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Ovechkin

Jake McCabe has been playing big minutes. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe, like most hockey players, has a pretty straightforward nickname he was given years ago, “Caber.”

But these days, McCabe, 23, is a top-pair defender, skating in every situation for a team whose blue line has been ravaged by injuries in recent weeks.

So the Wisconsin native’s versatility has earned him another moniker.

“We joked around, called him ‘The Swiss Army Knife,’” center Ryan O’Reilly said Thursday after the Sabres prepared for tonight’s tilt against the Washington Capitals …

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Josh Gorges has missed three games. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – When practice started this morning, Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges, who was supposed to be sidelined weeks with a non-displaced fracture in his left foot, was skating with his teammates.

Incredibly, Gorges, who has missed three games, could play Friday against Washington.

“Testing it out, seeing how it feels,” Gorges said inside KeyBank Center. “When it’s in your boot, it’s not much different than being in your skate. The boot will act to hold everything together.”

Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said Gorges …

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Taylor Fedun is a productive AHL defenseman. ©2016, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Had Taylor Fedun been healthy enough to participate in training camp, then perhaps the Sabres would’ve recalled the high-scoring defenseman earlier this season.

But Fedun, who made his Sabres debut Thursday, fractured his foot in April playing with the Utica Comets, the Vancouver Canucks’ AHL affiliate. The Princeton product didn’t begin skating again until the day before training camp started, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said.

So while Fedun, 28, participated in meetings with his new team, he stayed off the …

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Steven Stamkos is a lethal scorer. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – On the surface, it might look like a season-killing injury for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Two-time 50-goal scorer Steven Stamkos could reportedly miss four months after tearing his lateral meniscus in an innocent-looking play Tuesday in Detroit.

The Lightning captain plans to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery in Colorado, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, who also reported a four-month recovery is a best-case scenario.

Stamkos, 26, and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin are the only superstars who have consistently busted through the gridlock …

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Nick Baptiste played his first NHL game in Ottawa on Saturday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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OTTAWA – As a native of nearby Barrhaven, about a 10-minute drive from the Canadian Tire Centre, Buffalo Sabres rookie Nick Baptiste had quite the cheering section for his sixth NHL game.

“There’s going to be a lot of people here tonight – a lot of family, friends, teachers, people in the area,” Baptiste said prior to Saturday’s 2-1 comeback win against the Senators, his first NHL appearance here. “My brother’s whole hockey team is coming. There’s going to be quite …

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Marcus Foligno had four shots last game. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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OTTAWA – It was almost a year ago, around the time, not coincidentally, Marcus Foligno began the most consistent stretch of his career, that the Buffalo Sabres winger finally developed a shoot-first mentality.

By the end of 2015-16, Foligno had pumped a career-high 81 shots on goal. Considering he registered only nine shots in his first 20 games, the number was significant.

These days, Foligno’s consistently shooting the puck. No, he’s not exactly Alex Ovechkin. Still, Foligno has 13 shots in 10 …

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Zemgus Girgensons was all over the ice last season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Sabres team that will convene today for training camp physicals, the official start of the 2016-17 season, isn’t much different from the one that just finished seventh in the Atlantic Division.

Sure, there were some notable summer additions. Winger Kyle Okposo, who signed a seven-year, $42 million contract July 1, was arguably the best free agent available. Dmitri Kulikov gives the Sabres a sturdy veteran to skate beside No. 1 defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.

Still, more than anything, the Sabres …

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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
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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 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
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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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