BUFFALO – The Rochester Americans open their training camp Monday, so a for a slew of Sabres, tonight’s preseason tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs inside KeyBank Center is a final chance to impress coach Phil Housley and the team’s brass.
The Sabres will almost certainly assign some players to their AHL affiliate in the near future.
“If you want to separate yourself from other people on the team or the totem pole, you got to do things that require hard work ethic,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said this morning. “Maybe it’s blocking shots, maybe it’s taking hits to make plays, maybe it’s first on the forecheck and playing the game fast.”
Winger Justin Bailey, one of the Sabres on the bubble, echoed Housley.
“It’s just every game bringing those keys things that the coaches want me to do,” he said. “Playing fast … physical on the forecheck and really cleaning up those little things, the things that separate the guys that play here and the guys that don’t.”
The Sabres will field a strong lineup tonight, with Jack Eichel, Evander Kane, Jason Pominville, Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen all dressing. In Friday’s 3-0 loss in Toronto, the Leafs dressed a much better crew than the Sabres.
Second-year Leafs star Auston Matthews won’t play again tonight. Winger Mitch Marner and goalie Frederik Andersen are Toronto’s most notable players coming to Buffalo.
Here are tonight’s forward lines and defense pairs from left to right:
– Matt Moulson, Eichel, Kyle Okposo
– Kane, Reinhart, Pominville
– C.J. Smith, Johan Larsson, Hudson Fasching
– Nick Deslauriers, Kyle Criscuolo, Bailey
– Nathan Beaulieu, Ristolainen
– Josh Gorges, Victor Antipin
– Brendan Guhle, Matt Tennyson
Sabres goalie Robin Lehner will start and be backed up by Chad Johnson.
In other news, Housley had no updated on forward Evan Rodrigues, who left Friday’s game after getting crunched into boards. Housley said Rodrigues will be examined tonight.
The Sabres also assigned forward Cliff Pu, their only junior player left in training camp, back to the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights this morning.
Update: The Sabres sent the following players to the Amerks this afternoon: forwards Eric Cornel, Vaclav Karabacek and Kevin Porter; defensemen Brycen Martin, Casey Nelson and Devante Stephens; goalies Jason Kasdorf, Jonas Johansson and Adam Wilcox.
The Sabres have 36 players – 21 forwards, 12 defensemen and three goalies – left in camp.