Lindy Ruff

“Sabres University” embraces iPads

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The Buffalo Sabres organization has really embraced the use of technology – particularly iPads – for their “Sabres University” program, but as the team’s Web site points out, it’s not for fun stuff like playing “Angry Birds.”

Instead, the iPads run a specialized coaching “GamePlan” app that acts as the club’s first electronic textbook.

“We have all the security on here so they can’t surf the internet, download apps or music. Everything is hockey specific,” Sabres staffer Scott Schranz said. “I remember when we told all the players they were getting iPads, and they all got pretty excited about it. Then we had to remind them it was for work, not for fun.”

Lame. Couldn’t they at least let them boot up Spotify/Pandora* so they can listen to some sweet tunes while learning?

Either way, the Sabres are really taking advantage of the technology to try to teach their up-and-comers. They’re also keeping track of who’s using it.

“We track every player that takes out and returns their iPad,” Schranz said. “There’s also a built-in reporting system in the app. I can go in and look at how many times a player has logged into it, how many times they’ve reviewed a video clip, how many times they’ve downloaded video or how many times they’ve looked at the documents. We are easily able to monitor who’s using the program and who isn’t.”

Overall, it’s pretty cool and interesting, even if the Sabres seem like they’re being totally uptight about how fun the Internet can be. No LOL Cats, really?

* – The kids still use Spotify and/or Pandora, right?

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen