The Eichel Era

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Ovechkin

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
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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
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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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Tyler Ennis was hurt Wednesday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Struggling Sabres winger Tyler Ennis is week-to-week with an upper-body injury, coach Dan Bylsma said this morning.

Ennis, who absorbed a big hit Wednesday from Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, is enduring a miserable season. The 26-year-old recently missed 14 games with an upper-body injury that is unrelated to his current one, Bylsma said. He has only three goals and 11 points in 23 games and hasn’t scored since Oct. 27, a 14-game stretch.

“He was just getting up to speed and …

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Matt Moulson has struggled all season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Struggling Sabres winger Matt Moulson understands that after going 24 games without scoring a goal – a career-long stretch that dates back to Nov. 1 – sitting out as a healthy scratch Wednesday was probably a good thing.

“I think … maybe (it) was a good time to just get my mind right and make sure I’m playing the way I’m capable of to help this team,” Moulson said Thursday inside the First Niagara Center.

Moulson, 32, returned Thursday against …

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Alex Ovechkin scored his 493rd NHL goal Monday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – At some points this season, the Sabres’ power play was their backbone, generating critical goals when they couldn’t score five-on-five.

But these days, the Sabres are awful on the man advantage. After going scoreless in three opportunities in Monday’s chippy 2-0 loss to the Washington Capitals before a sellout crowd of 19,070 fans inside the First Niagara Center, the Sabres have converted zero of their last 17 chances over the past six games.

The power play, not surprisingly, has become …

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Jack Eichel will play his first NHL game in Boston tonight. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Sabres rookie Jack Eichel has played big games in his hometown rink, Boston’s TD Garden, before. As a college freshman last season, the center starred as his Boston University Terriers captured The Beanpot, a prestigious tournament between local schools.

Google “Eichel” and “Beanpot” and a slew of pictures of an ecstatic Eichel clutching the Beanpot trophy will pop up.

But tonight’s tilt against the Bruins, Eichel’s first appearance in Boston with the Sabres, will be a much different experience for …

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John Scott played only his seventh game Friday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – The sight, of course, would be odd. Just imagine 6-foot-8 former Sabres tough guy John Scott, who has five goals in his eight-year career, competing against superstars like Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos in the new three-on-three NHL All-Star Game format.

If fans keep casting online ballots for Scott, that could happen Jan. 31 in Nashville.

Right now, Scott, a healthy scratch 19 times with the Arizona Coyotes this season, is the leading NHL All-Star vote-getter.

That’s not a misprint. Scott, …

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Evander Kane wants to score 40 or 50 goals. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – The way Sabres winger Evander Kane sees it, after scoring 30 times four seasons ago, he firmly established his goal-scoring prowess.

“Thirty is just kind of a set number,” Kane said Thursday after training camp opened inside the First Niagara Center. “I’ve already scored 30. So maybe I want to score 40 or 50.”

Yes, Kane, seven months removed from shoulder surgery, has set the bar extremely high for his first season with the Sabres.

Only three NHL players scored more …

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