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Sharpen Up: October 20, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

We're back home! The Sabres host the Vancouver Canucks tonight at KeyBank Center in their first home game since Oct. 9. Last night, the Canucks lost 6-3 in Boston.

Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. with Dan and Rayzor on the call, and you can check out the GMC Game Night pregame show with Duffer and Marty starting at 6:30 on MSG. 

Even better? Come down to the arena and catch the action. Great seats and Family Packs for the game are still available.

Here's what you need to know.


Roster moves

The Sabres called up defenseman Taylor Fedun from the Rochester Americans this morning. 

Fedun has one assist in three games with the Americans this season after signing a two-year contract extension with the Sabres in June. He appeared in 27 NHL games during the 2016-17 season, recording a career-high seven points (0+7).

Why Fedun? The Sabres were missing seven players at yesterday's practice. Robin Lehner, Zemgus Girgensons, Josh Gorges, Jacob Josefson, Zach Bogosian, Justin Falk and Evan Rodrigues did not skate. This morning, Josefson joined Bogosian, Falk and Rodrugues on the injured reserve list. 

Here's how the team practiced yesterday:

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

Defense: 6 Marco Scandella, 55 Rasmus Ristolainen, 19 Jake McCabe, 82 Nathan Beaulieu, 5 Matt Tennyson, 93 Victor Antipin

31 Chad Johnson

The Sabres are looking for better starts and it begins wth both mental and physical preparation long before opening faceoff. Check out the Ice Level Practice Report for more on that. Here's a sampling:

When it comes to looking back at the Buffalo Sabres' loss in Vegas on Tuesday, Phil Housley said there's a difference between dwelling on the past and learning from it. Thus practice on Thursday ended on a lighthearted note, with fill-in goaltender Ryan Vinz called upon to break the huddle at center ice (more on him here in Sabres Now).

Video: Sabres Now (10/19/17) 

At the same time, Housley maintained that the Sabres need to be aware of what hampered them in their game against the Golden Knights, one that saw them struggle through two periods before finally erasing a three-goal deficit in an eventual overtime loss. 

Video: HOUSLEY: After Practice

"I think it's just how you prepare," Housley said. "You look at our situation, we had a day off in Vegas. Sometimes you decompress as a player and you've got to get yourself geared up for the battle again at the start of the game. I think that lacked. A switch went off. 

"We got fired up for the third period, we got a point."

Prior to the loss in Vegas, the Sabres had been proud of the way they began their last two games in Los Angeles and Anaheim. In those two periods, they controlled the pace of play on their way to outshooting opponents a combined 23-17 and outscoring them 2-0.

The next step is to do that consistently, which players said begins at an individual level.

"Everyone's different," alternate captain Ryan O'Reilly said. "Some guys can do things a lot quicker than others. It depends on the guy. You've got to find your own way to get going and find what we need to do. But yeah, I think we need to start better and I think that's to a man."

From the Game Notes

If he dresses, tonight will by Kyle Okposo's 600th NHL game. Okposo has nine points (1+8) in nine career games against the Canucks.

Chad Johnson is 1-0-1 in two career starts against the Canucks (both last season) with a .940 save percentage and a 0.96 goals-against average

The home team has won 12 of the last 15 games between these teams, including five of the last six.

The Canucks have only won twice in their seven visits Buffalo since 2003 and are looking for consecutive wins in Buffalo for the first time since March 3 and Dec. 4, 1996.

The Sabres need a win tonight to avoid losing four straight matchups with the Canucks for the first time since the team lost six straight from March 10, 1991 to March 1, 1993.

Back to back

Tonight's game opens up Buffalo's second of 16 sets of back-to-back games this season, which continues tomorrow night at Boston. 

The Sabres are 0-1-0 in the first game of back-to-back sets and 1-0-0 in the second game so far this season. Buffalo's point breakdown in previous back-to-back sets is: four points (0), three points (0), two points (1), one point (0) and zero points (0).

(Thanks to @SabresPR!)

On tap today

We'll have written and video coverage of the morning skate so stay tuned for all of that. Who's in? Who's out? Duffer and Jourdon will have all the answers. 

That'll lead you into the pregame show and then stick around for postgame coverage here on  

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