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The preseason view from here is that the Toronto Maple Leafs are finally going to figure it out come spring and have a deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, in which they haven't won a single series since 2004. But what a long and winding road it figures to be. Implosion from within is always going to be a danger in media-crazy Toronto, where the Leafs have already e…

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It's fairly well-known who Jack Eichel's top friends are around the NHL. They all have backgrounds from the Boston area or the U.S. National Development Team. Think names such as Calgary's Noah Hanifin and Johnny Gaudreau, Toronto's Auston Matthews and Detroit's Dylan Larkin. The one player Eichel has developed a tight bond with since his NHL career began – and whom he …

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How about seven Sabres-Leafs games come April? How about seven Auston Matthews- Jack Eichel showdowns? What we saw Tuesday night in KeyBank Center was flat-out epic. Nice job by NBC Sports Network to have the foresight to understand what the Buffalo-Toronto rivalry means and what it could become. It's pretty obvious what all the fuss is about with the Maple Leafs thi…

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The NHL's international initiatives continue to be a big success overseas, with the Winnipeg Jets and Florida Panthers drawing two straight sellout crowds Thursday and Friday in Helsinki, Finland, to see native sons Patrik Laine and Aleksander Barkov. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made waves prior to the teams' opener when he said the league is already well on its way t…

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So we're just over a week into the season and because it's only October, there's no need for any massive overreactions. Logic dicates that's true. But the season's first month is nonetheless a time to start drawing some conclusions and watching for trends. Remember the caveat we presented in our Sabres preview section through the math of Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman: S…

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So why do teams, fans and media spend all season fretting about the quest for home-ice advantage in the playoffs? So far this spring, it's proving to mean very little. Road teams are 40-35 in the postseason this year heading into Saturday night's Tampa Bay-Washington showdown in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final at Tampa's Amalie Arena. That includes a 19-13 mark s…

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ETOBICOKE, Ont. – Probably the last place the Buffalo Sabres need to be Monday night is the Air Canada Centre. At one of the lowest points in their season, when they once again can't put the puck in the ocean if they were given a free shot from the beach, the Sabres will meet the Toronto Maple Leafs in a game where plenty of history can be made for the NHL's resurgent O…

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There's no word yet on any sort of timetable for Jack Eichel's return to the Buffalo Sabres' lineup. Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs appear to be on the verge of getting Auston Matthews back, but his return may not come when the teams meet Thursday in KeyBank Center. The Sabres are 6-6-2 without Eichel, who suffered a high ankle sprain Feb. 10 at Boston and has resum…

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Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews remain sidelined by their injuries but the franchise players for the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs have both returned to the ice to skate on their own. The good friends and All-Star Game teammates won't be going head to head Monday in KeyBank Center and it's probably unrealistic to think they will do so here March 15 as well. But…

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The Buffalo Sabres are treading water, trying not to sink into the basement of the NHL standings. In the words of Vito Corleone: How did things ever get this far? Before the season, we polled a panel of NHL media figures around the league for their opinions on the team. Now, after the All-Star break, we revisited some of our panelists to get their take on the struggling…

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TAMPA, Fla. — Auston Matthews was asked Sunday night if his pointing "good-goal" celebration has a name. He thought about it quickly and came up with The Referee. Perfect. Matthews and close friend Jack Eichel concocted the signature moment of Sunday's NHL All-Star Game in the wake of the NHL's continued absurdity with replay challenges. It was hilarious and put anot…

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TAMPA, Fla. — Jack Eichel had three points Sunday as the Atlantic Division beat the Metropolitan, 7-4, in one semifinal at the NHL All-Star Game in Amalie Arena. But the Buffalo Sabres center, one of the game's standouts on the ice, also scored huge points on the humor scale with his goal celebration. Eichel snapped a 4-4 tie on a goal with 3:20 to play and it came s…

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TAMPA, Fla. -- Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said he has not had a chance to talk with Sabres coach and former Predators assistant Phil Housley much this year because the teams have yet to meet. But Laviolette has been following the struggles of Housley's new team. "I know he's a great coach and he'll figure it out," Laviolette said. "They've won some games recently …

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Come Monday night, two of the Buffalo Sabres' trio of first-round draft picks from 1982 will be members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. One is current head coach Phil Housley, who became an honored member in 2015. The other is Dave Andreychuk, who will accept induction during this year's annual ceremony in Toronto. Housley's reaction: "Well, Scotty must have known something…

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You wonder if the NHL and NBC have buyer's remorse on the Winter Classic right about now. The Rangers and the Sabres will be bringing a New York State of Mind to New Year's Day in Citi Field, but will anyone care to watch them by Jan. 1? Both teams entered their games Saturday 1-5-2 (and then both won). The Sabres had been outscored, 32-20, and the Rangers by 30-20. The…