Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com
Both the Rochester Americans and Buffalo Sabres face familiar foes today as the Amerks hit the road for a game with the Toronto Marlies while the Sabres play host to the Boston Bruins.
Rochester kicks things off at 3 pm with a match in Toronto. The Marlies swept the Amerks in the playoffs in the 2012 and 2013. Last season the teams split their 10 game series winning five apiece. The Amerks have won two of the last three.
Forward Johan Larsson and defenseman Chad Ruhwedel lead the team in scoring with four points apiece (each with a goal.) Mark Pysyk, who was sent to Rochester yesterday along with fellow defenseman Jake McCabe, should be in the lineup this afternoon. Pysyk played extremely well last season with both Buffalo and Rochester and looked like a lock to make the Sabres opeining roster. He played one shift in his first game of the preseason and went out with a shoulder injury.
Pysyk's assignment to Rochester should be deemed nothing more than a conditioning stint. When he's ready he'll be back up in Buffalo. Tonight he'll be on the top pairing with Drew Bagnall.
McCabe isn't expected in the lineup until the Amerks begin a three games in four night stretch on Wednesday in Rochester vs. the Rockford Ice Hogs.
In addition to keeping an eye on Larsson and Ruhwedel, Mikhail Grigorenko and Joel Armia are looking to rebound from sub-par performances in a 6-4 loss to the Hamilton Bulldogs. Grigorenko was held to one shot and was a minus-3 while Armia had only two shots and was a minus-2.
Rochester's Akim Aliu, who is on a 25-game tryout with the club scored his first two goals of the season in the loss vs. the Bulldogs. He played 14 games for Hamilton last season.
Forward Tim Schaller had a memorable game vs. Toronto last season when he singlehandedly brought Rochester back from a 3-0 deficit in the third period of an April 5th contest. Schaller's hat trick tied the score and Phil Varone scored the game winner with :45 left to keep their playoff march going.
In Buffalo, the human gesture machine, Milan Lucic, brings his lighter wallet (thanks to an NHL fine) and his hard-head to the F'N Center tonight.
The B's are off to a rather slow start going 2-4 to kick off the season. They took it on the chin 6-4 in Montreal for the Habs home opener after giving up four unanswered goals in the second half of the game.
Canadiens' fans really got to Lucic during the game, riding him for stupid remarks in the handshake line during last year's playoff loss to Montreal. After entering the box for boarding Alexie Emlin, Lucic made his obscene gesture, one for which he was fined $5000 and later apologized for. “I’m not proud of what I did there and I want to apologize for embarrassing the Bruins organization,” Lucic said. “I also want to apologize to our fans also apologize to the Montreal Canadiens organization and to the Canadiens fans. I know they can get under your skin sometimes, but they are great fans. Apologies for my actions, I regret what I did.”
Regardless of where the teams are in the standings, it's usually a battle and as bad as the Sabres have been for the last couple of years, they're still 5-5-0 in their last 10 games vs. the Bruins; 6-3-1 at home.
One thing to watch tonight is a backup goalie vs. the Sabres as the team has had the tendency to make them look like Hall of Famers. Tonight Boston will have Niklas Svedberg in net. The 25 year old Swede is making his third career start. He's 1-1 in his other two starts giving up two goals in each game.
Brian Flynn will be in the lineup tonight replacing Sam Reinhart. Flynn has recorded a goal and an assist in each of his last two home games against the Bruins.
Reinhart, who was skating on the fourth line the last two games will be in the pressbox observing. “It’s one of those things. He’s a young player that’s still learning,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said of Reinhart. “So we’ll let him watch a game and let’s see how he comes from that.”
Reinhart has been rendered ineffective since he's donned a Sabres uniform. In five regular season games for the Blue and Gold he has registered only two shots and is a minus-1.
There's no need to rush Reinhart back to his junior club, Kootenay Ice, at least from the Sabres' perspective, but Kootenay is sporting a poor 3-6 record and have only 20 goals, which is tied for second worst in the WHL.
Jhonas Enroth is back in the net for the Sabres coming off of a 1-0 loss/34-save performance vs. Florida last night.
No changes are expected in the Sabres' lines save for Flynn coming in to center the fourth line in Reinhart's place.