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Sharpen Up: April 8, 2021 | Sabres host Devils for final time this season

Buffalo can extend point streak to 6 games

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak / Sabres.com

It's a game night in Buffalo. 

The Sabres host the New Jersey Devils tonight at KeyBank Center. It's the final time these two clubs will face each other in 2020-21. 

Faceoff is set for 7 p.m. on MSG and WGR 550 with pregame coverage starting at 6:30 on MSG. 

Buffalo will look to extend the team's five-game point streak (3-0-2) to six games.

Here's what you need to know.

 

Yesterday's practice

Video: PRACTICE REPORT

We took a look at the recent play of Rasmus Asplund in yesterday's Practice Report

He has four goals in just 10 games this season, three of which have come in his past five appearances. He's finally starting to carve out a role on the team. He's been up and down from the taxi squad this year and dealt with an injury. Last year, he split time between Buffalo and Rochester, playing 29 NHL games.

Video: AFTER PRACTICE: Asplund

Asplund put mental training atop his list of priorities during the offseason.

"I was still (thinking about) yesterday and thinking about the game yesterday," Asplund said. "Just my mind never really got a rest. When you get to play like 25, 30 games like I did last year, your mental game is not there. You feel tired, you're not sleeping well."

Sabres interim head coach Don Granato referred to Asplund's taste of Buffalo last season as an "apprenticeship" of sorts. Granato saw Asplund return this season as a more refined player, aware of his strengths and weaknesses and willing to take command of his role at the NHL level.

Video: BEFORE PRACTICE: Granato

"That's what you see now," Granato said. "He was finding and searching his way around the NHL a year ago and now he's targeting what to do and what he can do within a shift and a game. And that's where you see the results now. He's very result oriented. 

"He knows what's wanted from the coach, from the system he plays, and obviously within the game itself and he's ready for that next opportunity. Being ready to seize it is really the biggest difference as he's built himself up."

The biggest factor, Asplund said, has been his ability to leave games in the past.

"I watch my video, then I do those exercises until I kind of close the book and just put that day in the past," he said. "I'm looking forward to the next day, which I felt last year I didn't do."

Asplund will likely remain on a line with Casey Mittelstadt and Tage Thompson tonight. 

Read more here.

 

Tonight's matchup


Let's dive into @SabresPR's Game Notes:

 

  • This is the eighth and final meeting between the Sabres and Devils this season.
  • Last meeting: Buffalo defeated New Jersey 5-3 in New Jersey on April 6
  • The Sabres are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Devils; 4-4-2 at home.
  • This is the 167th game all-time between Buffalo and New Jersey; Buffalo has an 82-57-27 series record.

 

  • The Sabres have a point in each of their last five games (3-0-2). A win or overtime loss tonight would give the team points in six straight for the first time since Buffalo went 5-0-1 to being the 2019-20 season.

 

  • The Sabres are 4-2-1 against the Devils this season and need at least a point tonight to capture the season series for the second season in a row after winning both matchups last season. 
  • The last time Buffalo won consecutive season series against New Jersey was in 2012-13 and 2013-14, when the team went 2-0-1 both seasons.

 

  • Casey Mittelstadt enters tonight's game on a four-game point streak, totaling five points (3+2) and a plus-three rating during that span. 
  • A point tonight would give Mittelstadt the longest point streak of his career.

 

  • Kyle Okposo has eight points (2+6) in his last eight games.

Video: AFTER PRACTICE: Dahlin

  • With a goal and an assist at New Jersey on Tuesday, Rasmus Dahlin enters tonight's game one point shy of 100 career points. 
  • With 179 games played, Dahlin is on pace to become the second-fastest Sabres defenseman to reach the milestone after making his NHL debut with the team, second only to Phil Housley, who recorded his 100th point in his 106th game.
  • With his next point, Dahlin will become the first defenseman and third player from the 2018 NHL Draft to record 100 career points (Andrei Svechnikov, Brady Tkachuk).

 

  • Since returning to the lineup on March 27, Linus Ullmark has a 3-1-1 record with a .921 save percentage and a 2.57 goals-against average.
  • A win tonight would give Ullmark wins in four consecutive starts for the second time in his career and the first since he won four consecutive starts from Dec. 11, 2018 to Jan. 3, 2019.
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