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Sharpen Up: March 2, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

The Trade Deadline hit at 3 p.m. yesterday and the Sabres were one of several teams to not make a move. So the gang stays together for the final 19 games, starting tonight when Buffalo hosts the Arizona Coyotes at KeyBank Center. 

The Tops Game Night pregame show kicks off at 6:30 p.m. tonight if you're not attending the game. RJ is back in the booth and he'll have the call with Rayzor just after 7.

Here's what you need to know.


Deadline Day Recap

Jourdon LaBarber was at Tim Murray's post-deadline press conference and has the full scoop here.

Video: MURRAY: Trade Deadline

"I have a plan. Today was a small, little speed bump to that plan. That's all," Murray said. "We've got lots of picks. We've got lots of good prospects coming and are kids have come up, and some of them have played very well.

"… I'm excited about the direction we're going in. but it takes time. I've given my plan to ownership and my scouting staff. We know our timeline, and it's not an exact timeline. There are things that come up to change it, make it quicker, slow it down, but those are just little things every day."

Brian Duff pulls out some of the highlights of Murray's presser and adds some context here:

Video: Sabres in :90 (3/1/17)

Tonight's matchup

All right. Moving on. The Sabres and Coyotes go at it tonight. When these two clubs last met on Sunday in Glendale, the Coyotes rallied back from a two-goal deficit to win 3-2 in regulation. 

Even when factoring in that loss, Buffalo still has had a lot of success recently against the Coyotes.

Buffalo is 10-2-1 in its last 13 games against Arizona, including a 5-1-1 record since the beginning of the 2013-14 season.

The Sabres are 2-0-1 in their last three home games against the Coyotes, with Arizona's last regulation win in Buffalo taking place on Nov. 19, 2011.

With a point tonight, the Sabres would have points in four straight home games against the Coyotes for the first time since their first four visits following their move to Phoenix (1-0-3 from Jan. 5, 1997 to Oct. 11, 1999).

Who should we be watching tonight?

Jack Eichel has logged 22 points (6+16) in his last 21 games, including seven multi-point outings. Eichel has totaled five points (2+3) in three career games against Arizona, including at least a point in each game.

Evander Kane has 16 points (10+6) in his last 17 games.

Rasmus Ristolainen has a point in nine of his last 13 games (1+8). He also has five points (2+3) in five career matchups with Arizona.

Ryan O'Reilly has seven points (1+6) in his last seven games against the Coyotes.


Tonight in the East

With 63 points through 63 games, the Sabres are six points out of the second Wild Card spot (currently held by Toronto, who also has a game in hand) and nine back of the Bruins for third in the Atlantic. 

Here are the Eastern Conference teams playing tonight (only Sharks-Canucks doesn't feature a team from the East):

Devils @ Capitals - 7 p.m.

Rangers @ Bruins - 7 p.m.

Panthers @ Flyers - 7 p.m.

Wild @ Blue Jackets 7 p.m.

Predators @ Canadiens - 7:30 p.m.

Avalanche @ Senators - 7:30 p.m.

Islanders @ Stars - 8:30 p.m.

Maple Leafs @ Kings - 10:30 p.m.


On tap today

Full morning skate coverage will be coming your way. Who's in goal? (Probably Robin Lehner, but we'll let you know.) What will the lines looks like? (Well, Dan Bylsma shook them up yesterday so we'll see.) What tie will Brian Duff wear tonight? (You'll probably have to wait for the pregame show to find that out.)

Also today, we'll have a blog from Lauren Hall and a recap of last weekend's Road Crew party from Denver.


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