Cody Hodgson

Tonight on NBCSN: Red hot Sabres and Avalanche clash in Buffalo


Rewind a couple months ago and if we’d told you that tonight’s Sabres-Avalanche game in Buffalo (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) would be a battle between teams fighting for a spot in the playoffs, you would’ve laughed. Instead, that’s right where we are and both teams come into the game playing great lately.

Buffalo has won nine of their last 12 games and most of that credit is due to superstar goalie Ryan Miller. Miller’s outstanding play in the second half of the season has saved the Sabres’ year and has them sitting four points back of the Capitals for eighth in the East. While Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville’s offense carried them early in the year, they’ve gone cold of late.

The addition of Cody Hodgson to the team has helped balance out their lines, but he’s yet to score a point as a Sabre, something that source: APhad Hodgson practicing on the fourth line yesterday. If Hodgson’s arrival has done anything of late, it’s inspired Tyler Ennis to play better. He scored twice in the Sabres win over Montreal including a spectacular highlight reel special.

Colorado, on the other hand, we’ve already seen this week winning in overtime against the Ducks. In that game, Gabriel Landeskog (pictured) showed why he might be the favorite for the Calder Trophy scoring the game-winner. Landeskog’s play along with how well Ryan O’Reilly has played all season have given the Avs a young push they’ve needed. The play of those guys has even inspired Paul Stastny to play better this season.

That said, if there’s a guy the Avs have to thank for playing better in the second half it’s Semyon Varlamov. He’s playing big, strong, and confident in Colorado now and it’s paying off for the Avs as they’re in the mix for the seventh and eighth spot in the Western Conference. While Colorado will have to duke it out with Phoenix, San Jose, Los Angeles, and Calgary if they can keep playing how they are now, they could wind up clear of the dog fight going on now.

Sens demote former first-rounder Puempel

Matt Puempel
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Looks like Matt Puempel won’t be making the leap after all.

Puempel, the subject of Ottawa’s “looking to make the leap” profile during our Team of the Day series, has been sent down to AHL Binghamton one day prior to the Sens’ opener against Buffalo.

Puempel, taken by Ottawa in the first round (24th overall) at the ’11 draft, made his big-league debut last season and looked as though he’d stick around — only to suffer a high ankle sprain after 13 games, and miss the rest of the season.

The 22-year-old came into this year’s camp looking to secure a full-time position at the big league level, but was beaten out by Shane Prince for the final forward spot on the roster.

To be fair, contract status probably played a role. Prince would’ve had to clear waivers to get down to Bingo, whereas Puempel didn’t.

A former 30-goal scorer in the American League, Puempel is expected to get another look with Ottawa this season.

Report: Torres won’t appeal 41-game suspension


Sounds like Raffi Torres is accepting his punishment.

Per Sportsnet, Torres won’t appeal his 41-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.

The report comes just days after the NHL’s Department of Player Safety levied one of the longest disciplinary rulings in league history, citing both the severity of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ lengthy history of suspensions, fines and warnings.

There was some thought, however, that Torres would try to challenge the ruling.


He does have a history of success in that department. In 2012,Torres successfully appealed his suspension for a headshot on Chicago’s Marian Hossa, and had his punishment reduced from 25 games to 21.

Torres also isn’t considered a “repeat offender” under the current collective bargaining agreement, as his last suspension came in 2013.

Of course, part of that clean record is due to the fact he hasn’t played much. Torres has largely been sidelined by injury for the last two seasons, missing all of last year with knee problems.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman delved further into the repeat offender thing in his latest 30 Thoughts column:

If you read the relevant sections of the CBA, the league takes the position that the repeat offender status is only applicable to fines. Repeaters are fined on a per-game basis, non-repeaters on a per-day basis. (The former is more expensive, because there are fewer games than days in an NHL season.) However, if you go to Section 18.2, among the factors taken into account are, “the status of the offender and, specifically, whether the Player has a history of being subject to Supplementary Discipline for On-Ice Conduct.”

So, in the NHL’s view, a player’s history is relevant, even if longer than 18 months ago.

Should the report prove accurate and Torres doesn’t appeal, he will be eligible to return to action on Jan. 14, when the Sharks take on the Oilers.