The Buffalo Sabres play in their final state-side preseason contest tonight before departing for Germany and the NHL Premiere.
With the roster set for the season, this will be the closest to a regular season contest that anyone has seen to date. Luke Adam is probably the only player who will end up in Rochester; he is filling in for Derek Roy for the time being.
The lines should look something like this:
Vanek – Adam – Pominville
Ennis – Leino – Stafford
Gerbe – Gaustad – Kaleta
Ellis – McCormick – Boyes
Regehr – Myers
Ehrhoff – Leopold
Weber – Sekera
Jochen Hecht and Roy will likely be held out of this evening’s game. Roy is recovering from a shoulder injury and probably will wait until the season-opener to play, no need to rush him into a preseason contest. Hecht is also sidelined from a hit he took earlier in camp. All reports point to his absence as precautionary due to his concussion last season. Marc-Andre Gragnani could easily step in on either the Ehrhoff or Weber pairing tonight, I just think he is likely going to be the seventh defenseman as the season begins.
It is reported that Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth will split time again. A good decision as one is likely to go the distance in Mannheim on Tuesday. It seems like Lindy Ruff is doing his best to get his back up on the ice a lot this preseason. Hopefully he is doing it so he can play Enroth in quite a few games this season.
There is no TV listing for this game, so there will be little to offer in terms of analysis. However, with the regular season roster set, the power play and penalty kill should be in full force. So, if there is success on special teams it will likely be from a player who will contribute regularly on those units.
Lastly, the captaincy derby is pretty much settled. Ruff said he will name his captain in Europe, leaving any sort of guesswork aside for the final two preseason contests. While the first three games may have shown which way Ruff was tipping his hand, the choices in the final three contests were quite varied, only Robyn Regehr was likely to be considered as the captain or an alternate. For my money, Thomas Vanek is named captain – with the outside chance that Tyler Myers shares the duties with him. Paul Gaustad, Derek Roy and Jason Pominville will all wear an A again this season with Myers also getting a letter, should he not be named captain or co-captain.
Again, tonight’s game is not being televised, that I am aware of, catch the action on WGR 550.