Draft Day

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Carolina Hurricanes

Jack Eichel zooms in on Minnesota goalie Devan Dubnyk on March 5. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Thanks to a scheduling quirk three months ago, the Sabres enjoyed a six-day Christmas break, a rare opportunity to recharge during the rigorous six-month, 82-game season.

At that point, 33 games into his career, Sabres center Jack Eichel had nine goals and 16 points, terrific numbers for a 19-year-old. Still, those statistics ranked nowhere near the NHL’s elite.

Eichel used the time to go home to Boston and relax. Having played only 55 total games over eight months as a …

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Jack Eichel celebrates his first goal Saturday afternoon. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Sabres winger Evander Kane likes to practice the long backhand flips like the one that created rookie Jack Eichel’s slick breakaway winner with one second left in overtime Saturday afternoon.

“They’re helpful when you get caught on a line change,” Kane said following the Sabres’ thrilling 3-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes. “It’s kind of like a punt, four seconds of hang time in the air and you can kind of get off the ice.”

But with eight seconds left …

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Carlo Colaiacovo was scratched for more than two months. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – For 10 weeks, as Carlo Colaiacovo sat game after game – 30 out of 32, including a whopping 15 straight – the Sabres defenseman kept giving coach Dan Bylsma a message.

“Every game he was, ‘I’m ready to go,’” Bylsma said prior to Saturday afternoon’s 3-2 overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes inside the First Niagara Center.

These days, even with Colaiacovo, 33, dressing regularly again – he played his 10th straight game Saturday – the affable veteran keeps chatting …

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Evander Kane said he did nothing wrong. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – A relieved-looking Evander Kane said this morning he’s happy he won’t be charged after a 74-day investigation into a sexual encounter he had Dec. 27 at a downtown hotel.

“I’m definitely happy that the process is behind me,” the Sabres winger said. “I’m very grateful with the support I got from the Buffalo Sabres and my teammates and family members as well. I’m thankful that this is behind me and we can move forward.”

The Erie County District Attorney’s Office …

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Marcus Foligno believes the Sabres play opponents tough. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Right away, five months ago, the Sabres passed the eye test. Following two wretched seasons, the rebuilt club immediately looked like, well, a real team again.

While this campaign has still been rough – they rank seventh in the Atlantic Division and 26th overall – the Sabres believe they’ve started creating a strong identity they can carry into the future.

The new-look team (27-33-9) has morphed back into a competitive outfit in today’s ultra-tight NHL by showcasing the same intense …

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Brian Gionta scored his second goal this season Friday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Shortly before Jack Eichel’s nifty winning goal in the Sabres’ 4-1 win Friday, the rookie took an ill-advised skate from his own blue line back toward the net and into danger.

Eichel, 19, coughed up the puck to the Carolina Hurricanes, leading to Zach Bogosian’s interference penalty.

But the Sabres, who ended their six-game losing streak, can live with the occasional mistake from Eichel because, just 23 games into his career, the center is already a dynamic, game-breaking talent.

Heck, even …

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Carlo Colaiacovo has earned some regular duty recently. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Having endured a string of injuries in his 20s that almost derailed his career, Sabres defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo understands what it’s like to nearly lose something you love so dearly.

That’s one reason why the affable veteran, who’s on his fourth team in four seasons and nearly went to Russia last year before an opportunity materialized in Philadelphia, is cherishing his time with the Sabres.

“To have been in the league for so long and to have been through a …

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Zach Bogosian has played five games this season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian and winger Evander Kane will be game-time decisions tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes inside the First Niagara Center, coach Dan Bylsma said this morning.

Bogosian is only five games into his season after missing two months with a lower-body injury. Kane, meanwhile, was questionable for Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Nashville with a lower-body injury before scoring a goal.

Update: Kane is wearing a walking boot on his left foot.

New update: Bogosian and Kane are skating in …

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Jack Eichel (15) stickhandles Wednesday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – They’re different this year. Unlike the last two seasons, the Sabres rarely get pummeled in their losses. They stay in contests and often outplay their opponents. That’s why the six-game losing streak they carry into tonight’s home tilt against the Carolina Hurricanes feels a bit odd.

Sure, the Sabres have only led for eight minutes, 22 seconds during the skid. That happens when you’ve scored just seven times.

But they’ve been in every game during their 0-4-2 run. They have …

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Mikhail Grigorenko celebrates his first-period goal Monday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Emotionally, the Sabres’ 4-3 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes was a difficult game to play in, coach Ted Nolan said.

The bottom-feeders were skating for pride Monday. They Sabres were trying to stave off clinching 30th place for the second consecutive season.

“When you’re out of the playoffs and you’re trying to lift that emotional level up, it’s quite a challenge,” Nolan said following the Sabres’ third win in the last five outings.

At times, the two lightweights played some ugly, …

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