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Sharpen Up: All the Sabres news you need to know on January 4, 2020

Celebrate the '90s as the Sabres take on the Panthers

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak / Sabres.com

The Sabres host the Florida Panthers tonight and it's also '90s Night -errr '90s Day - with it now being a 1 p.m. faceoff from KeyBank Center.

Welcome back some alumni from 1990s before the game and make sure you're one of the first 10,000 fans in the building so you can grab a red and black "goathead" pennant. Tickets for the game are on sale now.

Click here for more details on '90s Night.

Here's what you need to know.

 

Today's matchup

From @SabresPR's Game Notes… 

  • This is the third of four meetings between the Sabres and Panthers this season.
  • Last meeting: Buffalo defeated Florida 5-2 in Florida on Nov. 24, 2019
  • Next meeting: Thursday, March 19 in Florida
  • The Sabres are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Panthers; 4-6-0 at home.

 

  • With wins in their first two meetings of the season, the Sabres have multiple victories against the Panthers in a season for the first time since 2016-17. A win today would give Buffalo wins in three consecutive matchups with Florida for the first time since they won three straight from Feb. 10 to Oct. 20, 2011.

 

  • Sam Reinhart has 19 points (9+10) in 19 career games against the Panthers, including six multi-point games. It's his highest point total against any NHL team and ties his rate against Nashville (6+3 in 9 GP) for his best career per-game output against any opponent.

 

  • Jack Eichel has posted 10 points (2+8) in his last 10 matchups with the Panthers, including the game-winner in the last game between the teams and the shootout winner in their first meeting of the season.

 

  • The Sabres are 12-5-3 through their first 20 home games of the season. The team has totaled 27 points through its first 20 home games for the second consecutive season.

 

  • The team's .675 points percentage at home ranked 10th in the NHL before Friday's games. If they finished the season at this pace, it would tie as the Sabres' 11th-best home record ever and would be their best since the 1989-90 season (27-11-2, .700).


Friday's practice

Video: Updates from Friday's practice

From the Ice Level Practice Report… 

With the news that Victor Olofsson is expected to miss five to six weeks with a lower-body injury, Buffalo Sabres coach Ralph Krueger was already focused on how to succeed in the rookie's absence by the time practice began at KeyBank Center on Friday. 

After adding to the team's forward depth with the addition of Michael Frolik from Calgary on Thursday, the Sabres recalled veteran winger Scott Wilson from Rochester on Friday morning. Fellow rookie Rasmus Asplund, meanwhile, got the first crack at replacing Olofsson alongside Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart.

"It's what coaches need to do, is you look at what you have and not what you don't have and you just work with that group," Krueger said. "That's what experience does for that part of your brain. There's no room for emotion in this situation. You need to put the best possible group together to compete against Florida tomorrow and deal with Victor as a separate issue until he returns.

"Of course, he has been a very important catalyst to the good things that are happening here in the team and we need to fill that hole. Guys need to step up. … It's definitely a challenging situation, but we'll pull together and fill that hole."

Video: AFTER PRACTICE: Ralph Krueger

Olofsson sustained his injury during the sequence that led to Sam Reinhart's game-tying goal in the third period against Edmonton on Thursday. Olofsson got the edge of his skate caught in a rut on the ice as he turned to pass back to Zach Bogosian at the point, forcing him to fall awkwardly on his right leg.

The winger has been a fixture on the team's top scoring line alongside Eichel and Sam Reinhart this season. His season totals of 16 goals and 34 points lead league rookies and rank second on the Sabres. He was named NHL Rookie of the Month for the second time on Thursday.

The Sabres were already without forward Jeff Skinner, whose recovery timetable was set at three to four weeks after sustaining an upper-body injury last Friday. Vladimir Sobotka (knee) and Tage Thompson (upper body) are both out indefinitely. 

Krueger liked what he saw from Asplund playing alongside Eichel and Reinhart in the third period against the Oilers. Asplund has become a trusted defensive presence since earning his first career recall in mid-November, a factor that Krueger said makes him a fit to fill in for Olofsson.

"There's a defensive component to that position, releasing Jack and Sam with the confidence that who's playing with them is going to cover, too, and they cover for each other," Krueger said. "What we're seeing in Asplund's game is that two-way awareness and the ability, very quickly, to also involve himself in the offense which he's still growing daily in front of our eyes here. But we really enjoyed seeing what we did in the end stretch of the game yesterday with him."

There's lots more to be read by clicking here. 


Frolik ready for fresh start

New Sabres forward Michael Frolik joined a conference call with the media yesterday, one day after his trade from Calgary to Buffalo. Read the full story here.

Michael Frolik expressed excitement about the potential for a fresh start with the Buffalo Sabres during a conference call with reporters on Friday.

The Sabres acquired Frolik from Calgary in exchange for a fourth-round pick, which they received from Montreal for defenseman Marco Scandella on Thursday. Frolik said a change of scenery was welcome after seeing limited playing time with the Flames this season.

"I'm really looking for a new opportunity there," he said. "I'm really excited. Like I said, it's a fresh start for me there and I'm really excited. I'm looking forward to meet the guys and meet the group and hopefully it happens sooner than later."

Sabres general manager Jason Botterill cited Frolik's 5-on-5 game and experience on the penalty kill as characteristics that made him an attractive addition to the team's forward group. The 31-year-old scored 14 even-strength goals last season. He's scored at least 12 goals at even strength in five of the past six seasons.

Here's a link to the rest of the story.  

 

World Juniors Update

Dylan Cozens and Team Canada have a 1 p.m. ET faceoff today against Finland in the semifinal round of the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic.

The winner of that game will take on the victor of Sweden and Russia's game for gold tomorrow. 

 

Today in Sabres history

1976: The Sabres defeat the Soviet Wings 12-6 in an international exhibition game at Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, handing the Soviets the worst loss ever by a USSR squad in international play. The Sabres were one of only two teams from the NHL to defeat the Wings on their tour.


Skills Challenge is tomorrow

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: Team Campbell vs. Team Wales 👊Don't miss Skills Challenge this Sunday! Tickets: https://t.co/6W7OJKa791 pic.twitter.com/Wh7X5Es2Jb

 

Go Sabres. Go Bills. Let's Go Buffalo. 
 

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