Puck Drop: 7:00 PM | PPG Paints Arena | Pittsburgh, PA
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Penguins Blog: Pensburgh
What to Watch
1. New year, New Faces (Sort Of)
While many of the same players from last season have returned for the 2019-20 campaign, several new members of the organization will skate in their first meaningful contest with the team. Marcus Johansson, Colin Miller, Jimmy Vesey, and Henri Jokiharju will all make their regular season debuts with the blue-and-gold tonight in Pittsburgh.
It will be interesting to see how new head coach Ralph Krueger implements his system (and adjusts it accordingly), between the returning veterans, and the new additions.
2. A Fresh Slate (For Better or Worse)
Based on the reported line rushes from practice, it appears that Krueger is giving everyone a fresh slate as he continues to assess his lineup. That theory is evidenced by the fact that a player like Vladimir Sobotka, who struggled mightily last season under Phil Housley, will apparently have a shot next to Johansson and Jeff Skinner on the second line.
The same can be said for Marco Scandella, a player who also put forth his fair-share of lackluster efforts in 2018-19. He’s found himself in the defensive top-six yet again, this time beside Jokiharju on the third pairing. We’ll see if Krueger is able to help the less-than-optimal veterans from last season turn things around under his guidance.
A new addition to our previews will be a win percentage chart from Jason Moser’s model that was fairly accurate last season in game predictions.
Projected Lineup - Sabres
Victor Olofsson - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart
Jeff Skinner - Marcus Johansson - Vladimir Sobotka
Jimmy Vesey - Casey Mittelstadt - Conor Sheary
Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Kyle Okposo
Rasmus Dahlin - Colin Miller
Jake McCabe - Rasmus Ristolainen
Marco Scandella - Henri Jokiharju
Starting Goaltender: Carter Hutton
Projected Lineup - Penguins
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Alex Galchenyuk - Evgeni Malkin - Brandon Tanev
Jared McCann - Nick Bjugstad - Dominik Kahun
Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Dominik Simon
Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang
Jack Johnson - Justin Schultz
Marcus Pettersson - Erik Gudbranson
Starting Goaltender: Matt Murray