Stay safe, Buffalo

Nikita Zadorov has cemented a roster spot. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Nine weeks ago, Nikita Zadorov wasn’t even ready to play in a prospects tournament. The 19-year-old Sabres defenseman, one of the few players with NHL experience, got benched.

“That benching was not because I’m a bad player, because I was not ready for that game,” Zadorov said Thursday inside the First Niagara Center. “Coach (Chadd Cassidy) said I didn’t have enough effort. It’s kind of my bad, and it was in my head.

“Maybe I wasn’t ready for that tournament. …

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Patrick Kaleta practiced again Friday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – For days, Sabres winger Patrick Kaleta looked out a window in his Hamburg home and had one thought, “Man, when is this going to end?”

As foot after foot of snow from Winter Storm Knife piled up, Kaleta, like most Southtowns residents, got trapped. He spent three days shoveling and helping people.

“There was nothing I could do,” Kaleta said Friday following practice inside the First Niagara Center. “As my neighbors’ kids would say, I’m pretty grumpy.”

Finally, Kaleta made it …

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Patrick Kaleta was stuck at home for days. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – For days, Sabres winger Patrick Kaleta looked out a window in his Hamburg home and had one thought, “Man, when is this going to end?”

As foot after foot of snow from Winter Storm Knife piled up, Kaleta, like most Southtowns residents, got trapped. He spent three days shoveling and helping people.

Finally, Kaleta made it to practice today. It wasn’t easy, however.

“I had to take the long way, but I was happy to get out there and practice, for …

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Snow has been falling around Buffalo constantly. ©2014, Margaret Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – It was business as usual early Thursday inside the First Niagara Center. Following a day off, the Sabres practiced in anticipation of playing the New York Rangers tonight. Only snowed-in winger Patrick Kaleta, who’s stuck in Hamburg, was missing. Coach Ted Nolan discussed his lineup.

But miles away, Winter Storm Knife was battering Buffalo’s Southtowns again, pouring more snow on an area already devastated by one of the biggest storms in this area’s history.

At about 2:30 p.m., the NHL …

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Nathan Lieuwen has struggled this season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Closures from Winter Storm Knife have been blocking the quickest route from Rochester to Buffalo, the New York State Thruway.

So upon getting summoned to the NHL on Wednesday, Sabres goalie Nathan Lieuwen had to find a different path here.

“I kind of got some advice,” Lieuwen said Thursday inside the First Niagara Center.

Armed with a map, the 23-year-old took Route 104, a roadway close to Lake Ontario.

Lieuwen said his trip took about two hours and 45 minutes.

“Tried to get …

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Snow has been falling around Buffalo for days. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – With Winter Storm Knife still decimating much of the area surrounding Buffalo, the NHL announced this afternoon it has postponed Friday’s Sabres-New York Rangers game at the First Niagara Center.

The NHL used the phrase “continuing weather-related difficulties” in the press release.

A makeup date will be announced later.

After taking Wednesday off, the Sabres practiced again today. They operated like the game would be played as scheduled.

Update: According to Sabres spokesman Mike Gilbert, a decision on the game had to …

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Patrick Kaleta is stuck at home. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – As expected, the Sabres practiced minus one player today, winger Patrick Kaleta, who’s stuck in his Hamburg home with Winter Storm Knife still decimating the area.

Update: Friday’s game against the New York Rangers has been postponed.

“Hockey seems like a very small thing when the city’s going through something that we’re going through right now,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said this afternoon inside the First Niagara Center. “We’re just hoping that not only Kaleta, but everybody gets out of …

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Justin Bailey has 14 goals and 29 points this season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – These days, the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium starts to buzz each time Sabres prospect Justin Bailey touches the puck. The 6,200 fans sense something special is about to happen.

Bailey, a slick 19-year-old winger, might score another scintillating goal.

“He’s an electrifying player,” Kitchener Rangers coach Troy Smith said by phone Wednesday. “Whenever he’s out there, our fans, you can kind of hear the buzz in the building just because of his speed and his ability. He has the ability at …

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Nathan Lieuwen played seven NHL games last season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – With goalie Michal Neuvirth sidelined by a lower-body injury, the Sabres recalled Nathan Lieuwen from Rochester this afternoon.

Lieuwen has struggled badly with the AHL Americans this season, going 3-4 with a 3.53 goals against average and .876 save percentage.

The 23-year-old has performed terribly – 0-3, 4.91 and .838 – in his last six games. He has been yanked from three of his last five starts.

Lieuwen developed into a strong NHL prospect last season – 17-11-2, 2.34 and .922 …

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Brian Gionta had three points Tuesday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Outside the First Niagara Center, temperatures dipped into the low 20s and winds gusted up to 30 mph Tuesday. It was bone-chilling cold.

But there was very little snow on the ground downtown. The area immediately around the arena remained navigable all day. So did Buffalo’s Northtowns.

Just miles away, however, an early-season storm was annihilating the Southtowns.

Five feet fell in some areas. There was chaos everywhere. No one could budge.

Still, the Sabres played on, beating the San Jose Sharks …

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