18 games left

Archive:
Varone

Mikhail Grigorenko has spent most of this season in Rochester. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – For once, center Mikhail Grigorenko can relax a little bit. Eighteen games are left in the Sabres’ trying season. The NHL’s weakest lineup needs reinforcements.

Sabres coach Ted Nolan wouldn’t commit to Grigorenko staying for the rest of the year. But the Russian should get a long look after getting recalled from Rochester again Thursday.

This could be Grigorenko’s best opportunity since his rookie season two years ago.

Grigorenko, the 12th pick in 2012, was excited when he spotted a white …

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Mikhail Grigorenko recently returned from a knee injury. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – For once, center Mikhail Grigorenko can relax a little bit. Eighteen games are left in the Sabres’ trying season. The NHL’s weakest lineup needs reinforcements.

Grigorenko, the 12th pick in 2012, should get a long look after getting recalled from Rochester again this morning.

The Russian was excited when he saw a white practice jersey hanging in his locker today. That meant he would be centering the second line beside Marcus Foligno and captain Brian Gionta.

“I think it’s a really …

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Phil Varone skates Wednesday inside HarborCenter. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Prior to Phil Varone’s 19th NHL game Tuesday, the Sabres center couldn’t find his No. 84 written on the board with the team’s new line combinations.

The 24-year-old looked again and found it an unexpected spot.

“I didn’t see it at the top,” Varone said Wednesday following practice inside HarborCenter. “It was pretty surreal, obviously. I was in the AHL three weeks ago. It’s just pretty special.”

Yes, Varone, who has three goals and four points in his short career, is …

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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
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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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The Sabres recalled Matt Ellis last month. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Matt Ellis considers himself a realist. At 33 years old, the center understands the Sabres have younger and more talented players they need to examine.

That’s why the veteran of 330 NHL games spent four months this season mentoring the organization’s AHL prospects in Rochester.

“To be perfectly honest, I enjoyed the role that I played in Rochester,” Ellis said Monday inside the First Niagara Center.

The role was fulfilling. Ellis felt proud when several Sabres prospects realized their dreams. Joel …

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Matt Ellis played four games during his recall. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – The Sabres sent centers Matt Ellis and Phil Varone back to Rochester this morning.

Ellis was pointless in his first four NHL games this season. Varone, meanwhile, had two goals and two points in seven games.

Both are alternate captains for the AHL Americans.

In other news, Sabres prospect Mikhail Grigorenko has been named AHL Player of the Week after scoring three goals and seven points in three games, helping the Amerks rally for two wins.

The 20-year-old center has 10 goals …

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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
0

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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Phil Varone only played sparingly Saturday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – In a deep rebuild, with losses and injuries piling up, plenty of jobs on the Sabres are still available.

Heck, the Sabres have had openings throughout the lineup for two years. Sooner or later, someone – a top prospect, an unknown youngster, a waiver acquisition or a depth veteran – has to step up and grab one, right?

Sabres coach Ted Nolan wants the newcomers do something different, stand out and make a case to stay. So far, no one …

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