Kyle Okposo has scored seven goals this season. ©2019, Janet Schultz

Sabres notes: Kyle Okposo showcasing more physicality

BUFFALO – Over the last week or two, Sabres winger Kyle Okposo has finally started showcasing signs of his old self, playing a heavier, straight-line game.

“He’s going to the net a lot better,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said prior to Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning inside KeyBank Center. “I think he’s attacking off the wing and he’s shooting a lot more.”

Not surprisingly, Okposo has started scoring a bit. After enduring ... Read the full article

Drew Stafford often skates on the fourth line. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres notes: Drew Stafford reunited with Mike Grier; Scott Wilson waived

BUFFALO – Former Sabres winger Drew Stafford still remembers the first time he saw Mike Grier.

It was the mid-1990s, more than a decade before they became teammates with the Sabres for two seasons. Stafford would sometimes help his uncle, Barry, the Edmonton Oilers’ equipment manager, as a stick boy. Grier, meanwhile, was just beginning his 14-year NHL career as a winger.

“I was like, ‘This is the largest human being I’ve even seen ... Read the full article

Sam Reinhart skated this morning. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres’ Sam Reinhart game-time decision; Scott Wilson on waivers

BUFFALO – Tonight’s tilt will be lacking some star power and its two main attractions.

An upper-body injury will sideline Sabres captain Jack Eichel, who skated with his teammates again this morning, a third straight game.

“We’re just being cautious with that,” coach Phil Housley said after the Sabres prepared for the New Jersey Devils inside KeyBank Center.

Meanwhile, a lower-body ailment will shelve New Jersey winger Taylor Hall, the reigning Hart Trophy winner, ... Read the full article

Evan Rodrigues has 11 points this season. ©2019, Hickling Images

Jack Eichel’s injury gives Evan Rodrigues chance on Sabres’ top line

BUFFALO – Thanks to center Jack Eichel’s upper-body injury, Sabres coach Phil Housley leaned on Evan Rodrigues heavily throughout Monday’s 3-1 loss, skating him a career-high 22 minutes, seven seconds.

Rodrigues, 25, had never even cracked the 20-minute mark in his previous 113 NHL outings.

Expect Rodrigues to see plenty of action again Thursday against the Florida Panthers.

Eichel, who skated only four shifts before leaving Monday’s tilt against the New York Islanders, did ... Read the full article

C.J. Smith was piling up points in Rochester. ©2018, Hickling Images

Sabres look to C.J. Smith for spark

BUFFALO – Late in the 2016-17 season, the Sabres rewarded C.J. Smith with two NHL games after the forward left UMass Lowell following his junior year to sign an entry-level contract.

And then, Smith, 24, quietly went to the Rochester Americans, where he morphed into a top scorer and an intriguing prospect.

Still, the Sabres kept Smith in the AHL nearly a season and a half before finally summoning him this morning.... Read the full article

Evan Rodrigues (71) skates between Anaheim's Kiefer Sherwood (left) and Ryan Kelser (right) on Saturday. ©2018, Hickling Images

Sabres notes: Randy Carlyle remembers Phil Housley’s talents

BUFFALO – Anaheim Ducks coach Randy Carlyle still remembers a skinny rookie named Phil Housley entering the NHL fresh out of high school in 1982.

“I can remember Phil coming here as an 18-year-old defenseman and looking and saying, ‘Holy crow, how’s this kid going to last?’”

Well, Housley lasted a long time, playing 21 seasons, including eight with the Sabres, in what would be a Hall of Fame career.

But 36 years ago, ... Read the full article

Brendan Guhle made his NHL season debut Sunday afternoon. ©2018, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres notes: Brendan Guhle returns to NHL confident

BUFFALO – During the second intermission Saturday in Cleveland, defenseman Brendan Guhle was informed the Sabres needed his services the next day more than 600 miles away in Boston.

So instead of finishing the Rochester Americans’ 2-1 victory against the Monsters, Guhle, who scored earlier in the game, spent all of the third period and overtime watching from the bench.

“It was pretty weird,” Guhle said prior to Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers ... Read the full article

Matt Hunwick has missed 31 games this season. ©2018, Hickling Images

Sabres notes: Matt Hunwick to begin injury rehab assignment with Amerks

BUFFALO – On April 1, defenseman Matt Hunwick made his 521st NHL appearance, skating just over 12 minutes in Pittsburgh’s 3-1 loss in Washington.

More than eight months later, Hunwick, 33, hasn’t played another game. That should, however, change tonight for the Sabres newcomer, who has missed the first 31 contests this season recovering from a neck injury.

The Sabres plan to have Hunwick start an AHL rehab assignment with the Rochester Americans, Sabres coach ... Read the full article

Lawrence Pilut (24) and Jeff Skinner look on Saturday afternoon. ©2018, Hickling Images

Sabres notes: Lawrence Pilut making case to stick in NHL

BUFFALO – Every once in a while a prospect like Sabres defenseman Lawrence Pilut comes along. After a short apprenticeship in the AHL – maybe just a few months or less – he arrives in the NHL and stays for good.

For as much as the Sabres and other teams stress development and paying dues, some guys are just ready for the big leagues right away.

Pilut, 22, is just four games into his career. ... Read the full article

Tyler Ennis is in his first season in Toronto. ©2018, Hickling Images

Sabres notes: Tyler Ennis happy in fourth-line role with Maple Leafs

BUFFALO – Instead of being relied upon to produce offense, ex-Sabres winger Tyler Ennis is now a fourth-liner.

Sure, Ennis, 29, skates on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ second power-play unit. The former first-round pick even started the season on the No. 1 line beside center Auston Matthews and Patrick Marleau.

But Ennis is no longer the ultra-slick presence from his early days. The concussions he suffered in his final seasons with the Sabres helped stymie ... Read the full article