The Sabres European Vacation is in full swing as they prepare to play their final preseason game against Adler Mannheim this afternoon.
The Sabres have had a few days to enjoy Germany and adjust to the time change after arriving over the weekend. A few practices and a stop to a U.S. military hospital has certainly kept the team busy. Now the actual business portion of the trip begins.
Jhonas Enroth will be starting today’s game and the Buffalo lineup will be slightly different than the final stateside preseason games were.With Derek Roy healthy, Lindy Ruff has shuffled his lines in order to keep chemistry while icing a balanced attack. According to John Vogl’s report, the lines will look something like this:
Vanek – Adam – Pominville
Ennis – Leino – Boyes
Gerbe – Roy – Stafford
McCormick – Gaustad – Kaleta (Ellis)
The defensive pairs will remain the same with Tyler Myers and Robyn Regehr, and Christian Ehrhoff and Jordan Leopold being the top four. Marc-Andre Gragnani, Andrej Sekera and Mike Weber all will continue to compete for the final two spots. While Matt Ellis would likely be the extra forward if this were a regular season game, don’t be surprised if he is in the game this afternoon.
I am surprised to see Ruff put Roy between Gerbe and Stafford at this point in time. It seemed as if the last two lines he wanted to disrupt were those of Ennis-Leino-Stafford and Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta. The latter was very effective down the stretch last season and has shown similar success in the preseason. The former has a center who is new to the team, the system and hasn’t played the position in some time. I supposed keeping Ennis and Leino together is just as well, but I fear that Boyes will be left behind by the two swift forwards.
Luke Adam has clearly etched himself a spot on the team. He may not last long past Jochen Hecht’s return, but it is obvious the staff sees a significant progression from the young center and trust him with one of the main scoring lines. Joining Adam with Pominville and Vanek combine three talents that should be effective in creating quite a bit of offense. While both Vanek and Pominville are pure shooters, Pominville is capable of filling a passer’s role – evidenced by his continued use on the power play point. Adam is a big body capable of digging out pucks and finding his linemates, I expect Vanek to lurk in the weeds and see his goal total rise thanks to this line combination.
Since today’s game is about as meaningful as a Harlem Globetrotter’s game, don’t expect too many fireworks. It is unfortunate that Jochen Hecht will not be able to play in his hometown due to his lingering concussion symptoms, but Christian Ehrhoff will likely receive a very warm welcome.
This will provide the Sabres a good warm-up contest and should allow them to fully adjust to playing six hours ahead of what they’re accustomed to. Expect to see a team fully prepared for their season-opening games at week’s end.