Zach Werenski already has 43 points. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Blue Jackets rookie Zach Werenski fond of time beside Youngstown’s Joe Cecconi

BUFFALO – Before Zach Werenski joined the upstart Columbus Blue Jackets, before the slick teenager began one of the greatest campaigns by a rookie defenseman in NHL history, he spent the second half of his last season at the University of Michigan playing beside Youngstown’s Joe Cecconi.

“I loved it,” Werenski said Saturday prior to the Blue Jackets’ 5-3 loss to the Sabres inside KeyBank Center.

Werenski, 19, has quickly morphed into a star, ... Read the full article

Justin Bailey has played 19 straight games. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Justin Bailey has opportunity to stay

BUFFALO – Right now, thanks to his torrid goal-scoring run in the AHL and some injuries with the big club, Sabres winger Justin Bailey has the best opportunity of his young career to stick in the NHL for good.

For the last five weeks, the speedy Bailey, 21, has enjoyed regular duty, playing 19 straight games. Some contests the Williamsville native has skated on a top line.

“It’s a really big one,” Sabres coach Dan ... Read the full article

Anders Nilsson has played 22 games this season. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres goalie Anders Nilsson to start

BUFFALO – Some quick updates from KeyBank Center, where the Sabres close a back-to-back set tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets:

Sabres goalie Anders Nilsson will start, just his third nod in the last 16 games. The Swede is 9-9-4 with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage in 22 games this season.

Starting goalie Robin Lehner, who made 35 saves in Friday’s 4-3 loss in Columbus, has been slumping. Since ... Read the full article

Marcus Foligno (82) contends for the puck with Tampa Bay's Vladislav Namestnikov on Saturday. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres want to establish identity in final 15 games

BUFFALO – Technically, the Sabres are still alive in the playoff chase. Thanks to seven losses in eight games, it only seems like they’ve been eliminated.

But realistically, the seventh-place Sabres are finished. They must climb four teams and make up at least seven points to reach the final wild card spot.

The odds of that happening? Try 0.2 percent, according to sportclubstats.com.

Fifteen games are left, starting with tonight’s road tilt against the ... Read the full article

Sabres goalie Jason Kasdorf makes a first-period save in his NHL debut Friday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres fall in home finale to Blue Jackets, won’t hit .500

BUFFALO – In the big picture, failing to hit a .500 points percentage, a notable mark the Sabres sorely wanted, shouldn’t matter much.

The Sabres’ 4-1 loss in Friday’s home finale to the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets secured their third straight losing season (34-36-11), and like so many other home games recently, they let a weak opponent exploit them.

Still, the Sabres’ recent 7-2-2 run thrust them up the standings, giving them a real goal ... Read the full article

Ryan O'Reilly was named team MVP Friday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres coach Dan Bylsma feels fans’ passion everywhere

BUFFALO – In his first season as coach, Dan Bylsma has experienced so much excitement surrounding the Sabres he wonders how crazy it would feel if his team becomes a contender again.

The Sabres, of course, will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season. Still, to a rabid fan base yearning for postseason hockey, the progress the Sabres have made this season – they’ve improved 25 points with newcomers Jack Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly and ... Read the full article

Tyler Ennis is felt good on the ice Thursday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Long recovery from concussion worried Sabres’ Tyler Ennis

BUFFALO – After experiencing a “strange few months” recovering from a scary concussion, Tyler Ennis can smile now. But at times throughout the past 13 weeks, as his health constantly changed and the emotional toll wore on him, the speedy Sabres winger feared for his future.

“There’s days where you feel great and days where it’s tough,” Ennis said Thursday following his first practice since he was injured Dec. 30. “To say I wasn’t scared ... Read the full article

Cole Schneider has strong AHL numbers. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Williamsville’s Cole Schneider paid dues to reach Sabres

BUFFALO – When Williamsville native Cole Schneider walked into the First Niagara Center on Thursday morning, it marked the first time the new Sabres winger had been in the building since he competed in a showcase of local high school players in 2008.

A lot happened to Schneider, 25, in between his trips to rink.

Schneider, who grew up cheering for the Sabres, will make his NHL debut in tonight’s home finale against the Columbus ... Read the full article

Sabres goalie Chad Johnson tries to stop Detroit's Darren Helm on Jan. 2. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres goalie Chad Johnson knows his time in Buffalo could be ending

BUFFALO – Sabres goalie Chad Johnson learned years ago he needed to embrace the nomadic lifestyle that often accompanies a career as a backup.

So at each of his five NHL stops, Johnson, 29, has tried to make the best of what can be a difficult situation by exploring his new city, meeting its people and finding the best local eateries.

“That’s the only way you can really deal with getting traded all the time, ... Read the full article

Jack Eichel (15) is greeted by teammates after scoring Monday afternoon. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Jack Eichel’s nifty goal helps Sabres beat Blue Jackets

BUFFALO – Sabres coach Dan Bylsma knows Jack Eichel’s second NHL goal, a scintillating wrist shot from the left circle the rookie center created with some dogged determination and slick moves, will be replayed over and over again.

Three games into his career, Eichel, 18, has already scored a phenomenal goal.

Get used to seeing every last part of it.

“You will see that goal again,” Bylsma said Monday following the Sabres’ 4-2 win against ... Read the full article