The Eichel Era

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Montreal Canadiens

Robin Lehner hits Montreal's Michael McCarron on Wednesday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Thirty minutes before the Sabres’ feisty 3-2 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday, goalies Robin Lehner and Ben Scrivens chatted amicably at center ice during pregame warm-ups.

But by about 9 p.m., as chaos enveloped his crease at the end of a penalty-filled second period, the fiery Sabres goalie wanted to see Scrivens, someone he called “a good guy off the ice,” again.

Seconds after Montreal’s Michael McCarron punched Lehner after he grabbed him, he shot Scrivens a …

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Robin Lehner believes smaller equipment might help goalies. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Robin Lehner’s the NHL’s biggest goalie.

Sure, a few are taller than the Sabres’ new starter. Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop, for example, is 6-foot-7 but weighs 31 fewer pounds than his former AHL teammate.

Lehner, of course, looks huge in his net. But so do a lot of other goalies much smaller than the Swede.

“There’s guys out there that weigh 160 pounds (who are) not that tall who look bigger than me, and … I’m …

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Ryan O'Reilly (90) stickhandles between Detroit's Alexey Marchenko (47) and Henrik Zetterberg (40) on Jan. 2. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Since a broken right foot has sidelined Ryan O’Reilly the last 11 games, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma wants to ease his No. 1 center and most versatile asset back into the lineup tonight after a 26-day absence.

So O’Reilly, who plays more than any NHL forward at 21 minutes, 51 seconds a game, might see a little less action against the Montreal Canadiens inside the First Niagara Center.

“I think you do ease him back in, without a question,” Sabres …

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Marcus Foligno has been showcasing consistency. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Four years ago this month, the Sabres summoned a rookie with a famous hockey name and one game of NHL experience for the stretch drive of their playoff push.

Ultimately, they felt short, but winger Marcus Foligno’s supreme exploits – six goals and 13 points – nearly helped them roar into the postseason.

For years, as he struggled to find consistency and score, Foligno’s play, fairly or not, has been measured against that rollicking 13-game run he enjoyed as a …

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Brian Gionta (12) battles the New York Rangers' Brady Skjei on Tuesday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – What’s new for Sabres captain Brian Gionta is really old.

As a youngster with the New Jersey Devils, years before he developed into an often lethal scoring threat, the diminutive winger won a Stanley Cup in 2003 playing on a checking line.

“I came into the league kind of in the role I’m in now,” Gionta said Wednesday after the Sabres prepared for tonight’s road tilt against the Montreal Canadiens, the team he captained from 2010-14.

While Gionta has compiled seven …

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Marcus Foligno celebrates his second goal Friday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – On the Sabres bench, they were all wondering what Marcus Foligno would do with his second-period penalty shot Friday, coach Dan Bylsma said.

The hulking winger possesses a lethal shot, yet he rarely utilizes it. From watching him up close in practice for months, Bylsma has learned Foligno has a tendency to deke.

So as he roared in at 17:41, Bylsma must’ve been mildly surprised to see him unleash a wicked wrist shot high over Montreal Canadiens goalie Mike Condon’s …

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Jake McCabe had his suspension rescinded Friday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Before Dan Bylsma answered a question about the suspect hit that likely concussed Sabres winger Dan Catenacci late in Thursday’s ugly 5-1 road loss in Philadelphia, the coach paused for a few moments.

Clearly, Bylsma, who said he hadn’t watched a replay, wanted to choose his words carefully.

Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas, who has a reputation for questionable hits and has been suspended by the NHL once, won’t have a disciplinary hearing. Meanwhile, Catenacci missed Friday’s exciting 6-4 win against …

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Dan Cantenacci will miss tonight's game. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Before Dan Bylsma answered a question about the suspect hit that likely concussed Sabres winger Dan Catenacci late in Thursday’s ugly 5-1 road loss in Philadelphia, the coach paused for a few moments.

Clearly, Bylsma, who said he hadn’t watched a replay, wanted to choose his words carefully.

Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas, who has a reputation for questionable hits and has been suspended by the NHL once, won’t have a disciplinary hearing, according to the Cherry Hilly Courier Post’s Dave …

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Zemgus Girgensons struggled offensively earlier this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Barely a minute into the third period last Tuesday, Sabres winger Zemgus Girgensons roared down the left side into the Ottawa zone before stopping and lifting a saucer pass to center Jack Eichel, who was zooming to the net down the middle.

The rookie connected, got stymied by Senators goalie Craig Anderson but managed to tuck the loose puck in for the winner in the Sabres’ 3-2 comeback victory.

The slick score, the duo’s fourth goal and sixth point in …

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Jack Eichel (15) battles with Montreal's Alex Galchenyuk on Friday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – Just like the old days. For stretches Friday, it felt like five or 10 years ago as the Sabres’ talent overwhelmed the NHL’s best club, the undefeated Montreal Canadiens.

After falling behind 2-0 early, the Sabres roared back, tying the entertaining tilt just over halfway through. The crowd inside the First Niagara Center sensed something special could happen.

Then, just as quickly as it started, the Sabres imploded for the first time this season, allowing five unanswered to close an …

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