The Eichel Era

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Pittsburgh Penguins

Chad Johnson made 42 saves Tuesday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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PITTSBURGH – What was shaping up to be the Buffalo Sabres’ most impressive and unlikely win this season quickly turned into a nightmare Tuesday and ended with another loss to the Penguins.

After going up 3-0 before the first period ended inside a stunned Consol Energy Center, the Sabres completely imploded during a disastrous second, allowing four goals, including two late short-handed scores during the same power play.

“I thought we were feeling good, then we took our foot off the pedal,” …

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Jake McCabe has established himself with the Sabres this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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PITTSBURGH – Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe understands how valuable the late-season NHL experience rookies Hudson Fasching and Casey Nelson have been gaining will be for their development.

Two years ago, McCabe, 22, left the University of Wisconsin following his junior year. McCabe loved college and wanted to stay with the Badgers. Still, as a former second-round pick ready for pro hockey, he knew he needed to join the Sabres.

“It made too much sense for me to leave,” McCabe said Tuesday …

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Ryan O'Reilly (90) will play left wing tonight. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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PITTSBURGH – With Buffalo Sabres winger Evander Kane sidelined for tonight’s tilt against the Penguins, coach Dan Bylsma will shuffle his lines, moving No. 1 center Ryan O’Reilly to the left wing beside pivot Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart.

The Sabres’ new “super line” has 62 total goals this season. No one else in the lineup has more than 10.

Bylsma said forward Cal O’Reilly, a healthy scratch the last two games, will return. Zemgus Girgensons, Eichel’s winger recently will switch back …

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Sabres goalie Robin Lehner tries to ward off Pittsburgh's Tom Kuhnhackl on Sunday afternoon with Mike Weber (6) nearby. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – For about 20 minutes, the Sabres responded to the loss of No. 1 center Ryan O’Reilly, their most versatile and important asset, by playing one of their best first periods in weeks.

But by the second period of Sunday afternoon’s 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, O’Reilly’s absence became very evident as the Sabres began chasing the game and fell behind.

“He’s your No. 1 guy, and that’s something … you can’t replace,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said after announcing …

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Justin Bailey has played five NHL games. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – At a few points in the first period of the Sabres’ 4-3 loss Sunday afternoon, rookie winger Justin Bailey’s first NHL goal felt imminent.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Bailey, thanks his size and speed, kept generating scoring chances around Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in his fifth NHL game.

While the Williamsville native didn’t score in 11 minutes, 55 seconds of action, he finished the contest confident he’ll net that elusive first goal sooner than later.

“It’ll come,” Bailey said inside the …

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Ryan O'Reilly (90) is the Sabres' most versatile player. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

BUFFALO – Center Ryan O’Reilly, the Sabres’ leading scorer and most versatile player, will miss this afternoon’s home game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, coach Dan Bylsma said.

Update: Bylsma said following the Sabres’ 4-3 loss O’Reilly will miss three to four weeks. O’Reilly was sporting a boot on his right leg after the game.

To replace O’Reilly, the team’s only NHL All-Star, the Sabre recalled rookie winger Justin Bailey from the Rochester Americans this morning. Bylsma said winger Sam Reinhart, who has …

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Jack Eichel has fit in well with his teammates. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Within minutes Friday, screen grabs of Robin Lehner’s fierce eyes – wide and hellbent on sending a message – started spreading all over the Internet after the goalie’s emphatic response to an ugly hit on Sabres teammate Zach Bogosian.

“That should be one of those big heads and make it for the fans to wear,” coach Dan Bylsma joked Saturday after the Sabres prepared for this afternoon’s tilt against superstar Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

By Saturday afternoon, a …

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Pascal Dupuis (9) celebrates Ben Lovejoy's goal againt Sabres goalie Chad Johnson on Thursday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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PITTSBURGH – A year or two ago, as the Buffalo Sabres rebuilt their lineup from the ground up, a game like their exciting 4-3 loss to the Penguins on Thursday would’ve turned into an utter annihilation.

But against a team that usually destroys them, the Sabres roared back from an early 2-0 deficit inside the Consol Energy Center, their personal house of horrors, tying it before the first period ended.

When the Penguins went up two goals again late, the Sabres pumped …

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Mike Weber played his 10th game in Pittsburgh on Thursday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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PITTSBURGH – By now, after years and years of getting scratched, gritty veteran Mike Weber knows sitting out occasionally accompanies his role as the Buffalo Sabres’ sixth or seventh defenseman.

“You never want to come out,” Weber said Thursday, “so I understand it’s kind of unfortunately built into my role for reasons unknown. … I just continue to come to the rink determined to work hard and be a good teammate, and when I get my opportunities, take full advantage of …

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Daniel Sprong had an impressive training camp. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

PITTSBURGH – A few years back, when Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel played in summer hockey tournaments, spectators would flock to whichever rink had the talented youngster destined for the NHL.

They weren’t looking for Eichel, the second overall pick in June.

Instead, they wanted to see Daniel Sprong, a slick winger the Penguins drafted 46th overall.

“When we were young, he was, like, unbelievable, best player in all those summer tournaments,” Eichel said this morning inside the Consol Energy Center. “To play …

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