The Eichel Era

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Carlo Colaiacovo enjoys mentoring young players. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – Carlo Colaiacovo’s goal when he signed a one-year contract in July was pretty straightforward. Following three seasons of sporadic duty, the veteran defenseman wanted to become an everyday player again with the Sabres.

“When I signed in Buffalo, I believed that opportunity was there for me, and obviously things change,” Colaiacovo said last week.

Things changed a lot on the blue line in a hurry.

The Sabres signed Cody Franson days before training camp started. Jake McCabe, a prospect on the …

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Hudson Fasching scored 8:37 into his NHL debut. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Prior to his NHL debut Saturday afternoon, Sabres winger Hudson Fasching told his family and friends he wouldn’t know what to do if he scored a goal in his first game.

The affable Fasching, who always seems to be bursting with energy, joked he might “blackout on adrenaline.”

“That was almost the case,” a smiling Fasching said after scoring a nifty goal 8:37 into the Sabres’ exciting 3-2 comeback win against the Winnipeg Jets.

The 6-foot-2, 216-pound Fasching has been hyped …

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Former Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers (57) skates past Paul Byron last season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Drew Stafford called it a “healthy separation.” The Winnipeg Jets winger said he has no ill will toward anyone here. He enjoyed his nine-year Sabres career.

As a struggling veteran months away from free agency last year, Stafford knew the rebuilding Sabres would trade him. Sure enough, Stafford, 30, was dealt with defenseman Tyler Myers on Feb. 11, 2015 in the blockbuster that brought defenseman Zach Bogosian and winger Evander Kane to the Sabres.

“I was kind of expecting something …

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Sabres defenseman Casey Nelson spent three years in college. ©2016, Andy Visockis, Minnesota State Athletics
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Barely two years ago, Casey Nelson wasn’t ready for NCAA hockey. After some notable gaffes early in his freshman season, the newest Sabres defenseman got yanked from the lineup.

“His first couple games in college hockey were tough,” said Mike Hastings, who coached Nelson three seasons at Minnesota State University.

Nelson, 23, sat out a chunk of his first season before finally earning regular duty late in the year.

“I kind of got thrown in pretty early with a lot of …

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Hudson Fasching made an appearance at the First Niagara Center in 2012 at the All-American Prospects Game. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Somewhere in Minnesota earlier today, the Fasching family was probably anxiously waiting for Sabres rookie Hudson Fasching to phone home with some special news.

“I think they’re kind of ready if they get the call,” Fasching said this afternoon inside the First Niagara Center.

Minutes after Fasching spoke, following a chat with Sabres coach Dan Bylsma, he likely called his parents to tell them he would be making his NHL debut Saturday afternoon when the Sabres host the Winnipeg Jets.

“I …

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Sabres goalie Chad Johnson stops Ottawa's Bobby Ryan on Friday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – In the span of six months, Sabres goalie Chad Johnson has been a backup, a starter, part of a platoon with rookie Linus Ullmark and a backup again.

For this weekend at least, with Robin Lehner sidelined, Johnson is the Sabres’ top netminder again.

Johnson started Friday’s 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators inside the First Niagara Center, his fifth straight victory, and will get another nod tonight in Toronto against the Maple Leafs, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said.

Lehner could …

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Carlo Colaiacovo was scratched for more than two months. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – For 10 weeks, as Carlo Colaiacovo sat game after game – 30 out of 32, including a whopping 15 straight – the Sabres defenseman kept giving coach Dan Bylsma a message.

“Every game he was, ‘I’m ready to go,’” Bylsma said prior to Saturday afternoon’s 3-2 overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes inside the First Niagara Center.

These days, even with Colaiacovo, 33, dressing regularly again – he played his 10th straight game Saturday – the affable veteran keeps chatting …

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Sam Reinhart scored the shootout winner Monday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

TORONTO – Call it whatever you want – a tank, a deep rebuild – the Maple Leafs gutted their roster recently, leaving coach Mike Babcock a team filled with unknown neophytes to mold into NHL talent.

The Buffalo Sabres, meanwhile, have already endured what the Leafs are just beginning: a total overhaul. The Sabres are, theoretically, two years ahead of Toronto.

At this stage, they should exploit a reeling club dressing six rookies. The Sabres did Monday, although it took them more …

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Evander Kane (9) has been one of the Sabres' steadiest goal scorers. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – In his last three starts, goalie Robin Lehner has been the Sabres’ backbone, stopping 100 of the 105 shots opponents have pumped on him, a gaudy .952 save percentage.

For his efforts, thanks to just a single goal of support, Lehner earned zero wins.

“It’s frustrating to let those (performances) go to waste,” Sabres winger Marcus Foligno said Wednesday.

For the first time since 2010-11, the Sabres could have four players – Jack Eichel, Evander Kane, Ryan O’Reilly and Sam Reinhart …

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Connor McDavid (97) downplayed hype before his first game in Buffalo. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Dan Bylsma, as he loves to do, kept accompanying his words with a sly grin. The so-called rivalry between phenoms Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid is a “made-up” scenario, the Sabres coach said Tuesday.

The Sabres’ 2-1 overtime loss to McDavid’s Edmonton Oilers was the first-ever NHL meeting between the “generational talents” drafted first and second overall last year. The rookies barely know each other.

How could they truly be rivals?

“The hype is produced,” Bylsma told a packed media room …

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