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Minnesota Wild

Justin Bailey played eight NHL games last season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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With rookie winger Hudson Fasching battling a groin injury, the Buffalo Sabres recalled Justin Bailey from the Rochester Americans this morning.

The Sabres play a road game against the Minnesota Wild tonight.

Bailey, 21, has three goals and four points in seven AHL games this season. The Williamsville native played eight games as a rookie with the Sabres last season, compiling zero points. He had 20 goals and 45 points in 70 games with the Amerks in 2015-16.

Bailey is slated to play …

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Tyler Ennis (63) battles Minnesota's Zac Dalpe on Thursday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Just six games in, it already feels like past seasons. The Sabres are going nowhere fast again. Thursday’s embarrassing 4-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild, their fourth straight defeat and fifth overall, proved that.

Few expected the Sabres would be this bad again, but two weeks into another trying year, they still rank among the NHL’s bottom-feeders.

Clearly, the Sabres carried Tuesday’s brutal 4-3 shootout loss in Philadelphia, a game in which they blew a three-goal, third-period lead, into Thursday’s …

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Jason Pominville's role has changed in recent seasons. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Minnesota Wild winger Jason Pominville thought for a moment, scanned his mind for some names. The former Sabres captain came up with two.

“Uh, like, Foligno, Ennis,” Pominville said this morning inside KeyBank Center. “Umm, that might be it.”

That’s it. Only two players from Pominville’s long tenure here, which ended April 3, 2013, are still with the Sabres: wingers Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno.

“There’s not a lot of guys left,” Pominville said.

Pominville, 33, was the first big name to …

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Kyle Okposo is excited for his home debut. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – It’s simple, really. If the Sabres have any hope of making the playoffs, they must become a strong home team, something they haven’t been in years.

The Sabres, who host the Minnesota Wild tonight at KeyBank Center, are 0-1 at home this season. They went 16-19-6 last season, when only two teams earned fewer home wins.

“It’s something we didn’t do last year and something we talked about doing this year, making this a hard place to play and getting …

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Josh Gorges said the Sabres got too fancy Tuesday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – To locate the Sabres’ current standing, look in a familiar place. Find the Atlantic Division and scan down, all the way to the bottom. There, in eighth place, you’ll spot the 1-2-2 club.

The Sabres are one of four NHL teams with just a single win and four points. Only one team, the Arizona Coyotes, has fewer points.

Yes, it’s early. The Sabres have 77 games left, starting with tonight’s home tilt against the Minnesota Wild. Still, the top three …

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Alexander Nylander has looked good so far in training camp. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Some quick updates this morning from KeyBank Center, where the Sabres prepared for tonight’s preseason opener against the Minnesota Wild before flying to Penn State University:

– The Sabres will use a mix of veterans, youngsters and AHL players for the tilt at Pegula Ice Arena.

Eighth overall pick Alexander Nylander, whose early training camp play has impressed coach Dan Bylsma, will debut on the left wing beside center Cal O’Reilly and Williamsville’s Cole Schneider.

Newcomer Anders Nilsson will start in …

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Anders Nilsson will likely be the Sabres' backup goalie this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Two years ago, frustrated by his limited opportunities, Sabres newcomer Anders Nilsson bolted North America for a gig tending goal for Ak Bars Kazan, a Russian team in the KHL.

The decision, of course, made Nilsson’s NHL future iffy. But after 23 appearances with the New York Islanders, the Swede said he felt “ready for the next step.” He wanted to develop at a high level, something a fourth straight season in the minors wouldn’t offer him.

“You know, it’s …

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