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Sharpen Up: April 11, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

Dan Bylsma and the players met with the media for the final time this season as the players cleaned out their lockers. Buffalo missed the playoffs for the sixth year in a row and no one is happy about it. 

Here's what you need to know.

Check out our full recap of Locker Cleanout Day here.

These are some of the notable quotes:


"It was a very disappointing season," Sabres captain Brian Gionta said. "I don't think anyone is happy with where we sit. There's not much positive to be drawn except that, hopefully, the feeling we had after the game, guys realized how devastated and disappointed we are and they're not willing to accept that come next year."


"I tried to take a little more ownership this year," Jack Eichel said. "It's tough. You're out of the lineup for 21 games and you come back, and you're still trying to find your game and [I was] a bit inconsistent. I think more than anything, to be a leader on a team, to be a leader in any type of sport or business or whatever you're doing, you have to perform. And if you're not performing, who's going to follow you?"

 " … I think that I haven't scratched the surface of where I can be," Eichel continued later.


"I don't think we played a full, structured game," Robin Lehner said. "I don't know that we had too many full 60-minute good efforts. That's something we've got to work on. I think we played an open game, back-and-forth game, and it doesn't work."


"We can't expect to continue to do the same things, do it the same way and have a better result," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "That change - it's got to change - and that change comes with some uncomfortable times and some unhappy people at different times. But that's something we're going to keep pushing on and keep pushing for our team because we have to know we have to change if we're going to develop into a team that we think we can be, which is a winning team."

Check out more exit interviews here.


Amerks get some help

With three games remaining on their schedule, the Rochester Americans got three players back from Buffalo. The Sabres assigned Alexander Nylander, Evan Rodrigues and Linus Ullmark to the AHL. 

The Amerks host Binghamton tomorrow at Blue Cross Arena. We'll have more in our Amerks Update later today.


Top Team Notes (via @SabresPR):

•   Buffalo's power play finished the season at a league-best 24.5 percent success rate, marking the second time in franchise history that the Sabres have led the league in power-play percentage (1991-92 - 22.5%). It ranks as the third-best conversion rate in franchise history and the 15th-best by any team since the league began publishing the stat in 1987-88.
•   The Sabres got at least 10 wins from two different goaltenders (Lehner - 23, Nilsson - 10) for the first time since the 2006-07 season (Miller - 40, Biron - 12) and had two goaltenders with at least five games played log a save percentage of .920 or better for the first time in franchise history (Nilsson - .923, Lehner - .920).
•   Buffalo's goaltenders combined to post a .921 save percentage this season, marking the fourth-best team rate in the league this season and the fifth-best in franchise history:





Bobrovsky, Korpisalo, McElhinney, Forsberg



Holtby, Grubauer



Price, Montoya, Lindgren



Lehner, Nilsson, Ullmark







Hasek, Roloson, Biron



Hasek, Shields



Hasek, Shields, Trefilov



Miller, Lalime, Enroth



Lehner, Nilsson, Ullmark



Jack Eichel

 •   At 20 years of age, Jack Eichel became just the fifth player in franchise history to lead the team (or tie for the team lead) in points before his 21st birthday:

  • 1970-71: Gilbert Perreault
  • 1971-72: Rick Martin
  • 1988-89: Pierre Turgeon
  • 1989-90: Pierre Turgeon

•   Jack Eichel's .93 points per game this season ranked him 11th among NHL skaters with at least 20 games played and were the most by a Sabre under the age of 21 since Pierre Turgeon (1.33) in 1989-90.


Brian Gionta

•   Brian Gionta appeared in his 1,000th NHL game on March 27 vs. Florida, becoming the 312th NHL player (23rd active player) to play in 1,000 games. He was also the 43rd American player to reach the milestone and the 10th player to do so as a member of the Sabres.
•   With his goal in the game, Gionta became the third Sabres player to score in his 1,000th NHL game, joining Gilbert Perreault (1/29/1984 vs. Pittsburgh) and Phil Russell (3/12/1986 at Chicago).


Matt Moulson

•   Matt Moulson finished the season tied for 11th in the league with 11 power-play goals. It was his highest total since the 2011-12 season and the most by a Sabre since Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford each recorded 11 in 2010-11.


Ryan O'Reilly

•   Ryan O'Reilly ranked fifth in the league and set a career high with a faceoff win percentage of 58.0 percent. It was the fourth-best season by a Sabres center since the league began publishing faceoff percentage in 1997-98:

  • Paul Gaustad - 59.8% (2010-11)
  • Chris Gratton - 58.9% (2002-03)
  • Chris Drury - 58.8% (2006-07)
  • Ryan O'Reilly - 58.0% (2016-17)

•   Ryan O'Reilly (21:27) led all NHL forwards in average ice time per game for the second consecutive season.

Rasmus Ristolainen

•   At 26:23, Rasmus Ristolainen averaged the most ice time by a Sabres skater in a full season with the team since Alexei Zhitnik (26:33) in 2002-03.
•   Rasmus Ristolainen's 24 power-play assists tied for fourth-most in the league this season and tied for 21st-most in a season in franchise history. It was the highest total by a Sabres defenseman since Garry Galley logged 28 on the 1995-96 season.
•   Rasmus Ristolainen recorded an assist on 20.2 percent of his teammates' goals this season, joining Phil Housley (22.6% in 1989-90) as just the second Sabres defenseman ever to recorded an assist on more than 20 percent of his teammates' goals in a season.
•   Rasmus Ristolainen's 39 assists tied him for seventh among all NHL defensemen this season and were the 19th-most by a defenseman in franchise history. Only one other Sabres defenseman in the last 20 years has matched this mark (Brian Campbell, 42 assists in 2006-07).


On tap

General manager Tim Murray is scheduled to meet with the media tomorrow at 2 p.m. We'll have the live stream for you here at

As previously mentioned, we'll have our weekly Amerks update for you today as well.

And that'll do it for the daily edition of Sharpen Up… for now. We'll be back with a weekly edition throughout the summer starting Monday morning. 

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