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Sharpen Up: February 18, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

The Sabres look for three wins in a row this afternoon. The St. Louis Blues are in town and we'll have all the action for you starting at 12:30 p.m. on the Tops Game Night pregame show on MSG. The puck drops just after 1 p.m. and you can also listen live on WGR 550.

Here's what you need to know.


Brian Duff's game preview is ready to be watched:

 Video: Game Preview: Blues vs. Sabres

Recent history has not been kind to Buffalo in this matchup.

The Sabres are looking to snap a nine-game winless streak (0-8-1) against the Blues that includes a four-game losing streak at home. Their last win against the Blues was a 5-3 victory in St. Louis on Dec. 27, 2009. No Sabres - and only three Blues (Patrik Berglund, David Perron and Alexander Steen) - who played in that game remain on the teams' rosters today.

In the last 10 games in Buffalo between these two clubs, St. Louis is 9-1-0.

Today marks the second and final matchup of the season between Buffalo and St Louis. The Blues St. Louis defeated Buffalo 4-1 in St. Louis back on Nov. 15.


Let's look at the recent string of injuries Buffalo is dealing with:

Derek Grant missed yesterday's practice after sustaining a shoulder injury in Thursday's game and it's unlikely that he'll play in either game this weekend.

Evander Kane and Dmitry Kulikov were both also absent. Kane is battling an illness while Kulikov was given a maintenance day.

Zemgus Girgensons (mid-body) and Williams Carrier (knee) both skated before practice, but have not yet been cleared for contact.  

Cody Franson is set to return from a foot injury this weekend. He might be back as soon as today..


So it's a good thing having organizational depth is paying off...

Jourdon LaBarber caught up with Evan Rodrigues yesterday after practice. He's been centering a line featuring Marcus Foligno and captain Brian Gionta:

The undrafted forward out of Boston University has played in four games since being recalled from Rochester on Feb. 11, culminating in a career high 15:47 of ice time in Buffalo's 2-0 win over Colorado on Thursday. He has two assists in that stretch.

"I don't want to say I'm surprised, but great intelligence, some good hockey smarts and sense on both sides of the puck, in particular defensively," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said when asked what he's seen from Rodrigues during this stretch. "Positionally, when he gets the puck coming out of D-zone and puck retrievals, he's made real intelligent and smart plays."

With Rodrigues now in the middle, he's trying to bring that same element. He said Foligno and Gionta's comfort with one another helps with his confidence on the ice; he simply tries to make the smart play and find open space for them to get him the puck.

"I think that's what's helping us out a ton," Rodrigues said. "We're not trying to be too fancy. We're hitting the blue line, chipping pucks in if we don't have anything and if we have a chance to make a play I think we're making it. We're getting a lot of pucks to the net and we're getting some chances."


Zamboni Trivia

Lauren Hall goes Behind The Numbers on everyone's favorite vehicle:

 Video: By The Numbers: Zamboni Edition


On tap today

Stay tuned for Dan Bylsma's press conference shortly. We'll have it for you in full here on

 Then we'll get set for puck drop. Stick with us for full postgame coverage including highlights, locker room interviews and Jourdon's game recap.

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