It’s over

Archive:
Ennis

Ville Leino couldn't score in 58 games this season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

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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Connor Knapp made 22 saves Sunday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – On March 15, more than 4,000 miles from Buffalo, Sabres goalie Connor Knapp stopped 24 shots in the Alaska Aces’ 4-2 win against the Colorado Eagles in Anchorage.

Twenty-nine days later, Knapp, the sixth goalie on the organization’s depth chart, made his first NHL start in the Sabres’ 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Islanders.

Knapp grew up in York, a small town about 30 miles from Rochester.

“It’s crazy,” the 23-year-old told a throng of cameras and reporters after …

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Tim Murray has been talking with NHL officials. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Sabres general manager Tim Murray recently asked coach Ted Nolan to tell him everything that was happening.

Why?

“Because we’re going to complain about it,” Murray told Nolan.

The Sabres are angry the NHL only suspended Flyers agitator Zac Rinaldo four games for elbowing defenseman Chad Ruhwedel in the head late in Sunday’s 5-2 loss in Philadelphia.

Ruhwedel is home recovering from a concussion and out indefinitely. Rinaldo, meanwhile, can play again next week.

Nolan said Murray “has probably made a number of …

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Chris Stewart will play his first home game tonight. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Originally, the right ankle injury Chris Stewart suffered March 6 was supposed to shelve the Sabres winger the rest of the season.

But Stewart said he “really turned the corner” a couple of weeks ago. At that point, the 26-year-old decided he would push to return this season.

Tonight, Stewart, who arrived from St. Louis on Feb. 28, will play his third game with the Sabres.

Why come back with just four games left in a miserable season?

“I think it’s a …

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Ville Leino fires his shootout-clinching goal past New Jersey goalie Cory Schneider on Tuesday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Nine rounds into Tuesday’s shootout, Sabres coach Ted Nolan turned to John Scott on the bench.

“Watch the crowd go crazy on this one,” Nolan told the winger after sending out Ville Leino, the fans’ No. 1 whipping boy, with a chance to win the game.

Sure enough, instead of booing Leino, who has zero goals in 53 games this season, the capacity crowd of 19,070 fans inside the First Niagara Center cheered wildly.

Leino zoomed in and wired a shot …

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Cody Hodgson had played center his entire career. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Ted Nolan doesn’t want to project his lineup too far into the future. But the Sabres coach said he must evaluate his top six forwards these last two weeks so they receive enough ice time next season.

If Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons are his top centers, where does that leave Cody Hodgson?

For the time being, on the left wing, a position Hodgson had played once in his career before Saturday, during a 2008 exhibition game.

“I don’t think I …

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Ted Nolan has help elevate the play of Drew Stafford (left) and Tyler Ennis (right). ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

BUFFALO – Drew Stafford’s first conversation with Sabres coach Ted Nolan lasted no more than two minutes, the winger said. It was a straightforward, “man-to-man” chat.

“Looking-at-me-in-the-eyes kind of conversation,” Stafford said Monday, hours after the Sabres removed Nolan’s interim tag and gave him a three-year contract extension.

Stafford was struggling badly back in mid-November. He had one goal and had just lost his alternate captaincy. Nolan didn’t care. As a veteran, Stafford deserved respect. Nolan immediately upped his ice time.

“Just that …

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Ted Nolan re-joined the Sabres on Nov. 13. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – The Sabres removed the interim tag from Ted Nolan today, signing the coach to a reported three-year contract extension.

While the rebuilding club is 16-30-8 under Nolan, the culture around the Sabres has changed dramatically. Nolan’s straightforward approach has connected with many players, most notably center Tyler Ennis and winger Drew Stafford, who have been thriving in recent months.

“We are very happy to get this deal done and have Ted Nolan as our permanent head coach going forward,” Sabres …

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Cory Conacher was never drafted and played in the ECHL briefly. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – There was no straight path to the NHL for Cory Conacher. About 10 years ago, after the AAA Burlington Cougars cut him, the diminutive Sabres winger figured his hockey career was over.

“You always run into a certain coach that just doesn’t like your physical stature,” Conacher recalled Friday, “and that’s kind of I think what happened.”

But the 5-foot-8 Conacher had a chip on his shoulder that would help buoy him to the NHL.

“I like proving people wrong,” he …

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Drew Stafford (21) and Cory Conacher (88) skate beside Nashville goalie Carter Hutton on Tuesday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – It was just about Ted Nolan’s only option for another goal. So the interim Sabres coach kept utilizing his top line throughout Tuesday’s disappointing 4-1 loss to Nashville.

Scorching winger Drew Stafford, who scored the Sabres’ lone goal on the power play, skated a season-high 23 minutes. Slick center Tyler Ennis played a team-high 24:17. Winger Cory Conacher skated a season-high 19:47.

“There was only one line basically going,” Nolan said following the game inside the First Niagara Center. “You’re …

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