BUFFALO – The first glimpse of the new-look Sabres comes tonight, 180 days after they ended perhaps the worst season in franchise history.
Seven new faces will dress against the Boston Bruins, including first overall pick Rasmus Dahlin and winger Jeff Skinner, a two-time 30-goal scorer. The optimism surrounding the Sabres is well-deserved.
They’re a much different team than the dreadful one that finished in 31st place six months ago.
“They’re excited,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said this morning inside KeyBank Center. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm and energy – a lot of good energy. Our leadership group has done a terrific job setting the example for the young guys. … They’ve been willing and acceptable and made them feel comfortable.
“I think that’s paid dividends to this point where everybody is going in the right direction.”
Housley, of course, said he’s anxious for the season to start.
“It’s a long summer,” he said.
Wednesday was a long night for the Bruins, who were annihilated 7-0 in Washington after the Capitals celebrated their Stanley Cup championship.
“We understand and we have to respect where they’re coming from,” Housley said. “But at the same time, we can control what we can control. We’re making it about us. We understand where they’re going to be and they’re going to be desperate and they’re going to have a response.”
Here is tonight’s Sabres lineup:
– Skinner, Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart
– Conor Sheary, Patrik Berglund and Tage Thompson
– Vladimir Sobotka, Casey Mittelstadt and Kyle Okposo
– Zemgus Girgensons, Evan Rodrigues and Jason Pominville
– Marco Scandella and Rasmus Ristolainen
– Dahlin and Jake McCabe
– Nathan Beaulieu and Casey Nelson
Newcomer Carter Hutton will start in goal.
Sheary started practicing Sunday after an upper-body injury sidelined him most of training camp.
“Each and every day he got better,” Housley said. “I’m not worried about Conor Sheary. I know what he brings to the table, he’s a fierce competitor.”
Winger Remi Elie, a waiver claim from the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, and defenseman Matt Tennyson will be healthy scratches. Defenseman Zach Bogosian (lower body) is also out.
Former Sabres goalie Jaroslav Halak will start for the Bruins.