Eichel’s coming to town

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Sam Reinhart made his AHL debut Friday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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ROCHESTER – It wasn’t easy for Sam Reinhart to change his style. After all, the slick Buffalo Sabres prospect spent three seasons dominating junior hockey as an elite scorer.

“It’s hard in junior to force yourself to play the way you’re going to need to in the AHL and NHL,” Reinhart said Friday following his AHL debut with the Rochester Americans.

But Reinhart’s nine-game NHL trial in October taught the 19-year-old center some valuable lessons about succeeding in the professional game.

“You kind …

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Patrick Kaleta had another injury-filled season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – Following the end of another injury-filled season in which he played only 42 games, Sabres winger Patrick Kaleta received some good news.

“I passed my physical for the first time in five years, so that was a positive this morning,” Kaleta said Sunday as the Sabres cleaned out their lockers inside the First Niagara Center.

That’s how banged up the passionate Kaleta has been over the years.

This season, a year after tearing his ACL, the Angola native broke his face …

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New Jersey's Steve Bernier (18) celebrates with Scott Gomez on Friday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – During a 17-game run with the Sabres late in 2007-08, Steve Bernier mustered only three goals, two of which he scored in his first game. The winger mostly disappeared after that, and he was quietly traded to Vancouver months later.

Mention Bernier’s name around some Sabres fans, and inevitably someone will bring up his rollicking debut.

Now, after Bernier’s two-goal performance Friday in the New Jersey Devils’ 3-1 win against the Sabres, the 29-year-old might have a new claim to …

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Sabres goalie Anders Lindback gloves a shot Monday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – After getting throttled nine days earlier in Washington, the Sabres wanted another crack at the Capitals oh-so badly. The blowout loss left the rebuilding club bitter.

“It was a stinker last time we were in Washington,” winger Tyler Ennis said Monday following the Sabres’ entertaining and spirited 4-3 shootout loss. “They had their No. 1 unit out when it was 5-1, and they scored to make it 6-1 and celebrated pretty hard.”

The Sabres matched the Capitals for 65 minutes …

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Matt Moulson has only 10 goals this season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – There’s a common theory why Sabres winger Matt Moulson has struggled offensively for the last two seasons. The three-time 30-goal scorer needs an elite center feeding him the puck regularly to be productive. Without one, the 31-year-old’s pretty average.

To wit: Moulson averaged 32 goals and 57 points on the left wing beside New York Islanders superstar John Tavares over three full seasons. Moulson scored 15 goals and 44 points in 47 games two years ago and had six …

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Johan Larsson (left) chats with assistant coach Bryan Trottier earlier this month. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

TORONTO – Johan Larsson’s new assignment really hit him when he lined up for a faceoff Saturday against Washington Capitals star Nicklas Backstrom, the NHL’s best playmaker and a fellow Swede.

Larsson, the Buffalo Sabres’ new No. 1 center, has only three goals and 11 points in 53 NHL games. After scoring a goal and two assists in Wednesday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Maple Leafs – his first-ever three-point outing – the 22-year-old has seven points this season.

Backstrom, a former …

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Mikhail Grigorenko's has played 13 NHL games this season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
4

BUFFALO – Don’t count on seeing Mikhail Grigorenko with the Sabres again this season. Heck, the enigmatic Russian center could be finished here less than three years after getting drafted 12th overall.

Grigorenko’s latest recall lasted one game, Friday’s 3-2 loss in Ottawa. The 20-year-old skated a couple of shifts on the second line before getting demoted to the fourth line. He was sent back down the next morning.

“I didn’t like his play,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said bluntly Monday following …

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Mikhail Grigorenko's recall lasted one game. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Don’t count on seeing Mikhail Grigorenko with the Sabres again this season. Heck, the enigmatic Russian center could be finished here less than three years after getting drafted 12th overall.

Grigorenko’s latest recall lasted one game, Friday’s 3-2 loss in Ottawa. The 20-year-old skated a couple of shifts on the second line before getting demoted to the fourth line. He was sent back down the next morning.

“I didn’t like his play,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said bluntly this afternoon …

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Mikhail Grigorenko has spent most of this season in Rochester. ©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.

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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