VegasInsider.com
VI Mobile Scores and Betting OddsVI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds Be Social
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto
Horses
Soccer
Boxing/MMA
More
Betting Tools

 
Sabres' Ruff ready for season - at last

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - The only thing missing on coach Lindy Ruff's calendar is the day when the Buffalo Sabres can open training camp now that an NHL labor agreement is nearly in place.

Advertisement
Otherwise, Ruff's plans are firmly in order in preparing for a tight turnaround in which the Sabres - and everyone else - will have little time to be ready for a regular season expected to open within 10 days.

``I kept saying that we would be playing. I just thought it would be utter craziness if we didn't,'' Ruff said Wednesday. ``I just felt it would get done. ... Now our job is to come out firing and be entertaining.''

In his first comments since a tentative agreement was reached Sunday to end the four-month lockout, Ruff already has two practice schedules drawn up. One is in the event training camp opens Sunday, and another if it's pushed back a day.

With no time for the NHL to squeeze in a preseason schedule, Ruff raised the possibility of having the Sabres play a scrimmage against Rochester, their American Hockey League affiliate.

And Ruff's already penciled in his top three lines.

With a 565-422-161 record, Ruff is the Sabres' winningest coach. Entering his 16th year in Buffalo, he's also the NHL's longest active serving coach with one team.

His experience helps, as does overseeing a roster that returns mostly intact. It's a familiarity that leads Ruff to believe the Sabres might have an early edge.

``It really is going to be playing the way we know how to play,'' he said. ``We're just going to build off that late rally we had last year.''

It's been nine months since the Sabres last played. They're coming off an up-and-down season in which a rash of injuries played a key factor in the team missing the playoffs.

Buffalo (39-32-11) finished ninth in the Eastern Conference and was regarded as one of the NHL's biggest underachievers because of a high-priced lineup.

When healthy, the Sabres were competitive, particularly down the stretch in which they closed 15-5-4.

Ruff intends to have Cody Hodgson, who opened this season in Rochester, center high-scoring wingers Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville. Then there's the No. 2 line, in which Tyler Ennis will center Drew Stafford and Marcus Foligno. Over a 13-game late-season stretch, the trio combined for 21 goals and 49 points.

The Sabres made only one significant offseason move, by acquiring gritty and versatile center Steve Ott in a trade that sent center Derek Roy to Dallas.

Buffalo is set in goal with Ryan Miller, who's accustomed to a heavy workload. After struggling to overcome concussion-like symptoms early last season, Miller went 20-8-5 in appearing in 34 of Buffalo's final 36 games.

Ruff projects Miller will start between 36 and 38 games of what's expected to be a 48-game season.

The one wild-card in the mix is 18-year-old center Mikhail Grigorenko. The rookie first-round pick will take part in training camp and be given an opportunity to prove he's ready to make the immediate jump to the NHL after being drafted 12th overall in June.

The Russian-born player is in the midst of his second season playing for the Patrick Roy-coached Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Despite missing 10 games to compete in the recent World Junior Hockey championships in Russia, Grigorenko is second on the team and 12th in the league with 50 points (29 goals, 21 assists) in 30 games.

``I think he'll be able to make plays,'' Ruff said. ``I am very intrigued to see what he can do against and with top NHL players.''

The Sabres were so high on Grigorenko, that they placed him on an NHL list before the lockout began, allowing him to compete for a job with the Sabres this season. The rules are still unclear as to how many NHL games Grigorenko can play before the Sabres have to decide whether to keep him on their roster or return him to Quebec.

General manager Darcy Regier is approaching Grigorenko's tryout with an open mind.

``It'll depend on what we see, how he does, and we'll kind of go day by day,'' Regier said. ``It's really about whether or not he can step up and contribute. That will be the deciding factor.''

Ruff learned about the labor agreement being reached at around 6 a.m. Sunday, when his cellphone began buzzing. He joked that his first reaction was that people could've waited another hour to start texting him.

``I was excited, in all seriousness,'' Ruff said. ``Obviously, it's great to be back.''

Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
HEADLINES
News: First Round Series Odds
News: Playoff Betting Results
News: First Round Predictions
Pens outlast Flyers 8-5, advance to 2nd
Blue Jackets, Leafs facing elimination
G Jones helps lead Sharks into 2nd round
Vegas' Fleury had wins in mind all along
Boeser among finalists for top NHL rookie
Ducks face long summer after sweep
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NHL Pro Hockey Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NHL Hot Streaks
4-0 +598 L4, 14-4 +1,254 Streak
4-0 +433 Guarantees, 5-0 Totals
12-2 Totals, 7-3 Picks, +3,346 TY
3-1 Y'day, 8-3 G-Plays, 14-6 Totals
4-1 L5 Picks, 49-25 L74 Run
6-1 L7 Totals, +2,291 Picks TY
3-1 +268 L4, +1,504 G-Plays TY
+2,935 Net Profits This Year
+1,367 Overall This Season
NHL Pro Hockey Expert Sports Picks
2017 NHL SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Stephen Nover + 3346
Matt Fargo + 2935
Bill Marzano + 2291
Underdog Leaders
Handicapper Money
Gary Bart + 1122
Matt Fargo + 497
Bill Marzano + 35
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Stephen Nover + 3329
Bruce Marshall + 1589
Doc's Sports + 495
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Matt Fargo + 2810
Kevin Rogers + 1504
Scott Rickenbach + 781
Favorite Leaders
Handicapper Money
Matt Fargo + 2398
Kevin Rogers + 1876
Bill Marzano + 1326
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Scott Rickenbach + 853
Doc's Sports + 797
ASA + 688
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, SAVE 10% off a Live Odds Pro subscription, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership