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Sharpen Up: September 27, 2019

All the Sabres news you need to know heading into the weekend

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

Today, the Sabres will hold their final practice of training camp. It begins at 11 a.m. at LECOM Harborcenter and it's free and open to the public.

The team will travel to Pittsburgh on Saturday to play their last preseason game. It's a 4 p.m. faceoff against the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena. You can watch the action via AT&T Sports' feed of the game on MSG. Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray will have the call on WGR 550. 

Here's what you need to know. 


Cozens heading back to Lethbridge

After an impressive training camp, first-round pick Dylan Cozens was assigned to the Lethbridge Hurricanes, his junior club in the WHL. 

Cozens played in three of four preseason games for Buffalo. While he didn't record a point in any of those games, the 18-year-old left an extremely positive impression on the organization. 

From yesterday's practice report…

Video: Ralph Krueger after Thursday's practice

"This decision today is about the development and the future of an outstanding young man and athlete," Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger said. "… Here, we thought his first week was as he should be, a bit tentative and he was watching. But in the second, he really grew up and became a part of what we were doing. 

"We're just very confident that this is the right move for Dylan and his future and I'm excited about coaching him again in the near future.

"… We believe he goes away from here a better player than he was when we drafted him and we believe he's going to come back and make a very hard push for being a part of this team next year."

Cozens recorded 84 points (34+50) in 68 games for the Hurricanes last season and will look to build on that strong campaign. 

Following up on Johansson's first preseason home game

Marcus Johansson signed a two-year contract with Buffalo in the summer and the nine-year veteran scored the overtime winner in Wednesday's preseason game against Columbus.

At practice on Thursday, he found himself again on a line with Jeff Skinner on his left wing.

"Sometimes you don't realize until you play with someone how well they see the ice or how well they think the game," Skinner said after practice on Thursday. "It's tough to watch someone on another team or play against someone and pick that up. That's been a nice surprise."

The Sabres are working to establish a style under Krueger that places responsibility on players to act instinctively within the confines of a defined set of principles. They hope to be connected in a way that allows players to know each other's whereabouts in all three zones, which in turn should promote speed up the ice.

In that sense, the repetitions Skinner and Johansson are being given late in camp should be beneficial as they learn each other's tendencies. 

"It's different for everyone," Skinner said. "Sometimes it takes a little longer. Sometimes it's a little quicker chemistry. For him, the way he plays is naturally going to speed up that process. I think he probably finds chemistry with guys pretty quickly. Hopefully we can play well together."

Read even more on that in yesterday's practice report.

Injury update

Video: Sabres in 50: Larsson, Sheary return

One more thing from practice…  

Johan Larsson and Conor Sheary both returned to practice from their respective injuries with the hopes of playing in the team's preseason finale in Pittsburgh on Saturday. 

Krueger detailed what he saw from the two forwards prior to their injuries and what he believes they can add to the mix going forward.

"We see Johan as a stabilizing type of player that's consistent with what we need to do especially without the puck and on the PK, and also add to the offense," he said. "We'd like to push him in the direction.

"Sheary should bring that element of surprise and work into any line that he's in and also add clearly to the offense. We like to see players who can work hard in both directions and we see Conor as one of those."

Amerks in Buffalo tonight

The Rochester Americans dropped their first preseason game last night against Syracuse, but they'll be back at it against the Toronto Marlies at LECOM Harborcenter tonight.

Tonight's game opens up a home-and-home with the Marlies. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale now.

The matchup will mark the first meeting between the two teams since Game 3 of the North Division Semifinals in April when Toronto earned a 3-1 win over the Amerks to complete the first-round sweep. 

Rochester will conclude its preseason slate Sunday at Ray Twinney Complex as the series with the Marlies shifts north of the border at 4 p.m.

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