Thomas Vanek will miss his sixth straight game tonight. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ sole focus on game in front of them; Vanek should practice again Monday

BUFFALO – Forget about the other seven or eight teams battling for that final Eastern Conference playoff berth. The 12th-place Sabres simply need to keep winning games and mind their own business.

“We’ve been same story, focused on the game in front of us like a lot of teams are doing in our situation, where they got to get points out of every game to make the playoffs,” interim coach Ron Rolston said ... Read the full article

Jhonas Enroth has played three times this season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Enroth’s start could decide future with Sabres

Jhonas Enroth probably doesn’t have to win tonight in New Jersey to save his job. No, if the backup goalie simply plays well and gives the Buffalo Sabres a chance to triumph against the Devils, then he should get another nod at some point.

Of course, winning his first game since Nov. 26, 2011 wouldn’t hurt. Early last season, Enroth couldn’t lose. Fans wanted the 24-year-old Swede playing instead of franchise netminder Ryan Miller.

As ... Read the full article

Jochen Hecht joined the Sabres in 2002. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

With Rolston in charge, Hecht’s long Sabres tenure could be ending

Judge him differently, his supporters said. Sure, Jochen Hecht’s no longer a 20-goal, 45-point player. But the 35-year-old forward’s a veteran asset. He’s a good guy in the room and can still contribute something on the ice.

No way, the detractors said. The German was declining before he suffered three concussions in a 10-month span. The Buffalo Sabres shouldn’t have re-signed him in January. The move shows they can’t move on from the ... Read the full article

The frustration has often been visible on Ryan Miller's face this season ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Halfway through disappointing season, Sabres’ playoff chances slim

BUFFALO – Forget about merely making the playoffs. Forty-six days ago, a long postseason run felt like a real possibility following the Sabres’ season-opening 5-2 home victory over Philadelphia.

The next day, a 2-1 road triumph in Toronto only strengthened the belief the veteran club could be an Eastern Conference heavyweight.

The Sabres possessed offensive firepower, a deep defense corps, unyielding muscle and a franchise goalie, right?

Well …

The 13th-place Sabres ... Read the full article

Jason Pominville beats New Jersey goalie Johan Hedberg in the shootout Saturday. ©2013, Janet Schultz, Olean Times Herald

Sabres beat Devils, have first 3-game winning streak this season

BUFFALO – Suddenly, the Sabres’ worst season in recent memory looks much more promising. Don’t order those playoff tickets yet. But the team, given up for dead just a week ago, has quickly cobbled together three straight wins under interim coach Ron Rolston, responding to adversity in each one.

In their latest victory, a 4-3 shootout triumph on Saturday before a noisy capacity crowd of 19,070 fans inside the First Niagara Center, the Sabres never ... Read the full article

Brian Flynn skated 8:50 on Saturday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres rookie Flynn makes NHL debut as injured Vanek sits

BUFFALO – In Brian Flynn’s mind, he “had no business getting drafted.” Getting bypassed during two consecutive NHL Entry Drafts was no slight.

“I wasn’t very good,” the 24-year-old Flynn acknowledged Saturday afternoon prior to making his NHL debut in the Sabres’ 4-3 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils inside the First Niagara Center. “I was undersized. But I think that helped me a lot. Ever since then I’ve gotten better every year.”

Flynn ... Read the full article

Brian Flynn will make his NHL debut this afternoon. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Vanek out; Flynn set to make NHL debut

BUFFALO – When Thomas Vanek sat out practice as a maintenance day Friday, interim Sabres coach Ron Rolston thought his leading scorer would play today against the New Jersey Devils.

“Coming back this morning, he still was sore,” Rolston said earlier this afternoon inside the First Niagara Center.

Vanek (upper body) will sit today, although Rolston believes it’s just a short-term injury. The slick winger could return Sunday in New York versus the Rangers.

Meanwhile, ... Read the full article

Nathan Gerbe would've missed months of action if the NHL had been playing earlier. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Gerbe regaining old form following offseason back surgery

BUFFALO – As Nathan Gerbe approaches 100 percent following offseason back surgery, the 5-foot-5 Sabres winger has regained his confidence, ramping up his tenacity and performing like the fearless, speedy pest from the past.

Gerbe nearly fought 6-foot-3 Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf last week, a sure sign he’s bumping full-tilt again. Prior to Thursday’s slick two-goal performance, Gerbe had been zooming around the ice.

It appeared his long offensive slump – he hadn’t scored since ... Read the full article

©2012

Penalties doom Sabres in loss to Devils

BUFFALO – The five triumphs in six games, the recent three-game winning streak, it was probably all just a tease. At this point, the 14th-place Sabres can’t be postseason contenders, can they? Are they really going to leapfrog six teams and nab the last spot?

In their second straight home loss, a weak 4-1 decision to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, the Sabres lacked oomph, taking a season-high seven minor penalties while ... Read the full article

Injuries had pushed Mike Weber's ice time over 20 minutes some nights recently. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Weber playing better with less ice time

BUFFALO – Some players thrive with extra ice time. The constant action and extra pressure helps them find a groove.

Don’t count Sabres defenseman Mike Weber among them. The 24-year-old struggled when a slew of injuries pushed him over 20 minutes a night.

Weber played 19:58 or more in 12 of 13 games recently, including a career-high 26:58 on Jan. 14. He compiled a minus-4 rating one night and a minus-8 overall. The tough, stay-at-home ... Read the full article