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Sharpen Up: All the Sabres news you need to know on January 11, 2020

Buffalo plays Vancouver this afternoon at KeyBank Center

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak / Sabres.com

It's another Battle of 1970 as expansion brethren Buffalo and Vancouver face off this afternoon at KeyBank Center. It's a 1 p.m. start with the GMC Game Night pregame show getting underway at 12:30 on MSG.

Tickets are on sale now.

Here's what you need to know.

Today's matchup

 

From @SabresPR's Game Notes… 

  • This is the second of two meetings between the Sabres and Canucks this season.
  • Last meeting: Vancouver defeated Buffalo 6-5 (OT) in Vancouver on Dec. 7, 2019
  • The Sabres are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Canucks; 6-4-0 at home.

 

  • Jack Eichel has recorded points in each of Buffalo's last five games (3+2). His current stretch trails only his run of 18 consecutive games played with a point (Nov. 16 to Dec. 21) for his longest streak this season.

 

  • Conor Sheary is expected to appear in his 300th NHL game today.
  • Sheary has recorded four points (2+2) in Buffalo's last four games.

 

  • Marcus Johansson has totaled six points (1+5) in his last five games.
  • Johansson (3+1) and Johan Larsson (1+3) have each recorded four points in their last four games against the Canucks.

 

  • The Sabres are 13-5-3 through their first 21 home games of the season. The team's .675 points percentage at home ranked ninth in the NHL before Friday's games. If they finished the season at this pace, it would rank as the Sabres' 12th-best home record in franchise history.

 

  • Sam Reinhart (9+11) is also producing near a point-per-game rate through 21 home games this season. Reinhart has totaled nine points (3+6) in his last seven games at KeyBank Center.

 

  • Today's game opens Buffalo's ninth of 14 sets of back-to-back games this season, which continues tomorrow night at Detroit.
  • The Sabres are 3-4-1 in the first game of back-to-back sets and 3-4-1 in the second game so far this season.


Friday's practice

Video: SABRES IN :50

From the Ice Level Practice Report…

Following a 5-1 loss in St. Louis on Thursday, Sabres coach Ralph Krueger highlighted shot volume and net-front presence as key areas in need of improvement as the team continues to play without two of its offensive threats in Victor Olofsson and Jeff Skinner. 

The Sabres tallied 19 shots against the Blues, a figure they'll look to improve at home against Vancouver on Saturday. 

"We had a meeting before practice. Even some of the drills, it was at the forefront of what we were trying to work on," forward Jimmy Vesey said. "I think it's just a mindset, though. Every goal's not going to pretty. So, you got to get guys to the front of the net and then shoot the puck when they're there."

Vesey will get an opportunity to provide offense after spending much of the game in St. Louis on a line with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart. He practiced there Friday, and Krueger said he expects to utilize that same look against the Canucks. 

Video: AFTER PRACTICE: Krueger

Vesey is proud of the defensive game he established in the first half of this season. He's been used consistently on the penalty kill and, at plus-10, has a positive plus/minus for the first time in his career.

That said, he's also identified as a goal scorer his entire hockey life and hopes to utilize this latest opportunity to provide the Sabres with needed secondary scoring. 

"To be honest, I think I need to shoot more," he said. "I've passed up a couple in the last two games. I don't know, it feels good to make a pretty pass sometimes, but I think shooting the puck, it might go in and it might create three more chances off rebounds, off scrums.

"So, I think I got to get back to the shoot-first mentality and I'd like to score more goals in front of the net. I think I've done that in my career. I don't think I've had as many opportunities right on top of the crease. So, I got to get myself there."

Read more here.


Today's commemorative poster

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: Expansion sibs. 🤘Get your tickets to tomorrow's game and pick up a poster in the game day program: https://t.co/m0717VzIYN ��#Sabres50 pic.twitter.com/UxEeJYT5EK

You can find it inside today's free Game Night program at the arena. 

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