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Auston Matthews should visit Buffalo with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 3. ©2016, Margaret Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – After the Sabres open their season Oct. 13 at home against the Montreal Canadiens, they start a four-game road trip – longer than any swing they had last season – three days later against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.

That’s just one notable stretch of the 82-game 2016-17 schedule the NHL released Tuesday.

The Sabres, who went 19-17-5 on the road last season, better get comfortable playing away from the First Niagara Center early, as eight of their first …

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Jack Eichel and the Sabres open the season Oct. 13. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – After the Sabres open their season Oct. 13 at home against the Montreal Canadiens, they start a four-game road trip – longer than any swing they had last season – three days later against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.

That’s just one notable stretch of the 82-game 2016-17 schedule the NHL released this afternoon.

The Sabres, who went 19-17-5 on the road last season, better get comfortable playing away from the First Niagara Center early, as eight of their …

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Tyler Ennis wants to improve his practice habits. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – As winger Tyler Ennis watched his teammates enjoy some success during his three-month recovery from a concussion, the Sabres’ longest-tenured player reflected on his career and how he must improve.

One day, Ennis, 26, told Tim Murray, “I used to come in to practice and put my skates and pants on and have fun,” the general manager said Monday inside the First Niagara Center.

“Maybe this makes him a better player,” Murray said. “Maybe this makes him a harder worker.”

The …

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Tyler Ennis is felt good on the ice Thursday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – After experiencing a “strange few months” recovering from a scary concussion, Tyler Ennis can smile now. But at times throughout the past 13 weeks, as his health constantly changed and the emotional toll wore on him, the speedy Sabres winger feared for his future.

“There’s days where you feel great and days where it’s tough,” Ennis said Thursday following his first practice since he was injured Dec. 30. “To say I wasn’t scared at some point would probably be …

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Jack Eichel zooms in on Minnesota goalie Devan Dubnyk on March 5. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Thanks to a scheduling quirk three months ago, the Sabres enjoyed a six-day Christmas break, a rare opportunity to recharge during the rigorous six-month, 82-game season.

At that point, 33 games into his career, Sabres center Jack Eichel had nine goals and 16 points, terrific numbers for a 19-year-old. Still, those statistics ranked nowhere near the NHL’s elite.

Eichel used the time to go home to Boston and relax. Having played only 55 total games over eight months as a …

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Jack Eichel doesn't know Connor McDavid well. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
3

BUFFALO – The so-called rivalry between top draft picks Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid, well, that’s simply a “made-up scenario,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said.

Bylsma, as he’s known to do, said that with a sly grin. Like just about everyone else, he wants to see the youngsters dubbed generational talents face each other for the first time tonight when the Sabres host the Edmonton Oilers.

“The hype is produced,” Bylsma told a packed media room this morning. “They’re great players. We …

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Johan Larsson has only two goals this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Early in the Sabres’ 4-2 comeback win Wednesday in Montreal, for one of the few times this season, center Johan Larsson drove to the net with authority and narrowly missed scoring just his second goal.

With 8:14 left in the contest, the Swede skated to the crease again and was rewarded with his first score in 20 games, the winner against the Canadiens.

For Larsson, 23, it was his best performance in what has mostly been a colossally disappointing season.

“No …

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Tim Schaller scores his first-period short-handed goal Saturday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Count the Sabres’ exciting 4-1 shellacking of the high-powered Washington Capitals on Saturday as perhaps the most impressive victory felt in these parts in years.

The 29th-ranked Sabres ended a five-game home losing streak while manhandling the league-leading Capitals, who roared into the First Niagara Center having won five straight contests and 14 of the last 16.

This one was never in doubt and had a little bit of everything. First-period goals from Phil Varone and Tim Schaller, two recent …

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Phil Varone will replace Zemgus Girgensons. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Just a couple of weeks ago, the chances of Phil Varone earning another recall to the Sabres appeared to be slim. The center, 25, was struggling with the Rochester Americans, getting scratched thanks to a glut of veterans and a terrible minus rating.

When the Amerks played a game on Dec. 30 at the First Niagara Center, Varone sat out.

But Varone, the Amerks’ leading goal scorer with 10, has recently been the AHL’s club’s best forward. With winger Zemgus …

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Sam Reinhart celebrates his tying goal Saturday afternoon. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Sabres winger Sam Reinhart doesn’t care how his tying power-play goal late in Saturday afternoon’s 4-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings went in the net. The rookie only cares about scoring his first goal in 11 games.

Just before Detroit’s Tomas Nosek hit the puck into his own net 8:58 into the third period, Reinhart narrowly missed beating Petr Mrazek in front. Reinhart was credited with his ninth goal since he was the last Sabres player to touch …

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