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Sharpen Up: November 17, 2016

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

We're back in action tonight as the Sabres kick off a four-game homestand at KeyBank Center. It starts when Buffalo takes on the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7 p.m. We'll kick things off with the TOPS Gamenight pregame show at 6:30 p.m. on MSG. RJ and Rayzor have the call.

Here's what you need to know.


From yesterday

Video: Sabres in :90 (11/16/16)

The Sabres did not take the ice yesterday, opting for a team meeting, but Dan Bylsma was able to provide some injury updates. 

Ryan O'Reilly is questionable for tonight's game, but Byslma did not seem too optimistic when it comes to the center's chances of playing tonight. O'Reilly skated on his own yesterday and is making progress. Dmitry Kulikov is "no more than day to day" according to Bylsma while Zach Bogosian, Nicolas Deslauriers and Tyler Ennis are still a few weeks away from returning. 

Jack Eichel's sprained ankle is progressing and he is skating, but it will be some time before he is ready to practice with the team again.


Makin' moves

Buffalo has recalled defenseman Taylor Fedun from the Rochester Americans of the AHL. 

Fedun (6'1", 198 lbs., 6/4/1998) has appeared in 14 games with the Amerks this season, tying for second among AHL defensemen in assists (10) and tying for fourth in points (12). His point total, sparked by a four-point (1+3) output against the Hartford Wolf Pack on Nov. 11 that tied his career high, ranks him third among all Rochester skaters in 2016-17.

Prior to being signed by the Sabres on July 1, 2016, Fedun had tallied more than 30 points in each of his last three AHL seasons. The Edmonton, Alberta native has tallied seven points (2+5) in 12 NHL games during the last three seasons as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks and Edmonton Oilers.

The team sent Casey Nelson down to Rochester yesterday afternoon. He played in the Amerks 3-1 loss to Albany last night, logging four shots and a minus-1 rating. 

500 and 700 clubs

Video: BYLSMA: After Practice

Tonight will mark Bylsma's 500th regular-season NHL game as a head coach. Bylsma becomes the 66th head coach (18th active) to reach this milestone. Among all NHL head coaches with at least 500 games coached, only three have a better career record in the regular season: Bruce Boudreau (417-198-0-81), Scotty Bowman (1,244-573-314-10) and Toe Blake (500-255-159-0).

"It seems like an awful lot at this point in time," Bylsma said of the milestone. "When I got my first opportunity, it was one game at a time and it literally was one game at a time. That's kind of been my approach throughout my time. I saw the milestone in the game notes, but didn't know it was coming until I read it there." 

And if he dresses tonight (as he is expected to), Josh Gorges will appear in his 700th regular-season NHL game. He and Jets forward Chris Thorburn, who can also reach this milestone tonight, would become the 106th and 107th active players to reach 700 games. Thorburn played two games for the Sabres back in 2005 - the first two games of his NHL career.


Tonight's matchup

The Sabres are looking for a win tonight to avoid the team's first three-game regulation losing streak since Jan. 20 to 25 and its first six-game winless streak since Dec. 28, 2015 to Jan. 8, 2016. They're currently on an 0-3-2 skid in which they have only scored five goals. 

With all of the injuries, Bylsma hasn't had the luxury of resting some of his players as much as he'd like.

Rasmus Ristolainen ranked sixth among all NHL skaters in average ice time per game (25:35) entering play Wednesday and was tied for third among all NHL defensemen with six power-play points.

"We've been leaning on them quite a bit right now with the time on ice," Bylsma said after practice yesterday. "Every time I see the time on ice, my words to you all are ringing in my ears from training camp on Ristolainen's minutes on the ice. For the next stretch here, with the injuries we have, we're going to be leaning on those guys pretty heavily." 

The Lightning are dealing with injuries of their own. Captain Steven Stamkos is out indefinitely with a lateral meniscus tear, according to Tampa general manager Steve Yzerman.


On tap today

Full morning skate coverage is coming up here at from Jourdon LaBarber and Dan Dunleavy. And then join Brian Duff and Brad May for the pregame show at 6:30 p.m. on MSG. They're scheduled to have a special guest or two on so it should be a good one.

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