The post-Pominville era begins Friday.

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Hecht
Ryan Miller slides across his crease to stop a shot by New Jersey’s Steve Sullivan on Sunday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Not long ago, the Sabres might’ve wilted under the intense pressure, lost a game like Sunday’s 3-2 shootout win over the freefalling New Jersey Devils.

For at least 15 minutes – from late in the first period until midway through the game – the Devils hemmed the Sabres in their own zone, pumping chance after chance on goalie Ryan Miller as they sustained almost constant pressure.

It looked like the reeling Devils enjoyed a marathon power play.

The 18,703 fans inside …

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Jochen Hecht has played 10 seasons with the Sabres. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Thirty-one days ago, it appeared Jochen Hecht’s long career here could be ending. In his fifth game as interim coach, Ron Rolston scratched the versatile forward, the first benching of his 10-season Sabres career. Rolston had already slashed the German’s minutes dramatically.

Hecht, a favorite of former coach Lindy Ruff, was seething.

But Rolston complimented Hecht’s play following the scratch, saying the German was only benched so the Sabres could add some toughness.

Hecht has played all 14 games since then. …

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Jochen Hecht often shoots the puck from almost anywhere. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – No angle is too awkward for Sabres forward Jochen Hecht. The veteran’s penchant for shooting the puck – or, perhaps more appropriately, sweeping it – from any spot deep in the offensive zone is legendary.

The 35-year-old scored a nifty goal in Friday’s 4-2 win over Ottawa, backhanding the puck quickly in the left circle with a defender draped on him. Other players surely would’ve passed that shot up.

Still, that wasn’t a true Jochen shot. Those take place behind …

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Luke Adam (right) celebrates his first-period goal Friday as Brian Flynn congratulates him. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – On Friday morning, hours before their 4-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators, new assistant captain Steve Ott promised the Sabres would keep fighting for that unlikely playoff berth until the bitter end.

Two days after management jettisoned captain Jason Pominville at the trade deadline with the message the Sabres’ plans have shifted to the future, players emphatically say they’re still focused on the present.

They want to win now.

Ten games remain for the 12th-place Sabres, who trail the eighth-place New …

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Boston goalie Anton Khudobin makes a point-blank stop on Kevin Porter on Sunday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – In coach Ron Rolston’s mind, the Sabres’ 2-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on Sunday “was probably one of our best games” since he took over the struggling club on an interim basis 40 days ago.

Never mind the Sabres’ fourth straight loss (0-2-2) dropped them to 13th place in the Eastern Conference, three points behind the eighth-place New York Rangers. Forget that Anton Khudobin, a relatively unknown backup goalie, only made a few notable saves among his 26 …

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Robyn Regehr acknowledged he has thought about his future with the trade deadline looming. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – A stone-faced Ryan Miller was in no mood to dissect his team’s season-long struggles. The 13th-place Sabres still have 14 games left in what has again become a forgettable year. Technically, they’re not finished yet. When and if the time comes, the goalie will breakdown what went wrong.

“We’re trying to figure it out and battle,” Miller said Friday after the Sabres prepared for the Washington Capitals inside the Northtown Center in Amherst. “It’s not post-mortem.”

They’re getting awfully close …

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Drew Stafford battled Clarke MacArthur (16) in his last appearance Thursday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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MONTREAL – In just 32 days on the job, interim coach Ron Rolston has quickly put his mark on the Buffalo Sabres, scratching five regular forwards.

Prior to Saturday, struggling winger Drew Stafford had escaped a benching, only receiving some fourth-line duty for his poor play. With a two-goal effort last Saturday and the shootout-tying score Thursday, it appeared the assistant captain would keep dressing.

But Stafford, who has only four goals and a team-worst minus-12 rating in 31 games, was a …

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Drew Stafford has struggled all season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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MONTREAL – Naturally, getting benched for tonight’s game against the Canadiens is disappointing, Drew Stafford said. The struggling Buffalo Sabres winger, who has only four goals in 31 games this season, hasn’t been a healthy scratch in years.

But the 27-year-old veteran, an assistant captain, understands why interim coach Ron Rolston will sit him.

“I mean, it’s no secret I haven’t been getting on the score sheet,” Stafford said this afternoon following Buffalo’s skate inside the Bell Centre. “But other than that, …

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Jochen Hecht was recently scratched. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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Considering the Buffalo Sabres have lost two straight, six of seven (1-3-3) and rank 14th in the Eastern Conference with only 10 wins and 24 points, this shouldn’t be hard, right?

So, assuming the Sabres put agitator Patrick Kaleta back in the lineup Tuesday in Montreal, which forward should Ron Rolston scratch?

The Sabres’ interim coach didn’t want to bench anyone Sunday in Washington when Kaleta was eligible to play following a five-game boarding suspension. Of course, sitting a sixth game irked …

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Ville Leino struggled last season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Last season, in the first year of a six-year, $27 million contract, Ville Leino bombed. For a cool $6 million, the Sabres received eight goals and 25 points in 71 games, paying out $240,000 a point.

The Sabres initially tried converting Leino into a center again, an experiment that failed miserably. Leino was back on the wing after just a few weeks, generating little as a third- or fourth-liner.

Before the season ended, some observers had already started calling Leino …

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