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Sharpen Up: All the Sabres news you need to know on December 14, 2019

What you need to know on a game day on Long Island

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

It's a Sabres game day on Long Island. 

The Sabres visit the New York Islanders this afternoon looking for their fourth straight victory. They have earned points in nine of their last 11 games, with a 6-3-2 record in that span. 

Speaking of points, Jack Eichel's point streak is currently at 15 games - tied with the one Patrick Kane put together in November as the best in the NHL this season. He leads the league with 14 goals and 27 points since the streak began on Nov. 16. 

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: Stacking ���em up!

Coverage on MSG this afternoon begins at 12:30 p.m., or you can listen on WGR 550. The puck drops at 1. 

Here's what you need to know. 

The streak

Eichel's stretch has put him in impressive company, among today's league leaders and in Sabres history. 

Let's start with the present. Eichel's 22 goals this season rank second in the NHL, three behind Boston's David Pastrnak. His 17 even-strength goals rank first, while his 46 points rank fifth. 

Video: NSH@BUF: Eichel buries wrister to extend point streak

He's on pace for 55 goals and 114 points, which would be the highest totals by any Sabres play since Pat LaFontaine and Alexander Mogilny put together their historic season in 1992-93. 

As far as streaks go, Eichel is already in rarified territory for the franchise. It's the sixth-longest streak in Sabres history, and a point today would match the 16-game runs put together by Rick Martin in 1974 and Tim Connolly in 2009-10. 


Today's matchup

Video: Sabres in :50 - Okposo on his linemates

The Islanders continue to be one of the NHL's premier defensive teams, having allowed a league-low average of 2.33 goals against per game. They proved as much in their first meeting with the Sabres, a 1-0 Islanders win in Buffalo on Nov. 2. 

That was when the Sabres were still in the infancy of learning to establish habits within the confines of coach Ralph Krueger's system, a process Krueger believes has advanced in the month and half since.

"The first period was actually one of our best in the season 'til then," Krueger said of that meeting. "… Then we got away from our game. We got complicated and we had turnovers and they punished us and they out-chanced us and deserved to win even though it was 1-0 at the end. But we had a really good period in the beginning. 

"The difference is now I believe we have the strength to carry that through 60 minutes and they're still the same team. They're still just grinding and consistent and punishing. If you do anything outside of your structure, you will get punished for it as quick as with any team in the league."

Third-year forward Mathew Barzal leads the Islanders with 13 goals and 27 points in 30 games.


Ristolainen's advice to Jokiharju

Henri Jokiharju credited Finnish countryman Rasmus Ristolainen with helping guide him through his first season in Buffalo, which has seen the 20-year-old take on a major role on the Sabres' back end. 

"He told me that you can't stay on the small things," Jokiharju said. "I think he sees the big picture. He just says to me, 'It's only hockey.' You can tell he's played that role like all the time. I think it's pretty key."

Read the full story on the relationship between the two defensemen and Jokiharju's season so far in Friday's practice report. 

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