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Sabres Notebook: Guhle gaining confidence

It was just his fourth career NHL game and an inauspicious start for Brendan Guhle.

The defenseman took a hooking penalty just 4:47 into the game.

Not the best start, especially when facing the second-best power play in the league. The Winnipeg Jets scored with Guhle in the box to kickstart their offense in a 7-4 win over the Buffalo Sabres in KeyBank Center Tuesday night.

"That's a tough start," Guhle said of the penalty. "It happens and it's unfortunate but it's how you can respond for those kind of things. I responded pretty well and that's how I value that."

It was a low-key, even-keel response for the 20-year-old Guhle, which is how he's approached this first year of pro life. He turned heads for Sabres fans last season when he made his NHL debut on an emergency recall from his Prince George Cougars junior team in the Western Hockey League. He played three games in that stint before going back to juniors, but certainly looked like the Sabres defenseman of the future.

He started the season with the Rochester Americans, ranking second in points among all AHL rookie defensemen with 20 (seven goals, 13 assists).

Recalled on Monday, he made his Sabres debut of the season on Tuesday, playing 17:45, including 1:16 of power play time, with three shots on goal.

He finished even on the night. He was on the ice for Jack Eichel's first goal, but then was part of a busted defensive play in the second period as the Jets jumped all over the Sabres.

With Kyle Connor blowing by his defensive partner Jake McCabe, Guhle  slide on the ice to take away a pass. Only Connor didn't pass. He blew the puck past Chad Johnson, putting the Jets up, 4-1.

But that was one play.

And the biggest thing Guhle has learned, the biggest jump from when last we saw the kid in Buffalo, is his confidence and ability to shake off mistakes.

"I just feel like I’m more confident in my playing out there really," Guhle said. "Just using my skating more, trying different things. Just playing. I'm not worried about making a mistake. I'm just going out there and just playing free."

And overall, Guhle was fairly happy with his game, which included getting the Sabres up ice with both some good breakout passes and some speed carrying the puck into the Winnipeg zone.

"I felt pretty good out there," Guhle said. "I felt comfortable. Got some shots on net, played hard and battled my best."

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The top goal for the Buffalo Sabres was to stay out of the penalty box Tuesday.

That didn't happen.

The Jets went 2 for 4 on the power play. Not surprising since they entered the game with the second-best power play in the league, clicking at 25 percent.

"I think it's tough. They're a very skilled PP. They've got some good shooters and just sometimes it happens," said Sabres forward Ryan O'Reilly. "Obviously we have to be a little bit better. We can do better on the PK."

***

Jacob Josefson took a shot by Tyler Myers off his right leg, the foot/ankle area, late in the first period. While he hung around the bench, he never returned.

"A lot of guys on our team are putting their body in front of shots," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "It just hit him in the lower body area and he wasn't able to come back and push on it after he tested it out so we'll have to evaluate that tomorrow."

 

***

Marty Biron will be inducted into the Rochester Americans Hall of Fame on Feb. 16 before the Amerks host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Blue Cross Arena.

Biron played for the Amerks for parts of four seasons from 1997-2001 with a 59-32-9 career record, .921 save percentage, and a 2.36 goals against average, the latter ranking 12th among all goaltenders in Amerks franchise history.

"I am so truly honored and humbled to enter the Rochester Americans Hall of Fame," Biron said in the official release. "When you think about all the amazing players and coaches that have been part of such an historical organization over the years, it's an incredible feeling to be placed among them.

"The Amerks gave me my first taste of professional hockey and allowed me to have the success I did throughout my career in both the National Hockey League and American Hockey League. I wouldn't be who I am today, even now in my current role with the Sabres, if it weren't for those early years in Rochester. I am truly grateful and so proud of my time with the Amerks."

Biron's best season with the Amerks came in 1998-99 when he appeared in 52 games and finished with a 36-13-3 record while setting the franchise mark for the lowest goals against average (2.07) and highest save percentage (.930), which also tied an AHL record. He won the AHL's top two goaltending awards – the Aldedge (Baz) Bastien Memorial Award, presented to the goalie voted best at his position, and the Harry (Hap) Holmes Memorial Award, given to the goalie with the lowest goals-against.

Biron played in the Sabres organization through the 2006-07 season, closing out his 16-year playing career with stops in Philadelphia, the New York Islanders and the New York Rangers. He retired after the 2013-14 season with a 230-191-52 record and 28 career shutouts.

He serves at the director of goaltending for the Academy of Hockey at HarborCenter and is in his first season working for the Sabres television broadcasts.

***

Boy, boy, crazy boy. Keep cool boy.

It's not quite West Side Story, but the rivalry between the Sharks and Jets in the NHL reached a new level this week.

Several members of the San Jose Sharks were asked what the worst NHL city was and they named Winnipeg. In the video posted on Twitter by NBC Sports California, the broadcasting partner of the Sharks players complained about the city.

"Winnipeg. Dark, cold, Internet is a little questionable," defenseman Justin Braun said. "Internet doesn't work ever. I don't know if they have Wi-Fi there yet."

"I think it's Winnipeg because every time it's so cold and dark there. I don't like it there," said forward Tomas Hertl.

The video has since been deleted.

Meeting the media Tuesday morning in Buffalo before playing the Sabres in KeyBank Center, Jets coach Paul Maurice had a classic response.

 

"I don't think any coach, any player, trainer, referee should ever complain about a day in the National Hockey League," Maurice said. "We've got a sold-out building. Pretty sure that all goes into hockey-related revenues and everybody cashes their check.

"The thread count in your hotel sheet isn’t right or your frappuccino isn’t frothed right. I don’t even know what a frappuccino is. But my point being, we've got nothing to complain about. Pretty good life."

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