Johan Larsson played 36 games this season. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Johan Larsson’s absence hurt Sabres

BUFFALO – When center Johan Larsson suffered two season-ending dislocations New Year’s Eve, the Sabres quietly experienced a critical blow to their playoff hopes.

While the absences of some higher-profile forwards – Jack Eichel and Kyle Okposo, for example – garnered more attention, the Sabres struggled to replace Larsson’s tenacious two-way game.

Without Larsson, who dislocated his elbow and wrist, the Sabres became a “different team,” said Marcus Foligno, the Swede’s regular winger on ... Read the full article

Jack Eichel was the Sabres' leading scorer this season. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Disappointing season leaves Sabres’ Jack Eichel seething

BUFFALO – Jack Eichel looked like he would’ve rather been anywhere else. The Sabres center was restless throughout his six-minute chat with the media Monday, mostly giving terse statements and looking around as he stood at a podium.

Eichel, 20, isn’t handling the Sabres’ last-place finish in the Atlantic Division – they also ended 2016-17 an embarrassing 15th in the 16-team Eastern Conference – very well.

“It’s tough,” a seething Eichel said inside KeyBank Center ... Read the full article

Ryan O'Reilly (90) believes everyone needs to be better. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Ryan O’Reilly sick of losing: ‘It’s getting exhausting’

BUFFALO – At this point, as the Sabres stumble at the end of another disappointing season, frustration has started overwhelming Ryan O’Reilly.

O’Reilly, 26, has experienced enough losing. The popular center passionately called out himself and his teammates to be better during a brutally honest chat with the media prior to Wednesday’s home finale against the Montreal Canadiens, a 2-1 win.

“I’m sick of losing,” O’Reilly said inside KeyBank Center. “It’s getting exhausting and ... Read the full article

Jack Eichel (15) wasn't as good as Toronto's Auston Matthews on Monday. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres implode early, lose to Maple Leafs

BUFFALO – For the opening 20 minutes of Monday’s 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Sabres were downright awful in their worst display of hockey all season. The embarrassing period, punctuated by a disastrous 43-second stretch, could have dramatic repercussions.

There have been a lot of bad periods over the Sabres’ six-season playoff drought. It can be argued Monday’s was the worst.

The upstart Maple Leafs outclassed the sloppy Sabres early before the ... Read the full article

The Sabres want to give Alexander Nylander a look. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres prospect Alexander Nylander debuts against Maple Leafs, brother

BUFFALO – Why now? Why did the Sabres recall top forward prospect Alexander Nylander on Monday of all days, with the Toronto Maple Leafs and his brother, slick rookie William Nylander, in town?

On one hand, the night was unforgettable. NHL debuts are always special, but could you imagine doing it against your brother? On the other hand, the pressure on Alexander Nylander, 19, only increased with his high-scoring sibling in town with the scorching ... Read the full article

Alexander Nylander was recalled this morning. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Debut against brother will be special for Sabres’ Alexander Nylander

BUFFALO – Why now? Why did the Sabres recall top forward prospect Alexander Nylander today of all days, with the Toronto Maple Leafs and his brother, slick rookie William Nylander, in town?

On one hand, the night will be unforgettable. NHL debuts are always special, but could you imagine doing it against your brother? On the other hand, the pressure on Alexander Nylander, 19, will only increase.... Read the full article

C.J. Smith, shown here with the USHL's Chicago Steel, will make his NHL debut this afternoon. ©2017, MJB Images, Chicago Steel

Sabres rookie C.J. Smith ready for NHL debut

BUFFALO – Thursday, Sabres newcomer C.J. Smith’s first day in the NHL, was “extremely overwhelming,” the rookie winger said.

“I didn’t get to soak it in as much as I wanted to,” Smith said Saturday inside HarborCenter.

Smith signed his entry-level contract in the morning, practiced with his new teammates shortly after and had to take a test online – the finance major is still enrolled at UMass Lowell, where he spent three seasons – ... Read the full article

Rasmus Ristolainen (55) hits Carolina's Jeff Skinner on Dec. 22. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Rested Rasmus Ristolainen ready to return to Sabres

BUFFALO – For Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, his three-game suspension meant he received a short break from the rigors of a long season.

“I got a good rest,” Ristolainen said of his absence. “I worked out well, picked up practices and I’m ready to go. It felt like a month.”

Ristolainen’s ban for hitting Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel is over. The workhorse will return for Sunday afternoon’s home tilt against the New York Islanders.

While the ... Read the full article

C.J. Smith just finished a strong junior season. ©2017, UMass Lowell

C.J. Smith sees fit with Sabres, Buffalo

BUFFALO – As a speedy forward fresh off a 23-goal, 51-point junior season, Sabres newcomer C.J. Smith had plenty of suitors earlier this week after he decided to leave UMass Lowell and turn pro.

So why did Smith, 22, ultimately sign a two-year, entry-level contract with the Sabres? The city certainly played a factor.

“It just kind of fits the person I am,” Smith said Thursday following his first NHL practice. “I grew up in ... Read the full article

Nick Deslauriers has a two-game point streak. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Nick Deslauriers finally playing, contributing

BUFFALO – When Sabres coach Dan Bylsma charged Nick Deslauriers with creating some energy, the gritty winger’s first instinct, of course, was to fight.

But these days, those opportunities are scarce. Deslauriers has only fought four times this season. He certainly wasn’t going to find one enjoying a rare shift on the first line with the listless Sabres down three goals Saturday.

“I would’ve loved to get a fight there, but I don’t think ... Read the full article