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Sharpen Up: October 18, 2016

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

Buffalo will go for back-to-back wins tonight when they face Calgary tonight at Scotiabank Saddledome. The Tops Gamenight pregame show begins at 8:30 p.m. and the puck is scheduled to drop just after 9. 

Here's what you need to know.

The team practiced in Calgary yesterday and the lineup looked pretty similar, but with a few new wrinkles. 

Brian Duff looked at the distribution of ice time amongst the defensive corps in Sunday's win. 

Marvel at this balance:
Rasmus Ristolainen: 26:43 (5:51 PP / 1:16 PK)
Jake McCabe: 19:24 (1:33 PP / 0:40 PK)
Dmitry Kulikov: 19:11 (0:11 PP / 1:16 PK)
Zach Bogosian: 19:02 (0:11 PP / 0:40 PK)
Josh Gorges: 15:44
Cody Franson: 14:22 (1:33 PP)

Gorges lauded the depth of the top six at the start of training camp and his talk was backed up with the 6-2 win over Edmonton, in which they held Connor McDavid to no points and one shot on goal. 

"That's the way our team's going to be and I think that's a huge bonus - to have the ability to do that, to roll six D no matter what the matchups may be," Gorges said Monday after practice.

Video: Sabres in :90 (10/17/16)

When it comes to those wrinkles at forward, here are the lines and pairings from yesterday. 

23 Sam Reinhart - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
82 Marcus Foligno - 22 Johan Larsson - 12 Brian Gionta
63 Tyler Ennis - 27 Derek Grant - 26 Matt Moulson
44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 52 Hudson Fasching / 73 Nicholas Baptiste

4 Josh Gorges - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
29 Jake McCabe - 47 Zach Bogosian
77 Dmitry Kulikov - 46 Cody Franson
34 Casey Nelson

40 Robin Lehner
31 Anders Nilsson

We talked a little bit about the Foligno-Larsson-Gionta line yesterday in Sharpen Up, but Jourdon LaBarber dug a lot deeper yesterday. Here's his story on how the line has been able to generate offense while focusing on their defensive responsibilities.

Here's Dan Bylsma from after practice yesterday.

Video: BYLSMA: After Practice

Lehner will start in goal against Chad Johnson. 


Another milestone for Rip


Tonight will mark equipment manager Rip Simonick's 3,500th game in the NHL. He's been with the team since 1970 (he's the longest-tenured equipment manager in the league) and has seen it all. 

I had the chance to talk to him about his career when he was inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame back in 2014. He's without a doubt one of the greats. 


Trick or Treat

With Halloween approaching, there are two great opportunities for kids to get in the spooky spirit.

In Rochester on Friday, the Amerks will be hosting their annual Sweets in the Suites night. Kids tickets are just $10.  

And on Saturday, there will be a skate at KeyBank Center, but the only way to be a part of it is to be a Premium Member of the SabreKidz Club. Check here for more details.


On tap today

Full pregame coverage will be coming your way with a written report from Jourdon and a video preview from Duffer. The Sabres will take the ice for their morning skate at 1:30 p.m. ET. Then after the game, we'll have postgame recaps, highlights and locker room interviews.

Also on today, we'll have a recap of the week that was for the Rochester Americans. 

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