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Game 1: Canadiens vs. Sabres Game Preview

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Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the start of the marathon.  The Sabres open up the 2009-10 season against the Montreal Canadiens at HSBC Arena and this time the games actually count.  

The Sabres open up with a major test against a division foe that has basically rebuilt their team after last season's disappointing result.  The Canadiens come into town with seven new players on their roster including the homecoming of Jaroslav Spacek.  Spacek signed a three year, $11.5 million dollar contract at the start of the free agent signing period.  Along with Spacek, the Canadiens added Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, Mike Cammalleri, Hal Gill, Travis Moen, and Paul Mara.  The additions have bolstered their power play unit as well as team toughness.  

The Canadiens have one advantage as they opened the season on Thursday with a 4-3 overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs.  During that game, number one defenseman Andrei Markov was lost for approximately four months with a severed tendon after he got tangled up with goaltender Carey Price late in the third period. 

After the jump, we look at the Sabres and the keys for both of these teams.  

For the Sabres, they introduce a few new players into the lineup with Steve Montador, Mike Grier, and most notably Tyler Myers.  Myers at 6'8" is going to be hard to miss on the ice but as a defenseman his play shouldn't be noticed if he wants to stay in the lineup.  The Sabres have nine games to evaluate Myers before making the decision on whether it is worth using his first year of his entry level contract.  

The Sabres are dealing with their fair share of injuries as the season starts as well.  Forward Adam Mair will miss the first few weeks of the season as he continues to recover from hip surgery that he had just before training camp started.  Also, Toni Lydman will be out for at least this game with a hand injury that he suffered in the final home preseason game against the Maple Leafs and Drew Stafford may miss this game due to a mild concussion he suffered in the preseason.  

Keys to the Game

Sabres:  For the Sabres, the key is to stay out of the penalty box.  Against the Maple Leafs, the Canadiens went 2-for-3 on the powerplay and overall their powerplay unit is going to be dangerous.  With Spacek on the point and Gionta and Cammalleri on the wings, the Canadiens have the firepower to give the penalty killers nightmares.  

Canadiens:  Hit, hit, and well hit some more.  The Sabres showed last season that they were a team that did not like to be hit and were worn down as the opponent continued to be physical in the game.  While the Sabres made some additions that like to hit, the majority of the lineup leans more toward skill rather than physicality. 

Probable Lines

Sabres (from Sabres Edge)

Thomas Vanek-Derek Roy-Tim Connolly

Clarke MacArthur-Tim Kennedy-Jason Pominville

Jochen Hecht-Paul Gaustad-Mike Grier

Patrick Kaleta-Matt Ellis-Stafford

Chris Butler-Craig Rivet

Andrej Sekera-Steve Montador

Henrik Tallinder-Tyler Myers

Game time is at 7pm and will be on MSG, CBC, and RDS.  For those who need something else to get pumped up for this game tonight well check out below: