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Sharpen Up: December 6, 2018

Here's what you need to know on Thursday

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

The Sabres return to work today following a day off. They just wrapped up a stretch of 11 games in 19 days and will be in action again on Saturday.

Philadelphia is in town as the four-game homestand continues. After the Flyers game, the Kings and Coyotes will be here in next week. Tickets are on sale now.

Here's what you need to know. 


What's new in Philadelphia

We'll see what injury news is available after practice today when it comes to Jason Pominville, Jake McCabe, Marco Scandella, Casey Nelson and some of the other Sabres who have been battling injuries. 

In the meantime, let's take a quick look at what's been going on with their next opponent.

Yesterday, the Flyers formally introduced new executive vice president and general manager Chuck Fletcher. He served as the GM of the Wild from 2009 until last season. has the scoop: 

The clear-cut biggest strengths of the Ron Hextall regime was the organization's overhaul of the farm system, creation of salary cap space, investment in development resources, embracing of sports science and establishment of an analytics department. While Fletcher aims to be a little more aggressive than his predecessor in seeking NHL-level upgrades if he does not believe there are in-house solutions available, he also has no intention of tearing down what has been built toward the future.

"With the NHL and the cap system these days, you have to build your team through the draft. That has to be the core of your team, there's no other way to do it," Fletcher said.

Philadelphia is 11-12-2 on the year and is currently second-to-last in the Eastern Conference with 24 points. They're 4-5-1 in their last 10 but are coming off a 4-2 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday. 

Claude Giroux leads the team in points with 30 (9+21) in 25 games. Five different goaltenders have played for the Flyers this season, including Brian Elliott, Calvin Pickard, Anthony Stolarz, Michal Neuvirth and Alex Lyon. Stolarz made 30 saves against Pittsburgh. 

They host Columbus tonight. 

Sabres Skills Challenge Tickets on sale this week

The inaugural Sabres Skills Challenge will take place on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019 at 12:30 p.m. at KeyBank Center. Current Sabres players will be divided into two teams to compete against each other in an All-Star style skills contest in an event designed for fans of all ages.

The teams will participate in five different competitions:

• Hardest Shot presented by Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort
• Accuracy Showdown presented by KeyBank
• Puck Control Relay presented by BlueCross BlueShield of WNY
• Power Play Challenge presented by Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
• Shootout Challenge

Tickets will be available for $10 and can be purchased starting Friday at

My One Buffalo mobile app members will receive a presale notification today offering the chance to buy tickets before they're available to the general public.

Sabres season ticket holders have also received an email with a presale code granting the first opportunity to purchase tickets beginning at a discounted rate of $5. 

All proceeds will benefit the Buffalo Sabres Foundation.

Select concessions can be purchased at a discounted price and free parking will be available at the KeyBank Center Ramp and at the surface lot on Perry Street between Mississippi and Columbia streets.

Amerks get back in the win column

Watch: Youtube Video

From the recap…

The Rochester Americans (14-6-2-0) scored twice in each of the last periods and rode a 25-save effort from goaltender Jonas Johansson to defeat the Utica Comets (10-13-1-1) by a 5-2 decision Wednesday at The Blue Cross Arena.

With the three-goal win, the Amerks became the first team in the North Division this season to reach the 30-point plateau and hold a three-point lead over the Cleveland Monsters for first-place in the AHL's North Division standings.

Forward Rasmus Asplund registered a career-high three-assist outing to give Rochester 30 out of a possible 40 points in the last 20 games. Wayne Simpson, Victor Olofsson and Matt Tennyson, who was reassigned by the Buffalo Sabres earlier today, all tallied a goal and an assist. 

C.J. Smith and Andrew MacWilliam rounded out the scoring while Johansson made his season debut after earning his first recall of the season from the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. The 23-year-old netminder stopped 25 of 27 to record his first AHL win of the year.

Read the full recap, complete with locker room interviews here.

The Amerks host Providence at 7:05 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena on Friday. Tickets are on sale now.  

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