Zemgus Girgensons, NHL All-Star

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Girgensons

Zemgus Girgensons left Latvia in 2009 to play junior hockey in Vermont. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Five years later, the Christmas cards Jim Hall sends out each year feature photos of his three children and someone so close he calls him another family member, Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons.

“Z’s been on our Christmas card we send out ever since he’s lived with us,” said Hall, Girgensons’ billet during the 2009-10 season.

Before he became an NHL All-Star and a household name in Buffalo, Girgensons spent his first year in North America playing junior hockey in Vermont …

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Philadelphia's R.J. Umberger deflects the puck past Sabres goalie Michal Neuvirth on Saturday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – If you’re a glass-is-half-full type, the Sabres did some good things in Saturday’s 4-3 defeat to a weak Philadelphia Flyers team, their 10th consecutive regulation loss.

For the first time in weeks, the Sabres started strongly and showcased a better effort early, taking the lead and dictating much of the play. When the Flyers went up 2-1, they tied it late in the second period. They even scored three goals for the first time in 10 games.

If you’re a …

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Ted Nolan's Sabres have lost nine straight games. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Sabres have lost a franchise-record nine consecutive games and 31 of 45 overall this trying season. They rank 29th in a 30-team league and dead last or close to the bottom in every major statistical category. They just lost 7-0 to a reeling Minnesota Wild team, their worst home defeat since 1977.

Of course, the Sabres, who host the Philadelphia Flyers tonight, were supposed to lose this season. But was the rebuilding club supposed to lose so badly …

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Ted Nolan knows the Sabres are too soft. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Sabres have lost a franchise-record nine consecutive games and 31 of 45 this season. They rank 29th overall and dead last or close to the bottom in every major statistical category. They just lost 7-0 to a reeling Minnesota Wild team, their worst home defeat since 1977.

Of course, the Sabres were supposed to lose this season. But was the rebuilding club supposed to lose so badly this often? Opponents have outscored them 39-9 during their skid.

Very few …

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Matt Moulson (26) couldn't score on his breakaway Tuesday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The joke all season has been the Sabres have one first line and three fourth lines. Right now, even that’s a stretch. No one can score.

The Sabres have only scored nine goals during their eight-game losing streak. They have 76 goals all season entering tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild, a stunning 1.7 a game.

At that anemic pace, the Sabres would score 141 goals in 82 games, nine fewer than they had last season, when they set the …

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Cody McCormick had a blood clot. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Sabres forward Cody McCormick was released from the hospital Monday after being treated for a blood clot in his calf muscle, coach Ted Nolan said.

“Cross our fingers everything continues to go well,” Nolan said following an 80-minute practice inside the First Niagara Center. “No timeframe on his return whatsoever. Our No. 1 concern is making sure he’s OK.”

With McCormick sidelined, the Sabres recalled centers Zac Dalpe and Phil Varone from Rochester early Monday.

Nolan said since winger Chris Stewart …

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Zemgus Girgensons has played only 109 NHL games. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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With lots of help from the rabid fans in his native Latvia and Buffalo, 20-year-old Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons earned an NHL-high 1,574,896 votes and has been elected to the All-Star Game Jan. 25 in Columbus, the league announced tonight.

Girgensons is just 109 games into his career.

The other five players voted in are all Chicago Blackhawks stars: forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook and goalie Corey Crawford.

Kane finished second in balloting with 1,232,201 votes.

It …

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Nick Deslauriers started Saturday's rally. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Give ‘em a nickname. The “Cardiac Sabres” sounds appropriate. Or perhaps the “Comeback Kids” is a little better? These days, no lead is safe inside the First Niagara Center, the site of a several stirring, late-game comebacks by the Sabres in recent weeks.

The Sabres roared back again Saturday, scoring three goals on four shots during a wild five minutes to erase a 3-0 deficit against the upstart New York Islanders.

“It just goes to show you the type of …

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Joel Armia will likely make his NHL debut tonight. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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With injuries ravaging the Buffalo Sabres, the team recalled slick winger Joel Armia from the Rochester Americans today. The 21-year-old prospect will likely make his NHL debut tonight against the Detroit Red Wings.

The Finn, the 16th pick in 2011, has seven goals and 16 points in 21 AHL games this season. The Sabres wanted to recall Armia over the weekend but he had just returned from an upper-body injury. They didn’t want him to play three games in three nights.

The …

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Mikhail Grigorenko played his second NHL game this season Saturday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Mikhail Grigorenko knew the Sabres were short one forward and had the Colorado Avalanche, a team led by Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy, his former junior coach, coming up on the schedule.

Grigorenko, who played in Tuesday’s 5-1 loss in Winnipeg before going back to Rochester, wanted to get recalled again badly. To his relief, the Sabres summoned the Russian again Saturday morning.

“I was hoping I would get called up, especially that game against Colorado against Patrick,” Grigorenko …

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