Jochen Hecht was a favorite of former coach Lindy Ruff. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Hecht’s benching related to Sabres’ personnel, not play

BUFFALO – Hours before scratching Jochen Hecht on Thursday, Ron Rolston praised the veteran’s play. Following practice a day later, the Sabres’ interim coach complimented the 35-year-old forward again.

So why did Rolston make Hecht, the Sabres’ longest-tenured player, a healthy scratch for the first time in his 10 seasons here?

“We had a lot of scenarios going on with players,” Rolston explained Friday after the Sabres practiced inside Cazenovia Ice Rink. “We have ... Read the full article

Jochen Hecht had enjoyed a regular spot in the lineup since 2002. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Hecht benched so Sabres could add toughness

BUFFALO – Hours before scratching Jochen Hecht on Thursday, Ron Rolston praised the veteran’s play. Following practice this afternoon, the Sabres’ interim coach complimented the 35-year-old forward again.

So why did Rolston make Hecht, the Sabres’ longest-tenured player, a healthy scratch for the first time in his 10 seasons here?

“We had a lot of scenarios going on with players,” Rolston explained after the Sabres practiced inside Cazenovia Ice Rink. “We have a lot ... Read the full article

Ville Leino hopes to make his season debut soon. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Leino hopes to return next week; Leopold and Sekera also close to playing

BUFFALO – After practice ended this afternoon inside Cazenovia Ice Rink, Sabres winger Ville Leino and some teammates stayed out and went through a series of rough battles drills with assistant coach James Patrick.

A few weeks ago, as Leino’s injured right hip made little progress, the Finn’s season appeared in jeopardy. He skated alone briefly if he skated at all.

But Leino’s hip has responded well to new treatments recently. He’s practicing fully and ... Read the full article

Pavel Datsyuk and the Detroit Red Wings will now be visiting Buffalo regularly. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

NHLPA consents to realignment; Sabres in new division with Red Wings

BUFFALO – The NHL Players’ Association consented to the NHL’s realignment plan this afternoon, meaning the league will use a four-division format next season.

The Sabres will play in a new Eastern Conference division featuring four Northeast Division holdovers – the Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs – and three newcomers – the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Western Conference transfer Detroit Red Wings – pending the approval of the ... Read the full article

Jhonas Enroth has played three times this season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Enroth’s start could decide future with Sabres

Jhonas Enroth probably doesn’t have to win tonight in New Jersey to save his job. No, if the backup goalie simply plays well and gives the Buffalo Sabres a chance to triumph against the Devils, then he should get another nod at some point.

Of course, winning his first game since Nov. 26, 2011 wouldn’t hurt. Early last season, Enroth couldn’t lose. Fans wanted the 24-year-old Swede playing instead of franchise netminder Ryan Miller.

As ... Read the full article

Jochen Hecht joined the Sabres in 2002. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

With Rolston in charge, Hecht’s long Sabres tenure could be ending

Judge him differently, his supporters said. Sure, Jochen Hecht’s no longer a 20-goal, 45-point player. But the 35-year-old forward’s a veteran asset. He’s a good guy in the room and can still contribute something on the ice.

No way, the detractors said. The German was declining before he suffered three concussions in a 10-month span. The Buffalo Sabres shouldn’t have re-signed him in January. The move shows they can’t move on from the ... Read the full article

The frustration has often been visible on Ryan Miller's face this season ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Halfway through disappointing season, Sabres’ playoff chances slim

BUFFALO – Forget about merely making the playoffs. Forty-six days ago, a long postseason run felt like a real possibility following the Sabres’ season-opening 5-2 home victory over Philadelphia.

The next day, a 2-1 road triumph in Toronto only strengthened the belief the veteran club could be an Eastern Conference heavyweight.

The Sabres possessed offensive firepower, a deep defense corps, unyielding muscle and a franchise goalie, right?

Well …

The 13th-place Sabres ... Read the full article

Cody Hodgson has been one of the Sabres' few bright spots this season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Hodgson’s dynamic goal proves how badly he wants to be Sabres’ top center

Finding positives in the Buffalo Sabres’ lost season is difficult.

Injuries and the law of averages have cooled off slick winger Thomas Vanek. The defense has performed so horrifically around goalie Ryan Miller it’s hard to realize he could be playing as well as ever.

Then there’s Cody Hodgson.

Yes, he’s still very raw defensively. But Hodgson has 10 goals and 21 points in 24 games, strong numbers that only rank behind Vanek’s 12 ... Read the full article

T.J. Brennan has been a healthy scratch frequently this season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres rookie Brennan gets another chance to shine

In seven NHL games this season, Buffalo Sabres defenseman T.J. Brennan has zero points and 14 shots on goal (how many have missed the net?) while averaging 14:11 on the ice each appearance.

After scoring 14 goals and 35 points in 36 games with Rochester this season, Brennan has underwhelmed mightily.

If the 23-year-old didn’t have to clear waivers, he likely would’ve been returned to the AHL. Instead, rather than risk losing him, the Sabres ... Read the full article

Justin Peters hasn't played an NHL game this season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres can exploit Hurricanes backup Peters

Meet Justin Peters, the Hurricanes’ third string goalie and the starter tonight against the Buffalo Sabres in Carolina.

In one previous appearance against the Sabres on March 21, 2010, he allowed four goals on 14 shots before mercifully getting yanked from his eighth NHL start, a 5-3 Buffalo win in Carolina.

Peters’ career numbers against the Sabres: an awful 8.36 goals against average and a .714 save percentage in 29 minutes.

Of course, injuries ... Read the full article