than ready for the challenge (Maine Hockey Journal)

Sobotka assigned to P-Bruins (ProvidenceBruins.com)

Plenty of questions for Sabres

‘“We had some ups and downs and we couldn’t find that consistency,” Sabres center Derek Roy said. “I think it’s we’re a young team and we keep saying that every year. So at some point in time we have to mature as individuals. I think going forward toward next year we got to bring it every game; bring that fire, bring that level of compete out every game.”’

Sabres record against also-rans tells tale

‘Against Ottawa, Atlanta, Tampa Bay and the New York Islanders, the total was a hideous 5-8-5. That’s just 15 of a possible 36 points and that’s your season. Going 1-4-1 against Ottawa and 0-0-4 against Atlanta will resonate all summer.’

Where do Sabres go from here?

‘Regier should be fired. For all the criticism I’ve directed at him over the years, I always liked and respected the guy. Our job descriptions were bound to collide. It’s nothing personal. It’s simply time for a change after they missed the playoffs five times in seven years.’

Roy to see another side of Ruff at worlds

‘“To see a lighter side of Lindy will be great,” Roy said. “It’s definitely a different style of game. I’m sure he’ll talk to some past coaches. It’s more laid back and the players are all great.”’