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Sharpen Up: September 23, 2016

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

Maybe you've heard: #SabresCamp is open. 

A few players met with the media yesterday to talk about their summers and their expectations for the upcoming season. Overall, everyone seemed pretty upbeat based on how the team finished last season (They capped off the 2015-16 season with 47 points in their final 41 games, a pace that - if maintained over 82 games - would have put them in a playoff position). 

But it's a new season with raised expectations. The team is officially taking the ice together for the first time today at HarborCenter. And how do the line combinations and defensive pairings look during these first sessions? Let's take a look at Friday's groups.

63 Tyler Ennis - 22 Johan Larsson - 21 Kyle Okposo
71 Evan Rodrigues - 19 Cal O'Reilly - 56 Justin Bailey
48 William Carrier - 17 Vasily Glotov - 52 Hudson Fasching
42 Justin Kea

29 Jake McCabe - 6 Cody Franson
46 Justin Falk - 38 Taylor Fedun
54 Brycen Martin - 79 Vojtech Budik

40 Robin Lehner
33 Jason Kasdorf

9 Evander Kane - 23 Sam Reinhart - 70 Alexander Nylander
10 Cole Schneider - 27 Derek Grant - 74 Vaclav Karabacek
86 Eric Cornel - 72 Jean Dupuy - 65 Daniel Muzito-Bagenda  
59 Cliff Pu

81 Mac Bennett - 47 Zach Bogosian
45 Brendan Guhle - 34 Casey Nelson
51 Austin Osmanski

31 Anders Nilsson
60 John Muse

82 Marcus Foligno - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 20 Daniel Catenacci - 26 Matt Moulson
13 Brandon Hagel - 37 Giorgio Estephan - 78 Nicholas Baptiste

4 Josh Gorges - 5 Erik Burgdoerfer
57 Brady Austin - 41 Devante Stephens
3 Paul Geiger - 24 Tyson Strachan

35 Linus Ullmark

Keep in mind some of these combinations, which may raise an eyebrow or two, are a result of Ryan O'Reilly, Jack Eichel, Dmitry Kulikov and Rasmus Ristolainen being absent because they are competing at the World Cup of Hockey. 

If you're looking to come and watch these open practices, here's the schedule for the weekend. All practices are at HarborCenter.

Friday, Sept. 23
Session 1: 9 - 9:45 a.m. (New Wave Energy Rink)
Scrimmage: 9:50 - 10:35 a.m. (KeyBank Rink)
Session 2: 10:40 - 11:25 a.m. (New Wave Energy Rink)
Session 3: 12:50 - 2 p.m. (KeyBank Rink)

Saturday, Sept. 24
Session 1: 9 - 9:45 a.m. (New Wave Energy Rink)
Scrimmage: 9:50 - 10:35 a.m. (KeyBank Rink)
Session 2: 10:40 - 11:25 a.m. (New Wave Energy Rink)
Session 3: 12:50 - 2 p.m. (KeyBank Rink)

Sunday, Sept. 25
Session 1: 9 - 9:45 a.m. (New Wave Energy Rink)
Scrimmage: 9:50 - 10:35 a.m. (KeyBank Rink)
Session 2: 10:40 - 11:25 a.m. (New Wave Energy Rink)
Session 3: 12:50 - 2 p.m. (KeyBank Rink)


Video Replay

Curious as to what the players had to say yesterday? Jourdon LaBarber has you covered. Here are some of the big takeaways from the first day of training camp.

Brian Duff caught up with Tyler Ennis and even surprised him with…well, you'll just have to watch to find out.

Video: Ennis goes 1-on-1 with Duffer

Another highly recommended interview from yesterday? Robin Lehner's. He was sidelined for most of last summer due to a concussion and wasn't able to train the way he would have liked. But the 25-year-old goaltender looks like a new man now after he spent the offseason intensely working out.

Video: Lehner tells the media that 'It's a big year for me'

Kyle Okposo, Buffalo's big free agent signing, is getting acclimated to his new surroundings and can't wait to kick things off.

Video: Okposo talks on his first day at Sabres camp

Ennis, captain Brian Gionta, Sam Reinhart, Evander Kane and Josh Gorges also stepped up to the podium to field the media's questions. All of those interviews can be found on The Players channel


Scoreboard Watching

The semifinal games for the World Cup of Hockey are set. 

Team North America a.k.a. Everyone's Favorite Team To Watch At The World Cup was eliminated from the tournament when Russia beat Finland yesterday. Expect Eichel back at Sabres camp sooner rather than later. 

With that win, Kulikov and the Russian squad earn the right to play O'Reilly and Team Canada in a single-elimination game Saturday night at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.

In the other semifinal game, Sweden will face Europe on Sunday at 1 p.m. on ESPN. The winners will square off in a best-of-three final starting Tuesday. 


On Tap Today (And This Weekend)    

We'll hear from Dan Bylsma for the first time this training camp and we'll find out what he's looking for in these practice sessions.

Jourdon will have a written story of the day's events and Duffer will have a video piece you should be on the lookout for.

And before training camp opened, Sam Reinhart and Jake McCabe took it to the streets to play some hockey with a few local kids. Lauren Hall will have that for you later this morning. will have coverage of training camp all weekend too. Sharpen Up will return Monday, where we'll start to get you ready for that night's preseason game against the Wild in Happy Valley. In the meantime, we hope to see you at HarborCenter.

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