Steve Ott knows the Sabres need help to make the playoffs. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres know a loss to Rangers would likely end playoff hopes

BUFFALO – The Sabres have shattered the widespread belief they would finish a lost season meekly and perhaps contend for a lottery pick instead of making an unlikely run at the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot.

In dealing captain Jason Pominville and two other respected veterans for draft picks and prospects prior to the April 3 trade deadline, general manager Darcy Regier openly talked about the future and shifting the focus to next season.

The ... Read the full article

Steve Ott knows the Sabres need help to make the playoffs. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres will be cheering for Panthers

AMHERST – For one night at least, the Sabres will become huge Florida Panthers fans.

“Absolutely,” winger Steve Ott said following the 10th-place Sabres’ short practice inside the Northtown Center. “We need help. With (teams ahead) having games in hand, we definitely need help.”

The NHL’s worst club faces the eighth-place Rangers tonight in New York, a tilt the Sabres desperately need the Blue Shirts to lose in regulation.

“Any opponent that’s playing ... Read the full article

Some key goals from Kevin Porter (12) have helped the Sabres recently. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Third straight win puts Sabres in thick of playoff chase

It’s still a long shot, Sabres fans. But Wednesday’s dramatic 3-2 shootout win in Boston moved the 10th-place club to within two points of the eighth-place New York Rangers for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot.

Conveniently, the Rangers come to Buffalo on Friday for a must-see showdown.

Show of hands … who thought the Sabres would still be in the postseason picture a week after their wretched 5-1 home loss to ... Read the full article

Jhonas Enroth was locked in Tuesday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Jhonas Enroth, Marcus Foligno help push Sabres past Rangers

BUFFALO – At various points last season, youngsters Jhonas Enroth and Marcus Foligno represented the Sabres’ oh-so-bright future.

Enroth, the rookie goalie that couldn’t lose early on, would someday be the franchise’s regular netminder. Foligno roared into the NHL later in the campaign, instantly becoming a premier power forward.

But they had provided little to the Sabres this lost season prior to their difference-making performances in Tuesday’s 3-1 triumph over the New York Rangers.

Enroth ... Read the full article

Martin Biron has become one of the NHL’s best backup goalies. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Former Sabres goalie Martin Biron thriving as Rangers’ backup

BUFFALO – When the 113-day NHL lockout ended and Martin Biron left his East Aurora home for his backup goaltending gig in New York, the 35-year-old’s wife and four children stayed behind.

With a shortened season, a new house and the school year in full swing, the loquacious former Sabre didn’t want to uproot his family.

For now, Biron’s living alone in New York, an arrangement that has worked out “OK.”

“There’s times I’m sitting ... Read the full article

Brad Richards has played twice since Patrick Kaleta hit him. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Rangers’ Brad Richards on Patrick Kaleta hit: ‘It’s over and done with’

BUFFALO – Don’t expect huge fireworks tonight in the wake of Patrick Kaleta’s scary hit from behind on Rangers star Brad Richards last Sunday in New York.

Kaleta’s still on the sidelines, only four contests into his five-game ban. The Rangers may want to punish the Sabres’ agitator when they visit the First Niagara Center again April 19.

Besides, the eighth-place Rangers, a big disappointment this season, need to concentrate on winning a game.

Richards, ... Read the full article

Jhonas Enroth was on the ice this morning. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Miller’s sinus infection will give Sabres’ Enroth start tonight; Leopold back in

BUFFALO – A sinus infection will relegate franchise goalie Ryan Miller to backup duty tonight behind Jhonas Enroth against the New York Rangers.

Miller occasionally skips morning skates, so when he wasn’t on the ice today inside the First Niagara Center, it hardly seemed like a big deal.

But interim Sabres coach Ron Rolston said following the skate Enroth would start for the second time in three games. The 24-year-old only received three nods in ... Read the full article

Ville Leino struggled last season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Leino looking for chance to show his worth to Sabres

BUFFALO – Last season, in the first year of a six-year, $27 million contract, Ville Leino bombed. For a cool $6 million, the Sabres received eight goals and 25 points in 71 games, paying out $240,000 a point.

The Sabres initially tried converting Leino into a center again, an experiment that failed miserably. Leino was back on the wing after just a few weeks, generating little as a third- or fourth-liner.

Before the season ended, ... Read the full article

Tyler Ennis left Sunday’s game early. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Ennis ‘dinged up’ from Simmonds hit, not concussed

BUFFALO – Tyler Ennis, whose face was crunched into the boards by Wayne Simmonds 15:48 into the Sabres’ 3-2 loss Sunday in Philadelphia, missed practice Monday and is day-to-day, interim coach Ron Rolston said.

“He’s a little dinged up,” Rolston said after the Sabres prepared for tonight’s contest against the New York Rangers inside the First Niagara Center.

Ennis, who left the game, didn’t suffer a concussion, Rolston said. The slick center received some stitches ... Read the full article

Patrick Kaleta had been suspended twice prior to Monday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Despite ‘changed’ style, Sabres’ Kaleta banned 5 games for boarding Richards

BUFFALO – Patrick Kaleta insists he has changed his game over the years, calming his ultra-aggressive style down to become a more complete and responsible player.

Players have noticed, he said. Referees have even lauded the Sabres’ top agitator.

“The referees have came up and said, ‘Hey, we respect what you’ve done so far. As long as you keep showing respect toward us, then we’ll respect you,’” Kaleta told reporters Monday in Raleigh before the ... Read the full article