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Minnesota Wild

Jack Eichel (15) fends off Minnesota's Marco Scandella on Saturday afternoon. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Finally, thanks to rookie Jack Eichel’s score, it appeared the Sabres’ first shootout goal in months would help them eke out a win after blowing a late lead against the Minnesota Wild.

Eichel, just 66 games into his career, already has a commanding on-ice presence. His exploits create excitement and momentum, and his first NHL shootout goal in four tries had the capacity crowd of 19,070 fans inside the First Niagara Center buzzing Saturday afternoon.

Still, it wasn’t enough to …

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Thomas Vanek has 18 goals this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – The upcoming World Cup of Hockey will be a much different international experience for veteran Thomas Vanek, a two-time 40-goal scorer with the Sabres.

Instead of hoping Austria can simply win a game to stay in the ‘A’ pool, the Minnesota Wild winger has a roster spot on Team Europe, a collection of top talent from seven countries.

“For me, it’s cool because actually I can go into one of those tournaments and compete at the (highest) level,” Vanek said …

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Nick Deslauriers loves to make teammates laugh. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – It’s only playful fighting, of course. Sometimes Nick Deslauriers and Marcus Foligno scrap on the ice after practice. Other times the Sabres wingers tussle for positioning on the bus.

“That’s normal,” a smiling Foligno said Friday. “We do that quite a bit. He annoys me quite a bit. I annoy him quite a bit. We go hand-in-hand.”

Their constant jousting earned them the nickname “Bash Brothers” from their teammates, Foligno said.

“We’re always just hitting each other,” he said after the …

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Phil Varone has been a healthy scratch this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

ROCHESTER – One of the oddest situations in the minors is unfolding with the AHL Americans, the Buffalo Sabres’ high-priced affiliate. The club has too many veterans, meaning some notable talent earning six figures has been forced to sit out to comply with league development rules.

The Amerks scratched Jerry D’Amigo and Patrick Kaleta, two forwards with 379 games of NHL experience, Friday. Forward Matt Ellis, an alternate captain less than a year removed from regular NHL duty, sat out for …

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Chad Johnson still hasn't played a regular-season game for the Sabres. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – A season in which he morphed from arguably the NHL’s best backup goalie into one of its least reliable hasn’t shaken Sabres newcomer Chad Johnson’s confidence.

After all, Johnson, 29, landed another good gig prior to the March 2 trade deadline, getting dealt from the upstart New York Islanders to the rebuilding Sabres, who planned to play him regularly.

That was, of course, before Johnson suffered a season-ending ankle injury the morning of his first scheduled start March 6 in …

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Chris Stewart joined Minnesota on Monday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

BUFFALO – The Sabres’ deals before Monday’s trade deadline stripped the NHL’s worst team of four assets. Gone are starting goalie Michal Neuvirth, first-line winger Chris Stewart and centers Brian Flynn and Torrey Mitchell, two checkers thrust into bigger roles thanks to the rebuilding team’s shortage of talent.

In return, the Sabres received, well, nothing very notable or of immediate help. Only one NHL player, backup goalie Chad Johnson, came back. They also added four draft picks – a second, third, …

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Brian Flynn (65) battles for the puck witn Philadelphia's Ryan White earlier this season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Less than three years ago, Brian Flynn was an undrafted and mostly unknown youngster at the University of Maine. The versatile forward’s signing with the Sabres barely registered with the fan base.

But Flynn quickly and quietly worked himself into a strong NHL prospect.

After less than a season in Rochester, Flynn debuted with the Sabres in 2012-13. The 26-year-old played regularly until they dealt him to the Montreal Canadiens on Monday for a fifth-round pick in 2016 hours before …

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Chris Stewart has 11 goals this season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – The Sabres have traded winger Chris Stewart to the Minnesota Wild for a 2017 second-round pick.

The 27-year-old, a free agent following the season, has 11 goals and 25 points in 61 games this season.

According to Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Mike Russo, the Sabres are picking up half of Stewart’s salary.

The trade deadline has passed. Stay tuned for more details.

The Sabres have become regular deadline partners with Minnesota, sending the Wild Jason Pominville in 2013 and Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick …

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Josh Gorges looks dejected as Minnesota celebrates another goal Thursday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – At this point, with the Sabres’ franchise-long losing streak at nine games and counting, it’s fair to wonder if the hapless team will win another game this season.

Seriously.

The Sabres are awful, a disaster by any standard.

In a season full of ugly, ugly defeats, the Sabres hit rock bottom in Thursday’s disastrous 7-0 loss to the reeling Minnesota Wild before 18,963 fans inside the First Niagara Center.

“I’m speechless,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said following the worst defeat in the …

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Thomas Vanek scored his eighth goal Thursday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Call it hockey’s worst-kept secret.

Of course, Thomas Vanek couldn’t say anything as he bounced from team to team last season. But the former Sabres star confirmed the suspicions when free agency opened July 1, signing a three-year, $19.5 million contract with the Minnesota Wild.

Vanek, a Minnesota resident and Golden Gophers college hero, wanted to return home.

“Honestly, every time I went out somewhere and got recognized, that was one of the first things that people would ask me, ‘When …

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