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Sharpen Up: October 24, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

Tonight, the Sabres will look to build off Saturday's thrilling comeback win in Boston when they face the Detroit Red Wings at KeyBank Center. 

Great seats are still available so come on down or catch the game on NBCSN at 7:30 for puck drop. You can also turn down the volume on your TV and listen to Dan and Rayzor call the action on WGR 550.

Stay tuned with through the morning skate for any lineup news and other noteworthy storylines. 

Here's what you need to know.


Looking to turn the tides of history

From the Game Notes, where @SabresPR does the dirty work in the corners…

The Sabres enter tonight's game with three consecutive wins against Detroit for the first time since Buffalo swept the three-game season series in 1988-89.

A win tonight would give the Sabres their first four-game winning streak against the Red Wings since the team won five in a row from Feb. 6, 1981 to Jan. 6, 1982.

With a 3-0-1 record in their last four meetings against the Red Wings, the Sabres are seeking their first five-game point streak against Detroit since the team went 3-0-2 in their meetings with the Red Wings from Jan. 2, 1986 to Dec. 23, 1987.

A win tonight would give Buffalo wins in consecutive home games against Detroit for the first time since the team won three straight from Dec. 28, 1988 to Dec. 26, 1989.

A win overtime loss would give the Sabres points in three straight home games against the Red Wings for the first time since they went 4-0-1 at home against Detroit from Dec. 28, 1988 to Jan. 16, 1991.

Yesterday's practice

The Sabres were back on the ice for practice on Monday following a day off on Sunday. Jourdon has a story on Marco Scandella's contributions to the offense. More here.

After missing all of the preseason as he worked his way back from offseason hip surgery, Scandella's shot attempts have risen steadily through his first nine games as a Sabre, coming to a head with a season-high eight attempts and a team-high six shots on goal in Boston on Saturday. 

With that performance, he's now averaging 2.2 shots per game. His career-high for a full season is 1.8, set in 2014-15. He's averaging 3.4 shot attempts, up from his average of 2.8 last season. 

It's early, of course. But if Phil Housley has his way, then those numbers will only progress, both for Scandella and his defensive corps as a whole.

"He's been a big part of our D corps back there," Housley said. "I think just the D in general have done a good job, and that was the best game [when it comes to] movement and finding lanes. They had 13 shots on goal … That's key to me that they're improving in that area."

Duffer took a look at Kyle Okposo's improved play and tweaks to the power play in Sabres Now:

Video: Sabres Now (10/23/17)

 Buffalo continues to battle injuries to up and down the lineup. Zemgus Girgensons (lower body), Justin Falk (undisclosed), Evan Rodrigues (hand), Zach Bogosian (lower body), Josh Gorges (lower body) and Jacob Josefson (lower body) all again did not practice. 

A silver lining? Girgensons, Falk and Rodrigues have begun skating on their own. 

Video: After Practice: HOUSLEY

Here are the line combinations and defensive pairings from practice:

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

6 Marco Scandella - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
19 Jake McCabe - 5 Matt Tennyson / 27 Taylor Fedun
93 Victor Antipin - 38 Zach Redmond

40 Robin Lehner
31 Chad Johnson


The Red Wings, meanwhile, are going to try to shake off a 4-1 loss to the Canucks on Sunday. Defenseman Mike Green leads the team in scoring with 11 points (1+10). Henrik Zetterberg (4+5) and Dylan Larkin (1+8) each have nine points thus far. 

Pu signs entry-level deal

The Sabres signed forward Cliff Pu to a three-year, entry-level contract yesterday afternoon.

Pu (6'2", 192 lbs., 6/3/1998) finished the 2016-17 season ranked eighth among all OHL skaters with 86 points (35+51) in 63 games for the London Knights. He has totaled 132 points (52+80) in 178 career OHL regular season games for London and the Oshawa Generals, including six points (1+5) so far in the 2017-18 season. The North York, Ontario native has recorded 20 points (10+10) in 37 OHL playoff games.

Buffalo's third-round selection (69th overall) in the 2016 NHL Draft, Pu was a member of the London team that won the J. Ross Robertson Cup as OHL champions in 2016 and also helped the team to a 2016 Memorial Cup championship.

He could also be a favorite to make Team Canada's World Junior Championship team, which will take place in Buffalo in December.

For more on Pu and the other prospects in the system check out Kris Baker's Sabres Prospects Report. 

Road Crew update

Larry Playfair has been added to our roster of alumni you can hang out with at our Road Crew event in Dallas on Nov. 3. 

The Road Crew event, presented by Delta Air Lines with supporting sponsor Dave & Adam's, will take place at Parlay Sports Club (3309 McKinney Ave., Dallas, TX 75204) from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 each, with all proceeds benefiting the Buffalo Sabres Foundation. Click here for tickets.

Fans attending the event will get the opportunity to meet Playfair, Rene Robert, Danny Gare and Rob Ray. The event will also include drink specials, Sabres trivia, giveaways, raffles and much more. Dave & Adam's will also be raffling off merchandise from their Jack Eichel Collection, which will include items signed by Eichel. Everyone who purchases a ticket will receive an official Sabres Road Crew credential and lanyard.

As part of the Road Crew program this season, Delta will again be sponsoring the "Fly You Home" promotion. Every fan who attends the event will have a chance to win two round-trip tickets home to Buffalo and two tickets to see the Sabres play at KeyBank Center during the 2017-18 season.

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