Best wishes to RJ

Archive:
Ellis

Phil Varone played nine NHL games last season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Phil Varone’s nine-game run last season grabbed coach Ted Nolan’s attention. The 5-foot-10 forward played well during his first NHL recall, compiling one goal and two points while taking a regular shift.

But Varone, who will play in today’s preseason opener in Washington, couldn’t convert a slew of scoring opportunities he generated.

“The difference between him and (Martin) St. Louis and players of that caliber who’s a smaller structure, when they have an opportunity to put it, they put it …

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Ville Leino couldn't score in 58 games this season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – It happened every time Ville Leino touched the puck, whether the Sabres center was 10 feet from the net or in another zone.

The 18,804 fans inside the First Niagara Center cheered the Finn wildly throughout Sunday’s season finale, hoping he would score his first goal in his 58th appearance. Some implored him to shoot.

Alas, Leino couldn’t score, completing what was arguably the worst season ever for a Sabres forward.

“I haven’t thought about it much here,” Leino said about …

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Matt Hackett made 29 saves Saturday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – Nothing has changed, Matt Hackett said. Forget that he was enduring a terrible season in Rochester before injuries forced his recall. Forget that general manager Tim Murray recently said the Sabres’ goalie of the future likely wasn’t in the organization.

Hackett, a key piece of April’s Jason Pominville trade with the Wild, hasn’t lost much confidence. The 24-year-old still believes he can become the team’s No. 1 netminder, a coveted spot that’s up for grabs following Ryan Miller’s recent …

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Dominik Hasek received a special saber for being inducted into the Hall of Fame. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – One current Sabre, forward Matt Ellis, played with legendary goalie Dominik Hasek, who was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame prior to Saturday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning inside the First Niagara Center.

Ellis played 16 games as a rookie with Detroit in 2006-07, Hasek’s 15th NHL season. Incredibly, Hasek posted a 2.05 goals-against average and .913 save percentage as 42-year-old that year.

“He was a great teammate, someone as a young player coming in watching …

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Pete Weber before Tuesday's game. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Just 33 days after suffering a heart attack, veteran play-by-play man Pete Weber is calling games again. Incredibly, the Nashville Predators’ 4-1 win Tuesday inside the First Niagara Center was the former Sabres broadcaster’s seventh contest back.

Sitting in his booth about two hours before faceoff, the affable Weber, a popular Buffalo sports voice in the 1980s and 1990s, recalled the scary day.

“Right people, right time and right location,” said Weber, whose heart muscle wasn’t damaged.

Weber woke up in …

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Matt Moulson knows he could be traded. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Trade rumors have dogged Matt Moulson since the Sabres acquired the winger almost four months ago. But with rosters frozen for 16 days during the NHL’s Olympic break, Moulson briefly got away from the noise, rehabbed his rib injury and relaxed a bit.

“It was good to just go home and train and get healthy again and spend some family time,” Moulson said Monday inside the First Niagara Center.

Moulson and the Sabres better be recharged. They’re diving headfirst back …

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Steve Ott takes a shot in front of Edmonton's Jeff Petry on Monday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Fittingly, a tilt between the NHL’s two worst teams started ominously for the bottom-feeding Sabres. Just 32 seconds in, Jeff Petry zoomed past Jamie McBain and beat goalie Jhonas Enroth easily on the Edmonton Oilers’ first shot.

But the Sabres settled down against the hapless Oilers and their porous defense, taking a 2-1 lead before the first period ended.

At times, the “Battle for the Basement” or the “Game of the Weak” – nicknames media members gave Monday’s game inside …

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Brooks Orpik (44) will represent Team USA at the upcoming Sochi Games. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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PITTSBURGH – Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, a member of Team USA’s Olympic squad, said athletes aren’t that concerned about their own safety for the upcoming Sochi Games.

“It’s more they’re concerned over their family members going because they’re not in the village,” Orpik said Monday prior to the Penguins’ 3-0 win against the Buffalo Sabres inside the Consol Energy Center. “We’ve been pretty assured they’re going to be safe where they are. It’s one of those unfortunate things. That’s just the …

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Matt Ellis (37) battles Florida's Dmitry Kulikov (7) and Marcel Goc (57) recently. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

PITTSBURGH – Matt Ellis had two Buffalo Sabres skating to the crease, so even a few steps inside the blue line, the winger figured lofting a backhander toward Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was a smart move.

To Ellis, getting the puck on net – even the seemingly harmless shots – is one of the simplest ways to increase scoring.

“Coaches tell you from Day One when you pick up a hockey stick that things happen when you put the puck to the …

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Phil Varone (84) spent some of his NHL debut beside Carolina goalie Anton Khudobin. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – The voice on the other end of the phone was excited. For a moment, Tony Varone thought his son, Sabres center Phil Varone, had been in a car accident.

“I said, ‘Is everything OK?’” the elder Varone recalled a day later inside the First Niagara Center.

Phil Varone, who nearly shunned the Sabres to play hockey for the University of New Brunswick in 2011, was calling with good news, though.

“He said, ‘Yes, yes, I just got called up!’” Tony Varone …

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