The Eichel Era

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Toronto Maple Leafs

Matt Moulson scores the shootout winner on Wednesday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Technically, way back on opening night, Sabres winger Evander Kane experienced the joy of scoring a goal. Of course, it was short-lived.

An offside call negated it, and Kane, who boldly stated last month he wanted to score 40 or 50 times with his new team this season, spent the next five games struggling to get his first.

Kane finally scored that elusive goal late in the Sabres’ 2-1 shootout win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, a game …

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Brad Boyes attended training camp on a tryout. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – At times throughout his uncertain summer, former Sabres forward Brad Boyes said he wondered, “Why is this happening?”

For the second time in three years, Boyes, a former 43-goal scorer, couldn’t find work.

In 2013, after a strong season with the New York Islanders, Boyes, 33, had to earn a spot in Florida on a tryout. He parlayed that into a two-year extension and figured after scoring 35 goals over two seasons, he was safe.

Then on July 1, the Panthers …

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Johan Larsson will play tonight after sitting out last game. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Dan Bylsma said he has heard some, shall we say, interesting stories about being inside the rowdy First Niagara Center for a game between the Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs.

“I’m nervous for some of the fans, from what I hear,” Bylsma said this morning prior to his first regular-season game against the Leafs as Sabres coach.

Tilts between the fierce rivals rarely disappoint, especially here, where blue-collar Toronto fans who can’t attend games at the Air Canada Centre make …

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Sam Reinhart has been a strong presence for the Sabres. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The plays have mostly been subtle, devoid of the flash one might expect from a former second overall pick.

While quietly morphing into one of the Sabres’ top offensive threats, rookie winger Sam Reinhart, 19, has been showcasing the intelligence that makes him a coveted prospect.

Some of Reinhart’s best work – goalie screens and passes that illustrate his supreme vision – almost goes unnoticed.

“No one would ever question his intelligence and his ability to make a play and have …

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Jack Eichel zooms by Toronto's Connor Brown on Tuesday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – In three NHL exhibition appearances, Sabres center Jack Eichel has generated two goals, five points and more excitement than any NHL rookie, even Connor McDavid, his counterpart in Edmonton.

To wit: Eichel, in his home preseason debut Tuesday, scored again in Sabres’ 4-0 shellacking of the Toronto Maple Leafs, his second short-handed breakaway goal.

The 18-year-old Eichel hit full speed in two strides leaving the Buffalo zone and quickly roared by Connor Brown with two more.

“In about half a second, …

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Brendan Guhle will play his fourth preseason game tonight. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Brendan Guhle is no longer the impressive rookie getting a long look before going back to junior. Suddenly, the Sabres defense prospect, the 51st overall pick in June, has a real chance to be on the opening-night roster in nine days.

“Definitely there’s an opportunity,” said Guhle, who will play his fourth preseason game tonight. “There’s some injuries now, whatnot. I’m not looking too far ahead of myself.”

Four notable defensemen – Zach Bogosian, Josh Gorges, Jake McCabe and Chad …

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Johan Larsson finished last season as the Sabres' top center. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Dan Bylsma wanted to count them all first. So before the coach talked about the impressive center depth the Sabres have quickly assembled, he rattled off each one on the roster.

When Bylsma stopped, he had named eight: Ryan O’Reilly, No. 2 overall pick Jack Eichel, Zemgus Girgensons, Johan Larsson, David Legwand, Sam Reinhart and Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno, two wingers with experience down the middle.

“You’re usually fighting to find two or three in an organization,” Bylsma said …

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Cal O'Reilly had never played with his brother, Ryan. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

TORONTO – Growing up about 140 miles away in Goderich, Ont., Buffalo Sabres center Cal O’Reilly witnessed some epic meltdowns when he beat his younger brother, Ryan, in hockey games.

“When he would lose, he would start throwing stuff – sticks and anything he could get his hands on,” Cal O’Reilly said Friday prior to the Sabres’ 6-4 preseason win against the Maple Leafs, the brothers’ first appearance together as teammates at any level of hockey.

Cal eventually wised up.

“If he lost, …

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Dan Catenacci grew up outside Toronto. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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TORONTO – Instead of being in Canada’s largest city for an NHL exhibition game tonight, Buffalo Sabres prospect Brendan Guhle figured he’d likely be playing his first junior game this season about 3,000 kilometers away – hey, check the dateline – in Saskatchewan for the Prince Albert Raiders.

But the defenseman, the 51st pick in June, will play his third straight preseason game tonight against the Maple Leafs inside the Air Canada Centre.

“Good luck to the Raiders,” said Guhle, the only …

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Marcus Foligno has showcased flashes of being a top power forward. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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TORONTO – Like the coaches before him, Dan Bylsma catches glimpes of Marcus Foligno’s potential watching the 6-foot-3, 226-pound Buffalo Sabres winger on tape. But, Bylsma noted, “How often do you have to watch him?”

Coaches could examine weeks of video before finding a single Foligno highlight.

“You watch him skate and you see his size and you see what he can do on the ice,” Bylsma said Thursday after the Sabres prepared for tonight’s exhibition game against the Maple Leafs. “(If) …

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