Buffalo is sad

NHL on NBC: Sad-sack Sabres host Pittsburgh


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Pity the Buffalo sports fan – so optimistic, then so disappointed.

The Bills start out 5-2, lose eight of their next nine, and finish 6-10.

The Sabres add millions upon millions to the payroll, and entering Sunday’s home game versus Pittsburgh (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) have approximately the same odds of making the NHL playoffs as, well, the Bills do of making the NHL playoffs.

Happy Hockey Day in America, Buffalo!

The Sabres enter Sunday’s game coming off their fourth straight defeat, 4-3 in a shootout to Montreal on Friday at the First Niagara Center. The loss dropped Buffalo into a tie for last place in the Eastern Conference, leaving coach Lindy Ruff to state the obvious.

“Obviously, I’m very disappointed, embarrassed,” Ruff said. “We’ve dealt with a lot, but to be where we’re at is a big disappointment.”

The Penguins have dealt with a lot this season as well – specifically the absence of captain Sidney Crosby (concussion) for all but eight games, plus the extended absences due to injury of forward Jordan Staal and defenseman Kris Letang.

However, unlike Buffalo, Pittsburgh will almost certainly be making the playoffs.

The Penguins earned a big win over in-state rival Philadelphia on Saturday, defeating the Flyers 6-4. It was an odd affair, highlighted by a pair of shorthanded goals scored less than two minutes apart — Jordan Staal scored 4-on-5, Matt Cooke scored 3-on-5 — with the guy that put Pittsburgh shorthanded, Pascal Dupuis, realizing how big a victory it was.

“That’s huge,” Dupuis said. “[The Flyers] were ahead of us in the standings, and you want to catch teams, especially down the stretch like that. It was a big win for us.”

The Penguins will look for a second consecutive win Sunday against a Buffalo team they’ve enjoyed success against this season. Pittsburgh embarrassed Buffalo the last time out by an 8-3 score, highlighted by a five-point effort from Evgeni Malkin, who also notched a hat-trick. That outing was especially tough for both Sabres netminders — Ryan Miller allowed five goals on 15 shots and backup Jhonas Enroth didn’t fare much better, allowing three goals on 11.

Derek Roy signs in Swiss league

Derek Roy, Jeremy Smith, Chris Kelly
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Derek Roy has finally found work — but it’s not in the NHL.

Roy, who spent the entire preseason in Washington’s camp on a PTO, has signed with SC Bern of Switzerland’s National League A, the club announced on Friday.

The news comes after Roy narrowly missed out on making the Caps roster, and just one year after he had something of a bounce-back campaign in Edmonton, scoring 22 points in 46 games while developing chemistry with young winger Nail Yakupov.

A 12-year NHL veteran, Roy is one of the more prominent names to be squeezed out of work this season, and head overseas. The 31-year-old has scored over 500 points in 738 career contests, and has twice represented Canada at the World Hockey Championships.

With Bern, Roy will play on one of Switzerland’s stronger teams, alongside a trio of ex-NHLers: Chuck Kobasew, Andrew Ebbett and Cory Conacher.

Lehner’s injury ‘doesn’t look like it’s short term’

Robin Lehner
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Robin Lehner might not be back anytime soon.

Making his debut with the Buffalo Sabres, the 24-year-old goaltender couldn’t complete Thursday’s game against his former squad, the Ottawa Senators, due to what has now been revealed to be a right leg injury.

When he left the arena, he was wearing a walking boot on that nearly went up to his knee.

“It doesn’t look like it’s short term,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told the Buffalo News. “It’s more than day-to-day at this point, but we need to evaluate further.”

It’s a rocky start to what’s an important campaign for Lehner. He has been given an opportunity to demonstrate that he’s ready to be a starting goaltender after being acquired by the Sabres over the summer, but it looks like that will have to be postponed.

While he’s sidelined, Chad Johnson is likely to be leaned on heavily.