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Sharpen Up: January 26, 2017

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Before they head home for the All-Star break, the Buffalo Sabres have a chance on Thursday to do something do something they haven't yet accomplished this season: win their fourth game in a row. That chance will come on the road against the same Dallas Stars team that the Sabres beat 4-1 in Buffalo last Monday.

The Stars are 1-1-2 since that meeting, while the Sabres have rebounded from a loss in Toronto by stringing together three straight overtime victories. If Buffalo wins tonight, it will give the team its first four-game winning streak since Dec. 9 to 15, 2014, according to Sabres PR. 

Here's what you need to know on a game night in Dallas.


The best offense is a good defense

There's no question that the Sabres' defensemen have been more involved on the offensive end as of late, especially Cody Franson. Franson is currently on his first three-game point streak since October 2015, a span in which he's scored one goal and three assists.

Two of Franson's assists came in Nashville on Tuesday, including this goal from Jack Eichel in the second period. Take a look:

Video: BUF@NSH: Eichel ties game with timely rebound goal

"Talk about adding offense from the point or adding offense from the defensemen, I think there's this idea of up in the rush or Paul Coffey-ish and doing that to get more goals and even take more chances," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "But, that [goal]'s a good indicator of where we've gotten a lot better at as a five-man offense, pounding the puck in the offensive zone, possessing it."

Video: BYLSMA: After Practice

Chris Ryndak spoke to Eichel and Franson following practice in Dallas on Wednesday and offered a comprehensive breakdown of that play to illustrate how the Sabres are improving their five-man offense. You can find that report here.


Parents trip continues

Not only does the game tonight represent a chance for the Sabres to win four straight games, it also represents one more chance at an O'Reilly group hug. Each player was allowed to invite one parent on this road trip, meaning Ryan and Cal O'Reilly were able to bring both mom and dad along, meaning we got to see this after the game in Nashville:

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: O'Reilly fam group hug ��Brothers Cal & Ryan brought both Dad & Mom for the road trip.

Brian Duff caught up with some of the players and their parents in Wednesday's Sabres in :90, which you can watch below.

Video: Sabres in :90 (1/25/17)


Fill out your Sabres Showdown Bracket

It's back. After Tyler Ennis won the inaugural Sabres Showdown skills competition last season, Ryan O'Reilly, Jack Eichel, Marcus Foligno, Zemgus Girgensons, Brian Gionta, Jake McCabe, Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen are set to compete in this year's event.

You can fill out your showdown bracket here. If the pride of picking the winner isn't enough, you'll also have a chance to win a jersey signed by the Showdown champion, a stick autographed by the runner-up or an ADPRO Sports prize pack. 

The first matchup airs during the broadcast on Feb. 4, so make sure to fill out your brackets beforehand. Good luck. 


Notes from Duffalo

Did you know the Sabres have averaged 3.3 goals per game in January? That number comes courtesy of Duffer in his latest blog, which was posted to the site on Wednesday. He expands on that point, shares stories from the road and points out an incredible Dan Bylsma wardrobe fact in this edition, which you can find here.


On Tap Today

The Sabres are scheduled to skate at 12:30 p.m. EST this afternoon, and our team will be on hand to provide full coverage. Check back following the game for full highlights and postgame coverage.

Coverage on MSG-B begins at 8 p.m..

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