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Sharpen Up: November 14, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak / Sabres.com

It's another game night as Buffalo is in Pittsburgh for a match against the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena. The Sabres are seeking their first win in Pittsburgh since winning in both visits during the 2012-13 season.

We'll have web coverage for you here as Jourdon and Dan are on the scene for the morning skate. Tune in to the GMC Game Night pregame show starting at 6:30 p.m. on MSG with Duffer and Marty. Then RJ and Rayzor will call the action at 7 on MSG and WGR 550.

Here's what you need to know.

If there was ever a time to break out of that slump in Pittsburgh, now could be it. From @SabresPR's Game Notes

  • Jason Pominville has tallied at least one point in each of his last seven road games against the Penguins, totaling eight points (2+6) in those games.

 

  • Evander Kane enters tonight's game with nine goals in his first 17 games played this season. With a goal tonight, Kane would be off to the quickest start to career, topping his mark of 10 goals in his first 22 games in 2011-12.
  • Kane's nine goals this season tied him for 11th in the NHL entering play Monday.
  • Since scoring his first goal of the 2016-17 season on Dec. 3, 2016, Kane has scored 37 goals in 75 games. Entering play Monday, those 37 goals tied for fifth-most in the league during that span and his 30 even-strength goals ranked second.
  • He also has nine points (3+6) in nine career visits to Pittsburgh, including seven points (2+5) in the last three.

 

  • Matt Moulson has a point in each of his three road games against Pittsburgh since the beginning of the 2015-16 season, totaling two goals and an assist.
  • Ryan O'Reilly has tallied seven points (3+4) in his last seven games against the Penguins.
  • Kyle Okposo has more goals (14) and points (31) against the Penguins than any other opponent.
  • Ryan O'Reilly has 12 points (6+6) in his last 12 games. He's also totaled 15 points (6+9) in his last 15 road games dating back to last season, including 11 points (5+6) in 10 road games this season.


A look at yesterday's practice

Video: Sabres Now (11/13/17)

From the Ice Level Practice Report, where the team focused on executing long line changes…

Second periods are an area in which the Buffalo Sabres have struggled this season, having been outscored 23-15 in the period through 17 games. It may seem circumstantial, but there is one key difference to the second period as opposed to the first and third: the long line change.

Sabres coach dedicated Phil Housley dedicated time to improving the team's changes when they returned to practice at KeyBank Center on Monday afternoon.

"I think our line changes have got to be a little bit sharper," Housley said. "Not just the change part - our lengths of shift can come down - but also when we dump it in, having a plan and a balance coming into that forecheck so teams aren't able to quick it up against us or get through the neutral zone quickly. That was the mindset behind that drill."

Video: After Practice: HOUSLEY

Part of improving their line changes, according to defenseman Josh Gorges, is as simple as players increasing the urgency with which they skate to the bench. The quicker the next player can get on the ice, the better chance the Sabres have of hemming their opponent in the defensive zone as opposed to getting quick outlets for breakouts.

Another aspect is the timing of when to change. 

"I think more importantly, it's changing at the right times," Gorges said. "We want to be changing when we're putting the pucks toward their end so we can get out and continue to forecheck. If we're changing when the puck's coming back, we're really hurting everybody else, the guys who are on the ice and the guys who are coming on the ice."


Here's how they practiced…

9 Evander Kane - 15 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
67 Benoit Pouliot - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
26 Matt Moulson - 22 Johan Larsson - 29 Jason Pominville
17 Jordan Nolan - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 13 Nicholas Baptiste
95 Justin Bailey - 25 Seth Griffith

19 Jake McCabe - 27 Taylor Fedun
93 Victor Antipin - 41 Justin Falk
4 Josh Gorges - 82 Nathan Beaulieu

Marco Scandella did not practice because he felt under the weather, but Housley expects him to be ready for tonight.

The team assigned Justin Bailey to the Amerks before they left for Pittsburgh. We'll have more on the happenings in Rochester later today. They play tomorrow night at home against Binghamton. That game will be shown locally on MSG.


Congratulations, Dave Andreychuk

Here's our feature on him from yesterday and here's his Hockey Hall of Fame induction speech from last night:

Video: Dave Andreychuk on entering the Hockey Hall of Fame

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