Rasmus Ristolainen (55) tries to keep the puck away from Montreal’s Phillip Danault on Thursday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres believe they can rely on entire defense

BUFFALO – Technically, the Sabres’ defense pairs are numbered.

Rasmus Ristolainen and his partner, Josh Gorges or Dmitry Kulikov, form the top tandem. Zach Bogosian and Jake McCabe are No. 2. Cody Franson and Casey Nelson skated as the third opening night.

On paper, the defense (average age: 27) has the makings of a solid group. Still, the Sabres don’t have an elite pair. Sure, Ristolainen is the undisputed No. 1. But on a ... Read the full article

Cody Franson suffered a season-ending injury Feb. 19. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres need more defense depth

How remarkably healthy did the Buffalo blue line stay in 2015-16? The Sabres recalled a defenseman as an injury replacement just once.

Think about that. Over the course of the grueling six-month, 82-game season, the Sabres only dipped into the AHL on March 18, when they summoned Chad Ruhwedel to sub for Carlo Colaiacovo prior to their 72nd contest. Ruhwedel played that night and was quickly returned to the Rochester Americans.

The Sabres almost ... Read the full article

Zach Bogosian (47) showcased some speed Saturday afternoon against Detroit. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ defense corps much improved

BUFFALO – When Mark Pysyk returns from his broken foot later this week, the Sabres will receive a smooth, puck-moving defenseman and have what coach Dan Bylsma believes is a good problem.

Assuming no one else gets injured before Pysyk plays his first game since Nov. 17, the Sabres, who have used the same six defensemen the last 11 games, will have eight on the roster, “not a good number to have,” Bylsma said.

Still, ... Read the full article

Andrej Sekera might get snatched up early in free agency. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres might have short want list in free agency

BUFFALO – For a rebuilding team fresh off two consecutive 30th-place finishes, the Sabres’ shopping list entering free agency, which opens today at noon, is relatively small. A weekend of wheeling and dealing at the NHL Draft pretty much set the roster for the upcoming season.

The Sabres have two goalies, four forward lines and almost a full defense corps. Not bad for a team that finished 2014-15 using a patchwork lineup filled ... Read the full article

T.J. Brennan played 21 games with the Sabres. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Former Sabres prospect T.J. Brennan back in NHL after long journey

BUFFALO – In the beginning, former Sabres prospect T.J. Brennan followed a normal path to the NHL. The high-scoring defenseman developed four seasons in the AHL before briefly cracking the Sabres two years ago.

Back then, Brennan, who grew up in New Jersey playing lacrosse, didn’t fully understand what it took to make the NHL.

“I’ve always been kind of learn as I go,” Brennan said Wednesday prior to the Sabres’ 4-3 win against the ... Read the full article

Andrej Meszaros has four goals in two games. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Ted Nolan on Andrej Meszaros’ early struggles: ‘Maybe he didn’t work hard enough’

BUFFALO – Andrej Meszaros’ revival started weeks ago, before the Sabres defenseman scored two goals in consecutive games during a three-day stretch.

After months of awful play, the 29-year-old Slovak started showcasing some of his old form, moving around the ice, utilizing his heavy shot and making fans wonder where that play has been all season.

Meszaros struggled from the get-go after signing a one-year, $4.125 million deal July 1.

Why did the former ... Read the full article

Sabres goalie Anders Lindback tries to stop New Jersey’s Steve Bernier (18) with Andre Benoit’s (61) help March 20. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres could still finish 29th, lose guarantee of elite prospect

BUFFALO – Just like that, 29th place – a precarious spot that wouldn’t guarantee the Sabres either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, the mega-draft prospects they covet – is back in play.

Sorry, fans, the race isn’t over yet. The Sabres’ 4-1 victory Monday in Arizona moved them to within four points of the Coyotes, who looked awful throughout the night.

The 30th-place Sabres also have a game in hand, so ... Read the full article

Marcus Foligno was playing some of his best hockey ever in December. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Lots has gone wrong for Sabres in awful season

BUFFALO – Given the Sabres’ sorry state these days, it’s almost difficult to remember now. But for a brief stretch earlier this season, they morphed into a young team on the rise, winning a string of exciting games in dramatic fashion.

The rebuilding club triumphed 10 times in 13 games – they have only 20 victories in 75 outings all season – during a rollicking run in November and December, roaring back night after night.... Read the full article

Mikhail Grigorenko has one goal and two points in 13 games this season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres recall Mikhail Grigorenko, send Tim Schaller and Chad Ruhwedel to Amerks

BUFFALO – The Sabres recalled center Mikhail Grigorenko from Rochester this afternoon and sent center Tim Schaller and defenseman Chad Ruhwedel down.

Grigorenko’s sixth recall this season is another opportunity for the 20-year-old to prove he belongs in the NHL. So far, the Russian, the No. 12 pick in 2012, has compiled only one goal and two points in 13 outings this season.

The Sabres host the New Jersey Devils tonight at the First Niagara ... Read the full article

Tyler Ennis (63) skates by Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon earlier this season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Ted Nolan on Sabres’ Tyler Ennis: ‘The sky’s the limit’

BUFFALO – On an anemic team about to break its own dubious record for fewest goals scored in modern NHL history, slick Sabres winger Tyler Ennis has 18 goals.

The 25-year-old scored 21 times last season, when the Sabres scored only 150 goals. They have 126 goals through 70 games this season, a pathetic 148-score pace.

Through all the turmoil, through all the losses, Ennis has remained a consistent offensive threat with neophytes feeding him ... Read the full article