The Eichel Era

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Ullmark

Linus Ullmark knows he must improve to be a No. 1 NHL goalie. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

ROCHESTER – Ten minutes after his occasionally suspect 20-save outing ended Wednesday, goalie Linus Ullmark was his normal loquacious self, joking and laughing with a familiar face following the Americans’ entertaining 6-5 overtime win.

Ullmark’s third appearance since the Buffalo Sabres sent him to their AHL affiliate earlier this month was perhaps his toughest game in what has mostly been an impressive rookie season. His teammates frequently abandoned him, leaving Syracuse Crunch players open for third and fourth opportunities.

Still, the 6-foot-4, …

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Jamie McGinn (88) has been perhaps the Sabres' biggest surprise. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Don’t let four impressive wins in the last six games fool you. The Sabres still rank last in the Atlantic Division and 29th in the 30-team NHL.

Yes, they’ve improved greatly this season. Still, they’re 11 points out of the Eastern Conference’s last wild card spot entering tonight’s home tilt against the Detroit Red Wings inside the First Niagara Center.

The Sabres are going to miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year, meaning they’ll almost certainly be sellers before …

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Robin Lehner has played one game for the Sabres. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – During some tough days over the last three months, as Robin Lehner recovered and rehabbed from the injury he suffered opening night, the goalie leaned on his family and friends for support.

Lehner just endured an arduous 11 months, suffering a season-ending concussion last year with Ottawa and a high right ankle sprain Oct. 8, only 28 minutes into his debut as the Sabres’ new starter.

The Swede had never experienced a major injury before.

“It’s been hard, you know?” Lehner …

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Linus Ullmark played 19 games with the Sabres. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Eleven months ago when Sabres goalie Robin Lehner suffered a season-ending concussion with Ottawa, Andrew Hammond, his replacement, played so well the Senators deemed the Swede expendable.

Lehner’s first major injury was difficult to come back from, but the 24-year-old, who was acquired for a first-round pick on June 26, returned to be the Sabres’ opening-night starter Oct. 8.

But Lehner suffered a high right ankle sprain just 28 minutes into his debut. Finally, after more than three months on …

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Linus Ullmark won the last two games. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – The Sabres recalled goalie Robin Lehner from his conditioning stint with the Rochester Americans this morning and sent rookie goalie Linus Ullmark to the AHL affiliate.

Lehner, out with a high right ankle sprain since opening night, played three game with Amerks, going 1-2 with a 3.36 goals-against average and a .888 save percentage. The Swede, 24, made his debut as the Sabres’ new starter Oct. 8. He made 35 saves in the Amerks’ 4-0 loss Wednesday in Albany.

Ullmark, …

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Dan Bylsma (right) took over the Sabres' coaching job this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Sabres coach Dan Bylsma noticed almost immediately, way back in September, and it surprised him. Training camp had just started with an overhauled roster – about 10 new faces, in fact – yet his players were already forming close bonds.

“They enjoy being a part of this team and part of this group,” Bylsma said Thursday inside the First Niagara Center. “It has developed. It is a part of what we are. … It is a calling card of …

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Jamie McGinn angles for a shot in front of Florida goalie Roberto Luongo on Tuesday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – In one dressing room, the smiles told the story. After shellacking the reeling Sabres 5-1 on Tuesday, the upstart Florida Panthers confidently celebrated their franchise-record 10th consecutive victory.

“Ten, might as well just keep going and win every game,” said winger Jonathan Huberdeau, one of the Panthers’ young stars.

Yes, the Panthers, the NHL’s perennial laughingstock, have quickly morphed into the league’s hottest team.

Down the hallway inside the First Niagara Center, the Sabres, who seem to lose every game, looked …

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Robin Lehner hasn't played since opening night. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Sabres goalie Robin Lehner and defenseman Mark Pysyk will begin AHL rehab assignments with the Rochester Americans later this week, coach Dan Bylsma said this morning.

The Amerks play three games in three days this weekend, so Lehner might start two of the three. Bylsma also said he would be with the team a week from Wednesday.

Lehner hasn’t played since suffering a high right ankle sprain Oct. 8, opening night. Pysyk, meanwhile, has missed 21 games. The two will …

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Sabres captain Brian Gionta skates away from the New York Islanders' Thomas Hickey on Thursday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Following the Sabres’ 2-1 loss Thursday, center Ryan O’Reilly wasn’t taking any solace in the improved power play they showcased against the New York Islanders.

Sure, the Sabres’ struggling power play got its first goal, an O’Reilly score, in eight games, ending a zero for 24 run. And early on, with rookie center Jack Eichel promoted to the top unit, the Sabres pumped seven shots on goal during their first chance, helping them seize momentum.

Thanks to three early power …

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Robin Lehner has played part of one game this season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Robin Lehner still has no firm timeline for his return to NHL game action. Right now, the Sabres goalie just plans to keep practicing, something he did with his teammates Tuesday for the first time since suffering a high right ankle sprain Oct. 8.

Still, Lehner knows he should be back soon, and that’s a good feeling for the Swede, who has played only 32 minutes since Feb. 16, when he suffered a season-ending concussion with Ottawa.

Just being on …

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