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Vancouver Canucks

The Sabres' Torrey Mitchell splits the Vancouver defense Thursday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Of course, the Sabres’ best stretch in two months could end soon. The trade deadline is three days away. The rebuilding club will almost certainly deal some of its top assets.

If Thursday’s 6-3 win against the Vancouver Canucks was the final game for a few players, they gave the Sabres one heck of a goodbye before a capacity crowd of 19,070 fans inside the First Niagara Center.

Consider the exploits of these players with expiring contracts in the Sabres’ …

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Adam Clendening played his first NHL game in Buffalo on Thursday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Adam Clendening’s first experience playing here about 12 years ago is still vivid. The Wheatfield native remembers gazing around and soaking up the atmosphere during a Buffalo Regals youth hockey game hours before the Sabres hit the ice.

“That was definitely pretty surreal,” Clendening said Thursday prior to the Vancouver Canucks’ 6-3 loss to the Sabres, his first NHL game at the First Niagara Center.

Clendening used to be the little kid on the glass watching his favorite players up …

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Zemgus Girgensons blocked a shot Tuesday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
3

BUFFALO – Top Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons, who blocked a shot with his right ankle Tuesday, will play again this season, coach Ted Nolan said this morning.

Nolan hinted Girgensons could be finished after James Wisniewski’s shot hit the Latvian halfway through the 4-2 win in Columbus.

“It’s bad but not as bad as we thought,” Nolan said inside the First Niagara Center.

Nolan wouldn’t say if Girgensons’ ankle was broken.

“It could be, but it still could be healed in two weeks,” he …

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Alex Biega made his NHL debut Feb. 16. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Alex Biega had finally cracked an NHL roster. For 10 days in December, the defenseman earned a fatter paycheck and practiced with the Vancouver Canucks.

But, oddly enough, the 26-year-old former Sabres prospect never played. He got tantalizingly close to game action once, dressing for the pregame warm-up.

“It wasn’t frustrating, but I guess I was antsy just to get in,” Biega said by phone Wednesday after the Canucks landed in Buffalo. “I wanted to get that opportunity to play. …

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Cody Hodgson has two goals this season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

Struggling Buffalo Sabres center Cody Hodgson is a scratch for tonight’s game in Vancouver against the Canucks, his former team.

Ouch.

Hodgson might be enduring the worst season of any NHL forward. Seriously.

The 24-year-old has two goals, seven points and minus-21 rating in 48 games. He has one point in his last 14 games and one goal in his last 39 contests.

Coach Ted Nolan scratched Hodgson for the first time in his Sabres career Dec. 13. Nolan’s patience has clearly run out. …

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Ryan Miller was once the face of the Sabres. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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For Ryan Miller, tonight’s game in Vancouver will be a special experience. The Canucks’ starting goalie hasn’t played against Buffalo since the Sabres traded the franchise cornerstone 11 months ago.

“I mean, it’s going to be a little bit strange,” Miller told reporters Thursday in Vancouver. “I’ll pay special attention not to pass the puck toward the Buffalo symbol. It’s going to be nice to see some of the faces that were there, but part of hockey is having fun competing …

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Brian Flynn skates Thursday with Vancouver's David Booth in pursuit. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

BUFFALO – Nine games into what is quickly becoming the worst season in the Sabres’ 43-year history, the hapless team appears finished.

In Thursday’s feeble 3-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, the Sabres (1-7-1) showcased more of what makes them arguably the NHL’s worst team: terrible starts, a porous defense and no goal scoring.

So much for building on Tuesday’s 4-3 shootout triumph over the Islanders, the Sabres’ only win this season.

Where’s their frustration level?

“It’s high. It’s no fun,” Sabres co-captain Thomas …

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Cody McCormick skates Thursday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Their paths never crossed last season. Hours before the Sabres promoted Ron Rolston from Rochester on Feb. 20, they waived Cody McCormick. As Rolston was starting his NHL career the next day, the gritty forward was beginning his first AHL stint since 2010.

But McCormick’s 28-game stay in Rochester didn’t signal the end of his Sabres career. In the summer, general manager Darcy Regier said the 30-year-old likely wouldn’t clear waivers again.

McCormick would either stick with the Sabres or …

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Zemgus Girgensons practices this morning. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – About 16 media members, most of them from Vancouver, surrounded Sabres center Cody Hodgson this morning.

The Canucks, of course, traded Hodgson on Feb. 27, 2012 amid speculation his relationship with the team had soured, he wanted more playing time and his father had become too involved in his hockey affairs.

Naturally, Hodgson didn’t want to talk about any of that.

“I’m happy to be here for the next six years,” Hodgson, who signed a $25.5 million extension last month, politely …

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Zack Kassian spent time with Rochester in 2011-12. ©2013, Michelene Veluvolu, Rochester Americans
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Twenty months later, there’s no decisive winner in the Cody Hodgson-Zack Kassian deal, the shocker the Sabres and Vancouver Canucks pulled off before the 2012 NHL trade deadline.

Teams rarely swap high first-round picks during their rookie seasons. So the debate might go on for years in the two hockey-mad cities.

“That’s hockey,” Kassian, who will play his first game back in Buffalo tonight at the First Niagara Center, told the Vancouver Province. “People need to talk about something. So …

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