Best wishes to RJ

Archive:
Stafford

Boston's David Krejci is sandwiched between the Sabres' Tyler Myers (57) and Cody McCormick (8). ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – For about 18 minutes of Thursday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins, it appeared the reeling Sabres would steal a win from a superior opponent.

Yes, the Bruins kept pumping shots on goalie Jhonas Enroth, but the Sabres limited their prime scoring chances. The Sabres’ anemic offense, meanwhile, scored two goals for only the fourth time this season, helping them take a rare lead.

Their first regulation win inside the First Niagara Center since Feb. 28 was within grasp.

Then, …

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Brian Gionta has zero goals this season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The anger was evident throughout the Sabres’ tense 90-minute practice Wednesday inside the First Niagara Center.

At one point, coach Ted Nolan, whose reeling 2-8 team was demolished 4-0 in Toronto hours earlier, yelled, “Wake the (expletive) up!” Players exchanged words and shouted in frustration. Captain Brian Gionta banged his stick on the glass and demolished it on the bench.

Nolan said the “10-game grace period” he gives his team each season has ended.

“You give them a little bit of …

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Cody Hodgson has one goal this season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Make no mistake, Cody Hodgson, the Sabres’ leading scorer last season, is the new right winger on the fourth line beside center Sam Reinhart and Nick Deslauriers.

“Yeah, he’s on the fourth line,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said curtly this afternoon.

Hodgson could be moved to the press box next.

“He’s pretty close there, too,” Nolan said.

Hodgson, like just about every Sabres forward, has struggled this season, compiling one goal, two points and a minus-7 rating in 10 contests.

The 24-year-old said …

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Chris Stewart began his NHL career in 2008-09. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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TORONTO – Incredibly, Tuesday’s 4-0 loss to the Maple Leafs, Chris Stewart’s 392nd NHL game, was his first appearance in his hometown.

Toronto was the only city the 26-year-old Buffalo Sabres winger hadn’t played in.

How did that happen?

Stewart played in the Western Conference with Colorado and St. Louis before the Sabres acquired him in March.

“My first year I got healthy scratched here, and then the lockout year we didn’t play the East, and then the one time I got traded to …

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Drew Stafford has zero goals this season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – The Sabres, the lowest-scoring team in modern NHL history last season, have picked up where they left off in April.

Yes, it’s still early, but the Sabres have scored just seven goals in six games, a paltry 1.17 average. The only team averaging fewer goals a game, the Florida Panthers, beat the Sabres 1-0 on Friday.

Four Sabres have scored this season. Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno and Zemgus Girgensons all have two goals. Torrey Mitchell has one.

That’s it.

The power play …

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Dominik Hasek will become the franchise's seventh retired number. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – The Sabres will retire legend Dominik Hasek’s No. 39 prior to the Jan. 13, 2015 game against the Detroit Red Wings, the team announced Monday.

Hasek, one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, will become the franchise’s seventh retired number.

The opponent holds some significance. Hasek played four seasons in Detroit, winning two Stanley Cups. The Sabres traded Hasek to Detroit in 2001.

The Czech will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 17. The Sabres inducted …

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Florida's Dmitry Kulikov (7) chases the Sabres' Zemgus Girsgensons on Friday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Fresh off their first win this season, against the winless Florida Panthers, the hapless Sabres imploded again early Friday, allowing a team with three goals all season to dominate them.

The Panthers outshot the Sabres 16-3 during a wretched first period. The Sabres finally put their first even-strength shot on goalie Roberto Luongo at about the 16-minute mark.

The Sabres, thanks to Jhonas Enroth’s strong goaltending, escaped the opening 20 minutes tied. But Sean Bergenheim scored 3:01 into the second …

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Brian Gionta talks about being named captain Tuesday. ©2014, Margaret Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – For five years, Josh Gorges watched Brian Gionta closely. Gionta’s Stanley Cup ring offered him instant credibility in the Montreal dressing room. But Gorges quickly learned why Gionta won a championship.

Gorges noticed the professionalism Gionta exhibited, the strong habits that made him a leader and respected captain.

“I’ve said this all along, when you’re a young guy coming into a team … who do you look to in the room and say, ‘This is who I got to follow …

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Sam Reinhart (center) celebrates his first preseason goal with Marcus Foligno (82) and Tyson Strachan (24). ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Seven minutes, 10 seconds into the third period Wednesday, with the Sabres up four goals against the Washington Capitals, top prospect Sam Reinhart finally found some open ice.

Reinhart, by his own admission, had been pressing this preseason. The savvy 18-year-old couldn’t score or even create opportunities, and it gnawed at him. The hockey IQ fans have heard about so much rarely materialized.

But as Wednesday’s contest dragged on, the center got open in the right circle, grabbed a perfect …

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Mikhail Grigorenko skates this morning. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Two weeks into training camp, center Mikhail Grigorenko remains the Sabres’ biggest surprise. Two more impressive outings could earn the Russian prospect a roster spot.

“He’s been looking really good,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said this morning inside the First Niagara Center. “He’s strong on the puck. He’s been making some really good plays. So the biggest thing right now is keep seeing him do it.”

Grigorenko has two more preseason opportunities, tonight against the Washington Capitals and Friday in …

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