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Sharpen Up: October 25, 2016

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

Say hello to Anders Nilsson. He'll be in net tonight when the Sabres take on the Flyers in the City of Brotherly Love. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN and WGR 550.

Here's what you need to know.

It'll be Nilsson's first regular-season game for the Sabres. Robin Lehner is out with an illness (Linus Ullmark has been called up to serve as the backup), but based on the schedule, Nilsson would've gotten some time in the crease at some point soon anyways. So why not tonight? 

Video: BYLSMA: After Practice

Buffalo had the luxury of a few days off between games, but they're right back into the fire now. Tonight marks the first game of a four-games-in-six-nights stretch. When you look at the upcoming schedule, the Sabres seem to be playing every other day. So we're going to be busy.

And so are the goaltenders. Nilsson had a strong training camp for the Sabres that included a 23-save shutout performance in a preseason game against Toronto.  

Buffalo acquired the 6-foot-6, 229-pound Swedish netminder from the St. Louis Blues in July in exchange for a 2017 fifth-round pick. In 52 career NHL games, he's posted a 19-22-4 record with a .900 save percentage and a 3.09 goals-against average. A bulk of those games came last year when he split time between Edmonton and St. Louis (He went 10-3-3- with a .901 save percentage and a 3.12 goals-against average in 29 games).

How does he feel about the opportunity? Brian Duff checked in with him.

Video: Sabres in :90 (10/24/16)

 Goalie coach Andrew Allen filled in during practice yesterday. He made it through the entire workout unscathed.

Video: ALLEN: After Practice

Mixing and matching

In yesterday's Ice Level Practice Report, our very own Jourdon LaBarber talked to Sam Reinhart about his move back to center and the opportunity to play on a line with Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons.  

There was also a switch when it came to the defensive pairings. Dan Bylsma moved Dmitry Kulikov up to play with Zach Bogosian, which then paired up Jake McCabe with Cody Franson.  

"I want to get Kulikov on the ice in more situations and more opportunities," Bylsma said. "That paring of Josh Gorges and [Rasmus Ristolainen], while it's not together 100 percent of the time during the last four games, has been strong in the matchup pairings. Getting Dmitry more ice time, I think he needs it, deserves and we need him to have it."

Through three games played, Kulikov has averaged 20:07 of total ice time, third-most among Sabres defensemen. McCabe (20:20) and the ice hog that is Risto (24:53) are ahead of him. That said, almost all of Kulikov's average ice time is coming at even strength (17:45's worth). He's averaging just 45 seconds of power-play time, but look for that to increase as he's been working in practice this week with the power-play units. 


On tap today

It's a gameday, so we'll have our Morning Skate Report from Jourdy Nelson and a vide preview from Duffer. And stick with us after the game for highlights, game recaps (written and video - Duffer is on the trip after all!) and locker room interviews.

Also, on today, look for our weekly Amerks Update. We touched on it a bit yesterday, but Rochester had a good weekend and they've got a pair of games in St. John's this weekend. 


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