PITTSBURGH – In almost equal preseason action, Buffalo Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark outplayed Carter Hutton, posting a goals-against average 64 points lower and a save percentage 49 points higher than his partner.
But Hutton, 33, handled the load last season, playing a career-high 50 games.
Sabres coach Ralph Krueger, who said everything was up for competition during training camp, probably wants to show Hutton respect on opening night against the Penguins.
The veteran will start Krueger’s first game as Sabres coach.
Does Krueger have an early plan for his goalies?
“With everything right now, we’re really keeping the picture small and going one game at a time,” Krueger said inside PPG Paints Arena. “Let’s start with Carter Hutton today and go on tomorrow.”
Krueger said he and his staff reach decisions by having group discussions. Assistant coach Mike Bales is in charge of the goalies.
“So, of course, Mike has huge influence on that,” Krueger said.
In other lineup news, Evan Rodrigues will be the odd forward out tonight. Rodrigues, 26, was awarded a one-year, $2 million contract in arbitration during the summer. He scored nine goals and 29 points in 74 games last season.
“It’s always the mix in the end, and the competition here, as I’ve told you all through training camp, has increased, our depth has increased,” Krueger said of why Rodrigues is the 13th forward. “When you see that level of scratch, you can see that it’s not just words, it’s actions here.
“It’s a competitive situation. In the end, it was the mix that took him out of it.”
Meanwhile, John Gilmour, the biggest surprise of camp, will be the Sabres’ healthy scratch on defense.
Here is the rest of tonight’s lineup:
– Victor Olofsson, Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart
– Jeff Skinner, Marcus Johansson and Vladimir Sobotka
– Jimmy Vesey, Casey Mittelstadt and Conor Sheary
– Zemgus Girgensons, Johan Larsson and Kyle Okposo
– Jake McCabe and Rasmus Ristolainen
– Rasmus Dahlin and Colin Miller
– Henri Jokiharju and Marco Scandella