Wednesday, September 30, 2015

3 games in 4 nights begins tonight vs. Leafs at F'N Center

Reprinted with permission from

The trimming of the roster will continue over the course of the next week as the Buffalo Sabres ready themselves for their season opener on October 8th. The Ottawa Senators visit the First Niagara Center next Thursday in one of the most anticipated season openers for Buffalo in a long time.

With the roster makeover in full swing as GM Tim Murray and head coach Dan Bylsma now lead the journey up from the bottom of the league. With only three games remaining in the preseason, many are fighting for NHL roster spots and it's especially tight up-front as only two or three bottom-six spots might be available.

Defense is a bit different as injuries have crept into the equation meaning that a player like 18 yr. old Brendan Guhle (2015, 51st overall,) who would normally be headed back to junior sometime within the next week, may get an extended look in the regular season. Two d-men trying to make enough of an impression to stick with the Sabres--Jake McCabe and Chad Ruhwedel--are suffering from injuries that will probably sideline them for the rest of the preseason. That would make two years in a row that McCabe went down in the preseason. Last year upon his return he was sent to Rochester and it's likely that both he and Ruhwedel will be headed there once healthy.

Goaltending is pretty much a lock. Barring injury, Robin Lehner should start vs. his old team on October 8th with Chad Johnson as back-up.

The Amerks opened up their camp yesterday and saw an influx of players. Loaned to Rochester were forwards Justin Bailey (2013, 52nd) and Nicolas Baptiste (2013, 69th.) As expected both were sent to Rochester to begin their professional careers in probable top-six roles. They were joined by Jean Dupuy (2014, FA,) William Carrier (2015, 57th, STL,) Daniel Catenacci (2011, 77th,) Justin Kea (2012, 73rd) and Jack Nevins (2013, FA, MTL) to fill out the forward ranks. Jerry D'Amigo (2009, 158th, CLB) and Phil Varone (2009, 147th, SJS) both passed through waivers and will be joining the club up-front as well. Forward Matt Garbowsky (2015, FA) and defenseman Matt Prapavessis (2015, FA) were released from their respective PTO's with Buffalo and joined Rochester on their AHL contracts.

Goaltender Andrey Makarov was also loaned to Rochester and looks to be the starter in net for the Amerks this season.

Rochester opened training camp yesterday with 23 players including recently signed defensemen Colby Robak (2008, 46th, FLA) and Spiro Goulakos.

Robak was with the Amerks when they were affiliated with the Florida Panthers while the Sabres were in Portland, ME and has bounced around over the last three seasons with stops that included stints in the NHL (FLA, ANA) and the AHL (San Antoino and Norfolk.) The 6'3", 207 lb. Robak told Amerks broadcaster Don Stevens of his return to Rochester, "It's good to be back. [Walking through those doors] took me back a few years. The start of my pro career was here and I had a good time. It's a great city, the fans are great and the organization's great."

Goulakos was an invitee to Sabres camp, was released from his PTO last Thursday and was signed by Rochester on Sunday. The Montreal native came from Colgate University where he was captain the his last two years in college.

Filling out the roster for yesterday's skate were forwards, Cason Hohmann, Chris LangkowMike Seidel, Garrett Klotz,  Allan McPherson (re-signed 2015,) Scott Jacklin and William Kessel. Also skating were defenseman Josh Chapman and Zach Tokinen as well as goaltender, CJ Motte. See's Warren Kosel's day one notes here.

It will be the last hurrah for some to the players slated to play in tonight's matchup vs. the Maple Leafs. Forwards Evan Rodrigues (2015, FA) and Cal O'Reilly will be on a line tonight while Jason Akeson (2015, FA) and Tim Schaller (2013, FA) are expected to go on Thursday. Of the four, Schaller looks to be the only one with a legitimate shot at making the Sabres roster opening night, but even that's slim as Buffalo's loaded with players up front.

The Amerks are waiting for the defense to sort itself out in Buffalo, but injuries have clouded things. As mentioned, both McCabe and Ruhwedel are shelved and both are expected to be in Buffalo while veteran Bobby Sanguinetti (2006, 21st, NYR) has an upper body injury.

There's good news for the Sabres defense-corps, however, as Rasmus Ristolainen is slated to make his preseason debut. Bylsma's looking to limit his top-pairing d-man to around 18-20 minutes. He said Ristolainen's injury didn't prevent him from skating and that he's now ready for some live action hitting.

In goal for the Sabres tonight is Robin Lehner who should be in the entire game.

The game is at 7:00pm and will be televised inside of 716 at HARBORCENTER.

From WGR's Paul Hamilton, tonight's expected forward lines:

Evander Kane, Ryan O'Reilly, Tyler Ennis
Matt Moulson, Jack  Eichel, Brian Gionta
Evan Rodrigues,  Cal O'Reilly, Sam Reinhart
Marcus Foligno, David Legwand, Nic Deslauriers

Ristolainen is expected to be joined on defense by Carlo Colaiacovo, Brendan Guhle, Cody Franson, Matt Donovan and Mike Weber.

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