As has been mostly standard since he took over in February, Sabres coach Ron Rolston wouldn't say who will start in goal tonight against Tampa Bay but all indications are that it will be Jhonas Enroth. He came off the ice first this morning and Ryan Miller stayed on for some extended work.
Said Rolston on MIller: "He's out there today so he's ready. How did he look? Probably not as good as he
did early on [in the season] but he's getting there."
Translation: Maybe Thursday against Columbus or Saturday in Chicago. But almost certainly not tonight.
What the Sabres will be showcasing for the nation tonight (it's a 7:40 puck drop on NBC Sports Network) is a new look up front to try to generate any shred of offense.
Johan Larsson on the bench during his only previous NHL game, playing for Minnesota against Detroit on Feb. 17. (Getty Images)
By Mike Harrington
Much of training camp and the buildup to the season opener in Detroit was spent on the debuts of first-round draft picks Rasmus Ristolainen and Zemgus Girgensons. Tonight's home opener against the Ottawa Senators will mark the Buffalo debut of 21-year-old center Johan Larsson, another player the Sabres have high hopes for as a future building block.
With Ville Leino injured and Tyler Ennis shifted to wing, Larsson will take the ice as Buffalo's No. 2 center tonight between Ennis and Steve Ott.
"I'm really excited to go out and play," Larsson said today. "Camp was pretty good for me and that helped me build the
confidence to do some work.
they are two good players but they just told me to go out there and play my
style and that's what I want to do.
Larsson, of course, was acquired from Minnesota last year as part of the Jason Pominville trade that also brought Matt Hackett and, as it turned out, Nikita Zadorov. His career will be closely watched as a main guy acquired in the deal for a captain.
"They really wanted me I think," Larsson said. "They told me to go out and
play my style. That's the only thing I have to do. It's a great group of guys
here to help me out. [Henrik] Tallinder helps me out. He's from Sweden too. You just go out, have fun."
With no television broadcast, a lot of requests to see highlights from last night's 5-2 preseason win over Carolina. Click below for the in-house video complete with Rick Jeanneret calls. Two goals for Johan Larsson, a sick pass from Thomas Vanek to Cody Hodgson for the game-winner and a strong job in goal by Ryan Miller, especially in the first period.
Read John Vogl's report on Joel Armia's night, including his first goal, by clicking here.
The Sabres are essentially flipping squads for tonight's game in Columbus, with the players who didn't go to Sunday's shootout win in Montreal making their preseason debuts tonight. There are three notable exceptions: Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons, last year's two No. 1 picks, are in the lineup again tonight after having key roles in Sunday's win, and so is goaltender Matt Hackett.
Grigorenko had a pedestrian game until scoring the shootout winner, while Girgensons was the Sabres' top forward with two goals. The most interesting debut tonight will be winger Joel Armia, the 2011 No. 1 pick. He'll be playing with Tyler Ennis and Johan Larsson.
Veterans making preseason debuts tonight include goalie Ryan Miller, the team's top defense pair (Christian Ehrhoff-Tyler Myers) and top forward line (Marcus Foligno-Cody Hodgson-Thomas Vanek), Tyler Ennis and John Scott.
The look at the team's morning skate in First Niagara Center went like this:
The Sabres open the exhibition schedule tonight in Montreal and it will mark the debut of Ron Rolston's new-look coaching staff, as John Vogl wrote about in today's paper. As we learned during today's morning skate, the game is also quite a nod to the team's scouting and development staff as all four No. 1 picks from the last two years (Mikhail Grigorenko, Zemgus Girgensons, Rasmus Ristolainen and Nakita Zadorov) will get a chance to take the Bell Centre ice.
Quite a statement indeed.
"Absolutely it is," Rolston said in First Niagara Center prior to the flight to Montreal. "Our goal right now in training camp is
there's going to be a lot of opportunity for those players. They're going
to get a lot of time here in the exhibitions. They're important to where
we're headed and we've got a lot of faith in those guys. So it's going to
be important to watch them grow even through this exhibition schedule."
Ristolainen, the No. 8 overall pick in June, will be paired tonight with Mike Weber.
"I'm so excited," said Ristolainen. "I've been waiting a lot to play a game and it's nice to
play in Montreal. I've heard it's one of the best rinks in this league
and so are the fans, so I'm excited. There's a lot of guys getting chances. I know this is one
of my chances. I want to do everything tonight to show my skills."
"He's a solid kid, solid player," Weber said. "He's a man. An 18-year-old man. He's a
big boy, skates pretty well, moves the puck really well. He's smart. It's exciting for Sabres fans to
have a big guy like that come in and we get to see how he looks against
other men. But he's already been playing in a professional league (in Finland). His
strength is there so it's all about playing against these guys. The NHL
is the best guys in the world."
NEW YORK -- The Sabres haven't had much time to rest this season with their hectic schedule. So with the team playing tonight against the Rangers on the second day of back-to-back games, interim coach Ron Rolston is giving Buffalo the morning off.
The Sabres will report to Madison Square Garden at around 5 p.m. Rolston will give an update on Thomas Vanek's availability at 5:15 p.m., so stay with Sabres Edge for the latest.
OTTAWA -- The Sabres have hit the ice at Scotiabank Place for their pregame skate. As Lindy Ruff said this morning, Mikhail Grigorenko is back in his normal spot on the third line. One of the fourth liners will be a scratch. The lines look like this:
It was an optional morning skate for the Sabres today in preparation for tonight's game against Carolina. Ryan Miller will be in goal, likely against Hurricanes backup Dan Ellis. The Sabres aren't expected to make any lineup changes, and coach Lindy Ruff said he's not looking to shift any lines yet, even though only Thomas Vanek-Cody Hodgson-Jason Pominville is producing any offense.
"The great thing is we got one of the hottest lines in the league," Ruff said of the trio, which has eight of the team's 10 goals. "The bad thing is it's the only line that's scoring right now. But I would take three goals out of a hot line over maybe two goals from two different lines."
One of the few guys on the ice was winger Ville Leino, who skated hard for 20-25 minutes before coming off the ice. Leino has yet to play this season with what has been revealed to be an injury to his right hip.
Don't look for any changes in the Sabres' lineup tonight for the 7 p.m. rematch against Carolina. The only players skating this morning in First Niagara Center are regular scratches Mike Weber, T.J. Brennan and Matt Ellis, and injured forwards Cody McCormick and Ville Leino.
Thomas Vanek's five-point game in Sunday's 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers was the first of his career -- and the first by any Sabre since Drew Stafford had five (including three goals) in a 10-1 win over Atlanta on Jan. 18, 2008.
(4:45 p.m. update: According to the Sabres and the Elias Sports Bureau, Vanek is first NHL player to record five points in a season opener since Phoenix's Steven Reinprecht on Oct 5, 2006.)
Vanek was a big talking point in the locker room, as were Cody Hodgson, Steve Ott and Drew Stafford.
Click any of the files below to go around the room.
Coach Lindy Ruff
Click any of the links below to download the audio files:
John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.
Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.