Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Buffalo Sabres

Sharpen Up: March 20, 2017

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

It's a game night for the Buffalo Sabres in Detroit, and we'll have two new faces on the back end. 

With Taylor Fedun and Cody Franson both unable to play due to injuries - joining a list of injured defensemen that already included Dmitry Kulikov and Justin Falk - the team recalled Brady Austin and Casey Nelson to join the lineup against the Red Wings. 

It will be the final game for the Sabres at Joe Louis Arena, and will be nationally televised on NBCSN with puck drop scheduled for 7:30 p.m. You can hear Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray on the call on WGR 550. 

Here's what you need to know.


About the recalls

It's the first career recall for Austin, a seventh-round pick by the Sabres in 2012. He has nine points (2+7) in 61 games for Rochester this season, his third as a pro. 

Nelson, meanwhile, began this season in Buffalo after impressing in his short stint with the team to end last season. He's averaged 11:00 of ice time in nine NHL games this season, with his most recent appearance having come in an overtime win at Montreal on Jan. 21.

"I think his best games were last year playing for us," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said prior to the game. "We see a good skating, smooth guy, a head-up, good first-pass guy who has a real good offensive hockey instinct and that's what you saw from him in training camp as well."

In 45 AHL games this season, Nelson has four goals and nine assists for 13 points. 

Of course, injuries on the blue line might also mean an increased workload for Rasmus Ristolainen, as Chris Ryndak reported from practice at HarborCenter on Sunday. He wrote:

The burden of playing heavy minutes has been placed Ristolainen all season and the team will likely lean on him even more because of the recent crop of injuries. 

He's topped the 30-minute plateau twice in the past four games, skating 30:02 on Friday. He's been at or above 30 minutes eight times this season, with his highest total coming on Jan. 20 against Detroit, when he played 35:24.

At 27:01, he's fourth in the NHL in average time on ice per game, behind only Dustin Byfuglien (27:24), Drew Doughty (27:16) and Ryan Suter (27:04).

You can read the full report, with comments from Bylsma and Ristolainen, here. 

Also, check out Brian Duff's report from practice in the video below.

Video: Sabres in :90 (03/19/17)


From the notes

The Sabres won the first five games they played at the Joe, from Feb. 16, 1980 to Dec. 12, 1981. Since then, they haven't won two in a row, which is something they can accomplish with a win tonight. Evander Kane's two goals led the Sabres to victory in their last game in Detroit, on Dec. 28.

Speaking of Ristolainen, he might miss Joe Louis Arena as much as anyone. The defenseman has eight assists in his last eight games against Detroit, including six in his last four at the Joe. Also, here's this from @SabresPR:

Gilbert Perreault is the Sabres' all-time leading scorer at Joe Louis Arena with 14 points (8+6) in 10 games. With a point tonight, Rasmus Ristolainen would tie Danny Gare and Pierre Turgeon for fifth on the franchise list with seven points.


Also from the game notes, here's who's hot on the Sabres:

Jack Eichel has not gone two games without a point since Jan. 31 and Feb. 2. In the 22 games since, 
Eichel has totaled 28 points (8+20). 

Ryan O'Reilly has recorded nine points (4+5) in his last 10 games. 

Jake McCabe has recorded seven (2+5) of his 18 points in his last 11 games, averaging 21:31 of ice time per game during that stretch. 

Robin Lehner has stopped 95 of 101 shots (.941) in his last three appearances.

On Tap

We'll have full coverage from Detroit, beginning when the Sabres take the ice for their morning skate at 11:30 a.m. Also keep an eye out for the latest Sabres Prospects Report from Kris Baker, which will be posted this afternoon.


View More