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Preview: Sabres square-off with Penguins in regular season opener

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The Buffalo Sabres will head to Pittsburgh to open the 2019-20 season

Pittsburgh Penguins v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Sara Schmidle/NHLI via Getty Images

Game 1

Buffalo Sabres vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM | PPG Paints Arena | Pittsburgh, PA

TV: MSG

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.

Game Prediction

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

Forwards

Victor Olofsson - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart

Jeff Skinner - Marcus Johansson - Vladimir Sobotka

Jimmy Vesey - Casey Mittelstadt - Conor Sheary

Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Kyle Okposo

Defense

Rasmus Dahlin - Colin Miller

Jake McCabe - Rasmus Ristolainen

Marco Scandella - Henri Jokiharju

Starting Goaltender: Carter Hutton

Projected Lineup - Penguins

Forwards

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

Defense

Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang

Jack Johnson - Justin Schultz

Marcus Pettersson - Erik Gudbranson

Starting Goaltender: Matt Murray