The Eichel Era

Archive:
Crosby

Ryan O'Reilly leads the Sabres in goals and points. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Right away, everything has clicked for center Ryan O’Reilly. In just half a season here, the 24-year-old has quickly become the Sabres’ MVP and perhaps their most popular player.

O’Reilly plays more minutes than any other NHL forward. He leads the Sabres in scoring and has 17 points in the last 17 games. No one in the league has taken more faceoffs. Following losses, he regularly takes responsibility for his performance and passionately says he needs to be better.

Not …

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Jack Eichel will play his first NHL game in Boston tonight. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Sabres rookie Jack Eichel has played big games in his hometown rink, Boston’s TD Garden, before. As a college freshman last season, the center starred as his Boston University Terriers captured The Beanpot, a prestigious tournament between local schools.

Google “Eichel” and “Beanpot” and a slew of pictures of an ecstatic Eichel clutching the Beanpot trophy will pop up.

But tonight’s tilt against the Bruins, Eichel’s first appearance in Boston with the Sabres, will be a much different experience for …

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John Scott played only his seventh game Friday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The sight, of course, would be odd. Just imagine 6-foot-8 former Sabres tough guy John Scott, who has five goals in his eight-year career, competing against superstars like Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos in the new three-on-three NHL All-Star Game format.

If fans keep casting online ballots for Scott, that could happen Jan. 31 in Nashville.

Right now, Scott, a healthy scratch 19 times with the Arizona Coyotes this season, is the leading NHL All-Star vote-getter.

That’s not a misprint. Scott, …

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Brian Gionta has zero goals in nine games this season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Just over six minutes into the third period Sunday, Sabres captain Brian Gionta deftly backhanded the puck along the left boards through the neutral zone into Islanders territory. Center Zemgus Girgensons then barreled in, retrieving the pass in the circle before slickly feeding Matt Moulson for the tying goal.

For Girgensons, the nifty assist in the Sabres’ 2-1 victory against New York was his first this season and just his second point. For Gionta, the point marked the second …

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Connor McDavid was injured Tuesday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Besides being a coach, the Sabres’ Dan Bylsma counts himself as a hockey fan.

So Oilers phenom Connor McDavid’s first meeting with Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby on Friday in Edmonton, one of the most anticipated matchups on the NHL schedule this season, was circled on Bylsma’s calendar.

Now, with McDavid sidelined “months” with a broken clavicle he suffered late Tuesday in the Oilers’ 4-2 win against Philadelphia, Bylsma, like most hockey fans, is wildly disappointed.

“I don’t know if there …

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Pascal Dupuis (9) celebrates Ben Lovejoy's goal againt Sabres goalie Chad Johnson on Thursday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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PITTSBURGH – A year or two ago, as the Buffalo Sabres rebuilt their lineup from the ground up, a game like their exciting 4-3 loss to the Penguins on Thursday would’ve turned into an utter annihilation.

But against a team that usually destroys them, the Sabres roared back from an early 2-0 deficit inside the Consol Energy Center, their personal house of horrors, tying it before the first period ended.

When the Penguins went up two goals again late, the Sabres pumped …

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Mike Weber played his 10th game in Pittsburgh on Thursday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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PITTSBURGH – By now, after years and years of getting scratched, gritty veteran Mike Weber knows sitting out occasionally accompanies his role as the Buffalo Sabres’ sixth or seventh defenseman.

“You never want to come out,” Weber said Thursday, “so I understand it’s kind of unfortunately built into my role for reasons unknown. … I just continue to come to the rink determined to work hard and be a good teammate, and when I get my opportunities, take full advantage of …

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Mike Weber will return tonight. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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PITTSBURGH – Just how lopsided did contests between the Penguins and the Sabres become as Buffalo infamously fielded a less-than-stellar lineup for two seasons?

Well, the Penguins have outscored the Sabres 25-3 in their six straight victories against them!

Last year, they throttled the Sabres 5-0, 6-1 and 2-0. Yes, the Sabres scored once in 180 minutes of hockey.

The Sabres haven’t beaten the Penguins since a 4-2 triumph here April 23, 2013.

These days, the Sabres are fielding a strong lineup filled with …

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Dan Bylsma took over the Sabres on May 28. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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PITTSBURGH – There are no hard feelings, Buffalo Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. For five and a half seasons, he enjoyed a heck of a ride leading the Penguins, winning a Stanley Cup just months after taking over the job in 2009.

That they let him twist in the wind at the end of another disappointing season, refusing to fire him for three weeks after letting general manager Ray Shero go, doesn’t matter.

“I don’t think there needs to be any reconciliation,” …

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Sabres goalie Chad Johnson pokes the puck away from Toronto's Nick Spaling on Oct. 21. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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PITTSBURGH – Buffalo Sabres goalie Chad Johnson embraces a simple philosophy following poor outings: Don’t panic, just stick with it.

“I think when you start sitting down and being like, ‘OK, I got to change this, change that, get out here and do this,’ now you’re overthinking instead of saying it was one of those days,” Johnson said Wednesday inside the Consol Energy Center.

Johnson, 29, experienced one of those days Friday, looking shaky in the Sabres’ ugly 7-2 loss to Montreal. …

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