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Sharpen Up: November 28, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak / Sabres.com

It's another game night in Buffalo as the Sabres host the Tampa Bay Lightning at KeyBank Center. Both teams have been off since Saturday - Buffalo was shut out in Montreal while Tampa lost 5-2 in Pittsburgh.

Here's what you need to know.

 

From Monday's practice

Video: Sabres Now (11/27/17)

Rasmus Ristolainen returned to the lineup last weekend and immediately made his presence known. He skated a game-high 27:32, blocked two shots and picked up a pair of assists. 

The blue line could get another boost tonight if Zach Bogosian is cleared to play. He's considered a game-time decision after participating in yesterday's practice. He's missed all 24 games this season with a lower-body injury. 

Offense from the defensive corps was the focus of yesterday's Ice Level Practice Report, and a healthy Bogosian could certainly provide a boost in that regard, especially in coach Phil Housley's system…

When Phil Housley was brought in to coach the Sabres, he came with the expectation that the team's defensemen would factor heavily into its offense. Housley was credited with aiding the development of players like Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis as an assistant coach in Nashville, both of whom were key cogs in a defense corps that helped lead the Predators to the Stanley Cup Final last season. 

In that sense, it might come as a surprise that the Sabres have yet to receive a goal from one of their defensemen now 24 games into their season. Ask Marco Scandella, however, and he'll tell you there are a set of factors that suggest those goals are coming. 

"It's definitely coming," Scandella said. "We've been shooting the puck. We've just got to keep doing that. Forwards are going in front of the net too, blocking the goalie's vision, but we haven't gotten lucky yet. It's been a bad stretch for that but as soon as they start going in it's going to open the floodgates, in my opinion. We're going to be scoring a bunch."

Video: After Practice: HOUSLEY

"The thing is, our D are trying to get pucks through," Housley said. "In this league, there's not only the first layer but you've got a second layer of [shot blockers] so you've got to do things quicker. I'd like to see our D continue to work on trying to find that shot lane and deliver the puck a lot quicker so that teams can't get into the shot lane."

 

Roster updates

Housley announced that forward Jacob Josefson will miss four to six weeks with an ankle injury after not returning for the second period in Montreal on Saturday. Josefson had scored a goal and an assist in two contests since returning from a prior injury that forced him to miss 15 games. 

Seth Griffith also cleared waivers and was assigned to the Amerks. 

"I think he certainly had a really good opportunity," Housley said. "He's really a gifted scorer, talented and very fast. A lot of the games when he had opportunities to really take a hard look and he had open ice to make a play or shoot the puck, he was almost looking to pass. Obviously when you're not doing well you're going to make changes."

With Josefson out and Griffith in Rochester, the Sabres are without an extra forward on their NHL roster. Housley did not rule out a recall prior to Tuesday's game against Tampa Bay, but Matt Moulson practiced both on the fourth line and on the power play on Monday. 

Housley said Moulson will be a game-time decision against the Lightning.


Coming up today

Stay tuned for full morning skate coverage as we'll let you know who's likely in and who's likely out tonight. 

We'll also have a Dan Dunleavy blog for you later today.

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