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Sports Talk Sunday rewind: Sabres' surge and Syracuse's run

After a series of fill-ins, the old "Sports Talk Sunday" cast was back in its seats to talk about the Buffalo Sabres' winning ways, Syracuse's magical run to the Final Four and Rex Ryan's response to Thurman Thomas.

WGRZ's Adam Benigni returned to lead the fray, while News columnists Bucky Gleason and Jerry Sullivan were both on set. Jonah Javad of Channel 2 joined the group for the second segment to talk college basketball.

Here's a breakdown of five topics covered on the show, which aired originally at 11:30 p.m. April 3 on WGRZ-TV:

1) Sabres hit stride down the stretch: Benigni points out how the Sabres have won six of their last 10, including a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday. Bucky says this stretch is obviously a good sign, and it's something to build from, but "it's amazing what qualifies as a surge these days.

The Sabres' Jack Eichel, left, and Sam Reinhart have brought optimism to a discouraged fan-base. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

The Sabres' Jack Eichel, left, and Sam Reinhart have brought optimism to a discouraged fan-base. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

[Read: Vogl on Dan Bylsma's hopes for a strong finish]

Benigni agrees that the Sabres are trending positively, despite blowing a three-goal lead against Pittsburgh. Sully thinks the organization has some issues to sort through -- like winning at home consistently and the presentation at the First Niagara Center.

[Read the frustrations of Sabres season-ticket holders]

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2) Evaluating Evander Kane and Robin Lehner: With the news that both Sabres will miss the remainder of the season, Benigni asks his co-hosts their thoughts on Kane and Lehner. Bucky says that Lehner's on-ice performance is too small of a sample size for confidence, although he believes the team feeds off his attitude. As for Kane, Bucky thinks the Sabres need more production for the money committed to him.

Robin Lehner's attitude has endeared himself to Sabres fans. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News file photo)

Robin Lehner's attitude has endeared himself to Sabres fans. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News file photo)

[Read: Amy Moritz on the shutdowns of Kane, Lehner]

Sully explains that Kane is in his early prime and needs to grow up -- Benigni agrees and wonders if the Sabres winger can be a leader. Bucky posits that Kane's issues have followed him from Winnipeg, while Sully says that Kane has been a good guy to the media and in the locker room, but he needs to put the puck in the net more.

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3) Rex Ryan's response to Thurman Thomas: The legendary Bills running back told CBS Sports Radio that he thinks Bills head coach Rex Ryan has learned a lesson from last season and won't be as brash this coming year. In his response, Ryan says he'll remain himself.

[Read Tyler Dunne's piece on Thurman speaking out]

Sully: "Rex Ryan reminds me of Donald Trump," especially in the way he refashions arguments. Bucky "gets a kick out of Rex on an elementary level," but in reality, he sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher -- just a lot of noise.

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4) NCAA title game preview, Syracuse's deep tourney run: With Javad on set, Bucky is the lone pundit to take North Carolina over Villanova, as Sully thinks that the Wildcats' defense, which shut down Oklahoma star Buddy Hield on Saturday, will be too much for UNC, who's led be a "disingenuous, overrated" head coach in Roy Williams.

Villanova's stifling defense shut down Buddy Hield and Oklahoma in the NCAA Final Four. (Getty Images)

Villanova's stifling defense shut down Buddy Hield and Oklahoma in the NCAA Final Four. (Getty Images)

[Read: Bucky's Power Take on Buddy Hield]

As for 'Cuse, Benigni was impressed by the Orange's surprise trip to the Final Four, but was rubbed the wrong way by Boeheim's insistence that cheating didn't go on in the program. Sully says that "Teflon" Boeheim should have already been fired at least once.

Bucky admits that Boeheim is a good in-game coach, but the absurd amount of power that the Orange head coach wields is sickening. Sully nods, drawing a parallel of authority between Boeheim and late Penn State coach Joe Paterno.

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5) Extra Points:

*Sully: Poet T.S. Eliot may not agree, but Sully thinks that April is the coolest month for sports. Men's and women's Final Fours, opening day for baseball, the Masters beginning on Thursday, the dawn of the NBA and NHL playoffs, and to a lesser extent, the NFL Draft at the end of the month.

*Bucky: Loves the Masters, as Augusta National brings out the best in golfers. It's not the same without Tiger, though, whose troubles with his marriage, injuries, swing changes and even the yips have plagued his recent history. Tiger, who will miss the Masters, was at his best at Augusta.

*Benigni: Doesn't think the NHL had enough bite in its six-game suspension of Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, who has a history of dirty play and was ruled to have "used his stick as a weapon." The punishment doesn't fit the crime, Benigni says, and the five regular season games he'll have to sit out feels like a pre-playoff rest for the superstar.

The next "Sports Talk Sunday" will run at 11:30 p.m. on April 10 on WGRZ-TV.

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