Preview: Sabres face Penguins in preseason opener
Buffalo will hold their first “home game” of the preseason inside the Pegula Ice Arena at Penn State University
Preseason Game 1
Buffalo Sabres (0-0-0) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (0-0-0)
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM | Pegula Ice Arena | University Park, PA
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Penguins Blog: Pensburgh
Know Your Opponent
*Information from the end of the 2018-19 regular season
Record: 44-26-12 (100 PTS)
Division Ranking: 3rd in the Metropolitan Division
Conference Ranking: 6th in the Eastern Conference
PP: 5th (24.6%)
PK: 19th (79.9%)
What to Watch
1. New Year, New Coach, New Approach
While the preseason points projections haven’t exactly been kind to the blue-and-gold this summer, there is a great deal of excitement surrounding Ralph Krueger’s return to the NHL coaching ranks. The last time the eccentric bench boss was behind an NHL bench was in 2013 with the Edmonton Oilers.
Despite the relatively long hockey hiatus he took while pursuing other opportunities (primarily as Chairman of Southampton in the EPL), his new, high-energy personality appears to be the antithesis of the perpetually milquetoast, Phil Housley. We’ll see if Krueger can help this Sabres team (most of which consists of returning players from last season) reach its maximum potential.
2. Let the Kids Play
For the past month or so, one of the most relevant talking points among fans has been the roster competition set to take place (particularly within the Sabres’ bottom-six forward ranks). With so many less-than-fantastic incumbents returning to the team for another year, there has been some question as to whether the NHL-capable youngsters in the organization will actually have a fair chance to make the opening-night roster.
Tonight, players like Henri Jokiharju, and Tage Thompson will all get their first chance to make a good first in-game impression with Krueger, and make progress toward securing their place on the team. Conversely, players like Zemgus Girgensons and Remi Elie will need to bring their A-game in order to show that they were indeed worthy of their respective contract extensions this summer.
3. Cozens’ Professional Debut
Well, sort of. While preseason games obviously don’t count for anything from a statistical standpoint, tomorrow evening will be the first time that Dylan Cozens takes the ice in a professional capacity (Prospects Challenge notwithstanding).
As a longshot to make the opening night roster, it will be interesting to get a gauge of just how close to NHL-ready the 18-year-old centerman truly is.
Jimmy Vesey - Jack Eichel - Conor Sheary
Jeff Skinner - Evan Rodrigues - Curtis Lazar
Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Andrew Oglevie
Remi Elie - Dylan Cozens - Tage Thompson
Rasmus Dahlin - Henri Jokiharju
Marco Scandella - Colin Miller
John Gilmour - Casey Nelson