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Sharpen Up: February 15, 2018

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

Buffalo is in Canada tonight for a game against the Ottawa Senators. The Sabres are coming off a big 5-3 win over Tampa on Tuesday where Ryan O'Reilly posted three points. 

Here's what you need to know.


Wednesday's practice

Video: Sabres Now (2/14/18)

O'Reilly has been on a pretty good run with back-to-back three-point games. He's been playing at a point-per-game clip in his last 22 games, totaling 10 goals and 12 assists since Dec. 22. He was the focus of our Ice Level Practice Report… 

Kyle Okposo still remembers the moment he learned of Ryan O'Reilly's prowess in the faceoff circle, a lesson he had to learn the hard way. Okposo was still with the New York Islanders, who found themselves trailing but pushing to come back with a 6-on-5 advantage.

Okposo was called upon three times to take draws in that situation, and all three times he found himself matched up with O'Reilly. 

"He won three dead clean," Okposo recalled Wednesday morning. 

Video: After Practice: HOUSLEY

O'Reilly finished among the league's top three in faceoffs won in his each of his first two seasons in Buffalo, but this season his responsibilities have reached new heights. He's won 54 draws in two games since Jack Eichel went down with a high-ankle sprain, giving him a league-high 856 wins this season.

At his current pace - and recent numbers without Eichel suggest that pace will only increase - he would finish the season with 1,238 faceoff wins. That would be the second-highest total in a single season since the NHL began tracking faceoff stats in 1997-98. Rod Brind'Amour holds the record with 1,268 (via @Sabres PR). 

Not only is O'Reilly winning draws in mass quantities, he's been doing it with elite efficiency. O'Reilly leads the NHL (minimum 100 attempts) with a 61.3-percent success rate in the faceoff circle. Only two players have won 1,000 or more draws in a season while maintaining at least a 59-percent clip: Brind'Amour (five times) and Boston's Patrice Bergeron (two times).

Read more here. And keep a look out for a new edition of Tablet Talk featuring Martin Biron and - you guessed it - Ryan O'Reilly.

We'll also have news and notes from the morning skate coming up for you as well. That'll lead up to the GMC Game Night pregame show at 7 p.m. on MSG. Faceoff is scheduled for just after 7:30 on MSG and WGR 550. 

The Sabres are back home for a pair of games starting Saturday afternoon. 

Tonight's matchup

From the Game Notes… 

  • This is the second of four meetings between the Sabres and Senators this season.
  • Last meeting: Buffalo defeated Ottawa 3-2 in Buffalo on Dec. 12, 2017
  • Next meeting: Thursday, March 8, 2018 in Ottawa
  • The Sabres are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games vs. the Senators; 4-5-1 on the road


  • The Sabres enter tonight's game with points in nine straight meetings with the Senators (7-0-2) for the first time in the all-time series, including the team's first four-game winning streak against Ottawa since they won in six straight meetings from Dec. 4, 2010 to Nov. 11, 2011.
  • Buffalo won all three road games against Ottawa last season. The Sabres are now on a five-game point streak in visits to Ottawa (4-0-1) that spans the last two seasons and are looking to stretch that streak to six games for the first time in the all-time series.
  • Buffalo and Ottawa have had 18 of their last 24 games decided by a single goal. Seven of those games were decided in overtime or a shootout.
  • The Sabres are 8-6 all-time in shootouts against the Senators. Their 14 shootouts against Ottawa make up the team's highest total against any opponent.


  • The Sabres enter tonight's game having scored at least four goals in each of their last four games for the first time since Nov. 27 to Dec. 4, 2015.
  • With four goals tonight, the team would have four or more goals in five consecutive games in a season for the first time since they did it from Feb. 20 to March 2, 2007.
  • The Sabres have also scored at least four goals in three consecutive road games for the first time since March 2012.
  • With four goals tonight, the team would stretch that streak to four straight road games for the first time since Nov. 2006.


  • Buffalo enters tonight's game with wins in each of the team's last four road games dating back to Jan. 22. The Sabres have won four straight road games in a season for the first time since the first four road games of the 2011-12 season.
  • A win tonight would give the Sabres five straight road wins for the first time since the team won its 10 road games in 2006-07.
  • With an overtime loss tonight, the Sabres would have points in five straight road games for the first time since the team went 4-0-1 in a five-game span in March 2012.
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