The Buffalo Sabres are the only team in the Eastern Conference not opening its season today and coach Lindy Ruff said he’s OK with yet another day without a game after waiting since April 7 to play one.
Ruff revealed Friday that NHL teams got a video presentation and memo from the league about some rules of emphasis for the new season and he’ll be paying close attention to what referees whistle today.
“There are a lot of things we’ll look at,” Ruff said. “How the games are being called, what’s being called. At least we get a one-game look to try to prepare our team for some calls.”
Specifically, Ruff said the NHL is cracking down on players using their hands to get better position on faceoffs, players covering the puck with their hands in the defensive zone and enforcing more awareness on slashing.
“I like the fact we’re going to get to watch what’s in the league one night,” Ruff said. “I’m anxious to play. There’s a little bit of nervousness and you might find that hard to believe after all these years but I’m ready to get going.”
Why is the NHL’s longest-tenured coach nervous?
“There’s nothing to base this off of,” Ruff said. “No preseason games to say we did this good or that good, this guy looks good or that guy looks good. Sometimes your guys look really good against each other in practice then they don’t look so good against other NHL players.”
Sabres owner Terry Pegula will hold a season-preview news conference today at noon in the Lexus Club with team president Ted Black and General Manager Darcy Regier.
Pegula spoke briefly in the fall at a news conference announcing the team’s plans for the $123 million construction on the Webster Block in front of First Niagara Center. He has not done a news conference regarding the Sabres since the end of the 2010-11 season, his first as the team’s owner.
Pegula stepped out of the media limelight in the months after he took over the team, with Black acting as the club’s official spokesman on most league and off-ice matters. In his role as team governor, Black cast the Sabres’ vote in favor of ending the lockout when the NHL Board of Governors met Jan. 9 in New York.
The Flyers officially ruled out former Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere for their two weekend games, today’s opener against Pittsburgh and Sunday’s game here.
Briere is recovering from a hairline fracture of his wrist but the Flyers are hopeful he could return as soon as next week.
Former Sabres center Tim Connolly cleared waivers Friday and the Toronto Maple Leafs sent him and his $4.75 million salary to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL. Oddly enough, Connolly has never played a game in the minor leagues; he went directly from the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League to 81 games with the New York Islanders as an 18-year-old in during the 1999-2000 season.
The Sabres will wrap up training camp with another public practice today at 10:30 a.m. Admission is free and so is parking in the arena ramp. Fans should note, however, that today’s session will be a normal day-before-game practice, which means activity will be ramped down and the workout will only last for about 45 minutes. Other practices this week have ranged from 90 minutes-2 hours.
There were about 1,500 fans in the stands Friday morning and more are expected today. The 50 percent off sale continues in the Sabres Store.
Gates will open Sunday at 10:15 a.m. for the season opener. Concession stands will offer family-friendly pricing on the following items: popcorn for $1, peanuts for $2, a hot dog/potato chip combo for $3 and a souvenir Sabres soda for $4.25.