Evan Kane (9) has mostly played with Jack Eichel (15). ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres coach Dan Bylsma constantly tinkering with lines

BUFFALO – After some fourth-line duty in the season opener, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma rewarded Jamie McGinn with a plum assignment as the right winger beside rookie center Jack Eichel and Evander Kane early Saturday afternoon.

McGinn, however, didn’t last long on the second line.

Bylsma moved Marcus Foligno up beside Eichel early. Zemgus Girgensons, who practiced with Eichel on Friday, also received some time. So did Tyler Ennis and Sam Reinhart. Then McGinn went ... Read the full article

Chad Johnson has never played more than 27 NHL games. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres confident in goalie Chad Johnson

BUFFALO – Considering Chad Johnson is the only healthy goalie on the roster, it can be assumed the backup will start this afternoon against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said.

“Let’s go with that,” Bylsma said sarcastically Friday.

Goaltending was arguably the Sabres’ biggest question mark before new starter Robin Lehner suffered a lower-body injury about halfway through the season opener Thursday.

Now, the Sabres might be forced to lean heavily on ... Read the full article

Jack Eichel celebrates his first NHL goal. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Jack Eichel scores in NHL debut

BUFFALO – For the first two periods of his NHL debut, Jack Eichel blended in among the other 10 skaters on the ice. The slick Sabres center looked like, well, a rookie playing against superior competition.

Then suddenly, like he somehow matured over a brief intermission, Eichel, 18, morphed into the best player on the ice late in the Sabres’ 3-1 opening-night loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

“You didn’t see him skate in ... Read the full article

Jack Eichel prefers to talk about the team instead of himself. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Jack Eichel just one big piece for Sabres

BUFFALO – Rookie Jack Eichel felt the anticipation building for his NHL debut long before the Sabres drafted him second overall 104 days ago. The center knows the excited Buffalo fans see him as the future of the franchise.

But to Eichel, 18, the new chapter the revamped Sabres will begin tonight against the Ottawa Senators, the so-called “Eichel Era,” is about much more than one player.

“We have a pretty young team,” Eichel said ... Read the full article

Jack Eichel has officially made the Sabres. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Jack Eichel ready to switch to No. 15

BUFFALO – When Sabres coach Dan Bylsma spoke to center Jack Eichel this morning, the two chatted about the phenom’s first NHL training camp and where his game was at a day before his debut.

Bylsma then informed Eichel, 18, he had made the Sabres, something the rookie had been waiting to hear.

“Then I asked him if he wanted to switch from 41 to 15,” Bylsma said inside the First Niagara Center. “Obviously, the ... Read the full article

Brian Gionta finished last season on a tear. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres captain Brian Gionta still going strong at 36

BUFFALO – The Cup. The Sabres always mention it. Brian Gionta won the Stanley Cup. Their captain knows how to win hockey’s biggest prize.

“The most important part,” Sabres winger Tyler Ennis said Tuesday inside the First Niagara Center.

Naturally, the ring Gionta, 36, won 12 years ago with the New Jersey Devils gives him instant credibility in a dressing room filled with youngsters. But the Greece native has earned his teammates’ respect and trust ... Read the full article

Evander Kane (9) tries to move around Columbus' Kevin Connauton on Friday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres close preseason with ugly loss

BUFFALO – For almost 40 minutes Friday, much of the optimism the Sabres created early in the preseason vanished as the Columbus Blue Jackets’ junior varsity squad throttled a lineup filled with stars and regular talent.

The Blue Jackets scored on two of their first three shots and led 3-0 after the first period. When they went up 5-0 8:15 into the second period, the Sabres had five shots.

“It wasn’t at all how ... Read the full article

Josh Gorges was hurt in his preseason debut. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Josh Gorges OK after minor surgery

BUFFALO – Josh Gorges almost revealed what had sidelined him for a week of training camp.

Almost.

“Just a quick cleanup in my,” the Sabres defenseman said this morning before pausing briefly, “lower body.”

Yes, Gorges, who underwent microfracture surgery in February, has already undergone a minor procedure this season. He said he was injured nine days ago going into the corner against the Ottawa Senators.

While Gorges skated this morning and feels good, he ... Read the full article

Brendan Guhle will play his fourth preseason game tonight. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres prospect Brendan Guhle could crack lineup

BUFFALO – Brendan Guhle is no longer the impressive rookie getting a long look before going back to junior. Suddenly, the Sabres defense prospect, the 51st overall pick in June, has a real chance to be on the opening-night roster in nine days.

“Definitely there’s an opportunity,” said Guhle, who will play his fourth preseason game tonight. “There’s some injuries now, whatnot. I’m not looking too far ahead of myself.”

Four notable defensemen – ... Read the full article

Robin Lehner stops a shot from Max McCormick on Wednesday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Evander Kane scores twice in Sabres’ preseason loss to Senators

BUFFALO – A week ago, Sabres newcomer Evander Kane, a winger who has hit the 30-goal mark once in his six-year career, boldly said he wants score 40 or 50 times this season.

Was it brash? You bet. But Kane backed up his words Wednesday, starting his Sabres career splendidly by scoring twice in their 5-2 exhibition loss to the Ottawa Senators before an announced crowd of 17,298 fans inside the First Niagara Center.

“It ... Read the full article