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Sharpen Up: All the Sabres news you need to know on December 5, 2019

Buffalo is in Calgary tonight to open a three-game road trip

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

The Buffalo Sabres kick off a three-game road trip tonight. They'll face the Calgary Flames at 9 p.m. on MSG and WGR 550. Pregame coverage begins on MSG at 8:30. 

Here's what you need to know.


Tonight's matchup


From @SabresPR's Game Notes… 

  • Buffalo is 13-6-3 against the Pacific Division since the beginning of last season, including a 3-0-2 record in their last five games.
  • The Sabres and Flames have had five of their last seven games decided by an overtime goal, including each of the last three meetings in Calgary.
  • With a Sabres win tonight, Buffalo and Calgary will have split their season series for six consecutive seasons.


  • Jack Eichel enters today's game on a 10-game point streak that began on Nov. 16. He has recorded 19 points (9+10) during the league's longest active streak.
  • Eichel has recorded at least one assist in each of the last eight games. With an assist tonight, he'd tie the longest assist streak of his career, set from Feb. 14 to March 4, 2017.


  • This is the second of two meetings between the Sabres and Flames this season.
  • Last meeting: Calgary defeated Buffalo 3-2 (OT) in Buffalo on Nov. 27
  • The Sabres are 4-3-3 in their last 10 games vs. the Flames; 3-6-1 on the road.


  • Rasmus Ristolainen (1+2) and Brandon Montour (0+3) each enter the game with points in three straight contests. With points tonight, Montour would tie his longest career point streak, set from Nov. 18 to 25, 2018 (1+5), and Ristolainen would set a new season best.


  • Victor Olofsson has recorded points in 11 of his last 13 games (5+7).


Wednesday's practice

Video: Practice Report: Asplund's Support System

We have more on Eichel in the Ice Level Practice Report…

Jack Eichel left the penalty box during the Buffalo Sabres' home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs last Friday and found the puck waiting for him along the defensive blue line.

He scooped it up and gained momentum as he rushed through the neutral zone. Marcus Johansson skated on the opposite side of the ice as Eichel drifted into the right faceoff circle and fired a wrist shot between the pads of goaltender Michael Hutchinson. It was his 15th goal of the season. His 16th came with an empty net that night.

Video: TOR@BUF: Eichel pots wrist shot on odd-man rush

Goal No. 17 came three days later, against New Jersey on Monday. Eichel found himself alone at the net-front and buried a one-time shot from point-blank range, once against beating the goalie between the pads. 

Video: NJD@BUF: Eichel beats Domingue from the low slot

"I've been kind of shooting low," Eichel said. "I feel like in the past, I've had a lot of opportunities and just passed them by just missing the net.

"... You try and go high and miss the net, you don't give yourself a chance to score or maybe someone else a chance to score. You don't know what's going to happen. Just trying to shoot different places, I think, and knowing that sometimes it doesn't matter how hard you get it off. It's just about surprising the goalie."

Eichel said on the opening day of training camp that he wanted to score more goals in his fifth season. To say he's on pace to do so through 28 games is an understatement. He's averaging .61 goals per game, putting him on pace for 49 over a full season. His current career-high is 28, set in 77 games last season. 

His 17 goals are tied with Nathan MacKinnon for sixth in the NHL. Thirteen of those have come at even strength, tied with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and David Pastrnak for fourth in the league. 

Video: OTT@BUF: Eichel fires wrist shot to finish hat trick

The scoring mentality hasn't taken away from Eichel's playmaking ability, either. He's on pace for 61 assists, which would surpass the career-high of 54 he set last season. 

Video: BUF@FLA: Skinner redirects home Eichel's feed

So, what's led to the success? Eichel isn't exactly shooting more; his shots per game average of 3.71 is slightly below the career-high mark he set last season. But his shooting percentage is up significantly, from 9.2 to 16.3.

Read the full report here.

Injury updates

Video: AFTER PRACTICE: Ralph Krueger

More from the Ice Level Practice Report…

Forwards Kyle Okposo (concussion) and Evan Rodrigues (lower body) both traveled with the team, while Jean-Sebastien Dea was assigned to Rochester. 

Rasmus Dahlin stayed in Buffalo as he continues to work his way back from a concussion, though Krueger said the defenseman has taken positive steps in his recovery. 

Okposo remains day-to-day. Rodrigues is expected to be available on the trip, though the option exists to remain with the lineup of 11 forwards and seven defensemen that had led to victories in two of the last three games.

Luukkonen named ECHL Goalie of the Month

Sabres prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was named the ECHL Goaltender of the Month for November. Luukkonen posted a record of 6-2-1 in nine appearances for the Cincinnati Cyclones during the month, logging a 1.88 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage in those games.

He posted back-to-back shutouts on Nov. 14 and 16, when he made a combined 55 shots in victories over Allen and Fort Wayne. 

The strong start to his pro career marks a continued progression for the 20-year-old, who dominated in his first North American season with OHL Sudbury in 2018-19. He set Sudbury franchise records in wins (38) and shutouts (6) and became the first European to win the Red Tilson Trophy, awarded to the league's Most Outstanding Player.

Read more here.

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