Zemgus Girgensons, NHL All-Star

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Stafford

An upper-body injury sidelined Brian Gionta 13 games. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Instead of jetting to a tropical locale during the NHL All-Star break, Sabres coach Ted Nolan went home to Northern Ontario to relax a bit and clear his mind.

“Guys go to beaches,” Nolan said Monday afternoon, “I go to snow and shovel my deck off and enjoy the family and friends.”

The Sabres, losers of a franchise-record 11 straight games in regulation entering tonight’s tilt in Calgary, sorely needed some extended time away from hockey. So with their last …

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Philadelphia's R.J. Umberger deflects the puck past Sabres goalie Michal Neuvirth on Saturday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – If you’re a glass-is-half-full type, the Sabres did some good things in Saturday’s 4-3 defeat to a weak Philadelphia Flyers team, their 10th consecutive regulation loss.

For the first time in weeks, the Sabres started strongly and showcased a better effort early, taking the lead and dictating much of the play. When the Flyers went up 2-1, they tied it late in the second period. They even scored three goals for the first time in 10 games.

If you’re a …

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Ted Nolan's Sabres have lost nine straight games. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Sabres have lost a franchise-record nine consecutive games and 31 of 45 overall this trying season. They rank 29th in a 30-team league and dead last or close to the bottom in every major statistical category. They just lost 7-0 to a reeling Minnesota Wild team, their worst home defeat since 1977.

Of course, the Sabres, who host the Philadelphia Flyers tonight, were supposed to lose this season. But was the rebuilding club supposed to lose so badly …

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Ted Nolan knows the Sabres are too soft. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Sabres have lost a franchise-record nine consecutive games and 31 of 45 this season. They rank 29th overall and dead last or close to the bottom in every major statistical category. They just lost 7-0 to a reeling Minnesota Wild team, their worst home defeat since 1977.

Of course, the Sabres were supposed to lose this season. But was the rebuilding club supposed to lose so badly this often? Opponents have outscored them 39-9 during their skid.

Very few …

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Tim Schaller played twice during his recall this week. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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Winger Drew Stafford returned to the Sabres today following the birth of his son, so Buffalo sent center Tim Schaller back to the Rochester Americans.

Schaller played two games during his most recent recall and has one goal in six NHL appearances this season. He has 10 goals and 23 points in 34 games with the AHL Amerks.

Stafford missed two games.

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Michal Neuvirth will receive a rare start tonight. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – As injuries recently weakened his defense corps, Sabres coach Ted Nolan spread out the wealth a bit, breaking up Rasmus Ristolainen, 20, and Nikita Zadorov, 19, arguably his best tandem.

“Our defense corps was a little bit in disarray for a while, and those two were probably our two shining lights,” Nolan said this morning inside the First Niagara Center.

The struggling Sabres desperately need another strong defense pair, so with Ristolainen back from the flu, the youngsters will be …

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Jhonas Enroth has allowed 30 goals in his last eight starts. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Jhonas Enroth, the quiet, mild-mannered Sabres goalie, finally lost his cool Wednesday.

Following Tampa Bay’s final goal late in Sabres’ 5-1 loss, the diminutive Swede angrily whacked the left post with his stick like he was chopping down a tree. When the final horn ended the Sabres’ sixth loss in seven games, Enroth heaved his stick and skated off.

Minutes later, he was visibly upset in the dressing room.

In the Sabres’ 5-2 loss Monday in Ottawa, Enroth was irked and …

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Rasmus Ristolainen has missed two games. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – While the top line remained intact, Sabres coach Ted Nolan rearranged his other three trios today, an attempt to jumpstart the struggling team.

The new lines, left to right: Brian Flynn beside Mikhail Grigorenko and Chris Stewart; Cody Hodgson with Cody McCormick and Drew Stafford; Nick Deslauriers beside Johan Larsson and Patrick Kaleta.

Injuries and illness have ravaged the Sabres recently. They haven’t had a second line with Marcus Foligno and Brian Gionta sidelined.

“If you looked at our last seven …

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Nick Deslauriers started Saturday's rally. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Give ‘em a nickname. The “Cardiac Sabres” sounds appropriate. Or perhaps the “Comeback Kids” is a little better? These days, no lead is safe inside the First Niagara Center, the site of a several stirring, late-game comebacks by the Sabres in recent weeks.

The Sabres roared back again Saturday, scoring three goals on four shots during a wild five minutes to erase a 3-0 deficit against the upstart New York Islanders.

“It just goes to show you the type of …

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Mikhail Grigorenko played his second NHL game this season Saturday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Mikhail Grigorenko knew the Sabres were short one forward and had the Colorado Avalanche, a team led by Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy, his former junior coach, coming up on the schedule.

Grigorenko, who played in Tuesday’s 5-1 loss in Winnipeg before going back to Rochester, wanted to get recalled again badly. To his relief, the Sabres summoned the Russian again Saturday morning.

“I was hoping I would get called up, especially that game against Colorado against Patrick,” Grigorenko …

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