Welcome back, Jack

Jack Eichel has gotten off to a scorching start. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – It was Sunday morning, more than two days before center Jack Eichel finally returned from his 21-game absence, when coach Dan Bylsma first noticed a change in his Sabres, owners of the NHL’s worst offense.

Thanks to Eichel’s presence in practice, Bylsma said he saw “confidence and an excitement brewing about us being able to score goals and how we need to play.”

Never mind the Sabres had lost eight of their last 10 games at that point. Never mind …

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Brendan Guhle has impressed the Sabres. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – In a surprising move, the Sabres dipped into junior hockey Friday and recalled Brendan Guhle, their top defense prospect, on an emergency basis to replace the injured Josh Gorges.

Guhle, 19, almost made the Sabres out of training camp the last two years. The 2015 second-round pick will likely make his NHL debut this afternoon against the Boston Bruins inside KeyBank Center.

Gorges blocked a shot in Thursday’s 4-3 win against the New York Rangers, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. …

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Robin Lehner has played 16 games. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Sabres goalie Robin Lehner, sidelined with a sore hip for Thursday’s 4-3 win against the New York Rangers, will start Saturday afternoon’s game against the Boston Bruins, coach Dan Bylsma said.

The Sabres returned goalie Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans earlier today.

Lehner was hurt early in Tuesday’s 5-4 win in Ottawa. Backup Anders Nilsson subbed for him Thursday.

In other news, defenseman Josh Gorges is questionable for the Bruins after blocking a shot Thursday. Gorges tested the injury early …

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Jack Eichel celebrates a goal Thursday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – For the first time this season, energy filled the KeyBank Center all night. Jack Eichel, the Sabres’ dynamic young star, was making his long-awaited home debut Thursday, and the normally quiet building buzzed with excitement.

Eichel couldn’t generate much early against the New York Rangers. The second-year center had some skate issues, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said.

But by the second period, it looked like Eichel might bust loose.

“He showed some dynamic play and showed how he could take over …

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Adam Clendening returned to the lineup Thursday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – There are, of course, good and bad things about the nomadic hockey life Adam Clendening has experienced for three seasons, the New York Rangers defenseman said.

On one hand, the Wheatfield native has seen six NHL cities and met hundreds of teammates. On the other hand, five years into his pro career, Clendening, 24, has never lasted longer than 20 games in one spot.

“You always want to find a home and be able to play every night,” Clendening, who …

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Jimmy Vesey played four years in the NCAA. ©2016, Gil Talbot, Harvard Athletics
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – New York Rangers rookie Jimmy Vesey isn’t sure how Sabres fans will react to him tonight.

“I’m not really worried about that,” Vesey said this afternoon inside KeyBank Center. “At the end of the day, I made one decision. It might’ve (ticked) some people off. It was never my intention.”

That decision, of course, was to pass on the signing with the Sabres, who acquired his rights June 20, and become an unrestricted free agent.

Most NCAA players – Vesey played …

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Adam Clendening (44) skates against the Sabres and Matt Moulson Feb. 26, 2015 as a member of Vancouver. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – There are, of course, good and bad things about the nomadic hockey life Adam Clendening has experienced for three seasons, the New York Rangers defenseman said.

On one hand, the Wheatfield native has seen six NHL cities and met hundreds of teammates. On the other hand, five years into his pro career, Clendening, 24, has never lasted longer than 20 games in one spot.

“You always want to find a home and be able to play every night,” Clendening, who …

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Robin Lehner was hurt Tuesday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Late in the morning skate, Sabres goalie Robin Lehner, who’s nursing a sore hip and questionable to even dress for tonight’s game, left the ice first.

Did it mean he was ready to play? The first goalie off almost always starts.

No. The Sabres still aren’t sure if Lehner will back up goalie Anders Nilsson tonight against the New York Rangers.

“It feels 90 percent, it’s a little stiff still,” Lehner said inside KeyBank Center. “But, yeah, it feels good.”

Sabres coach …

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Ryan O'Reilly also briefly lost his helmet Nov. 21. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – In his eight-year NHL career, Ryan O’Reilly has scored 117 times, so the Sabres center has about every type of goal on his impressive resume.

But after O’Reilly recently lost his helmet in the thick of the action and nearly scored, he started thinking – or, perhaps more appropriately, daydreaming – about getting a goal and celebrating without, as hockey players say, his “bucket.”

“We talked about this like two weeks ago,” O’Reilly told the Times Herald on Tuesday in …

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Robin Lehner could dress Thursday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Sabres goalie Robin Lehner, who left Tuesday’s 5-4 win in Ottawa after injuring his hip in the first period, is still day-to-day, coach Dan Bylsma.

“He’s lobbying to back up tomorrow,” Bylsma said this afternoon inside KeyBank Center. “He’s going to see how it is in the morning.”

Lehner was injured on the Senators’ first goal. The Swede stayed in the game, but his hip cramped up when he stepped out to play a puck a few minutes later, Bylsma …

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