For the preseason finale, the Buffalo Sabres will ice what could be close to their opening night lineup. A few players are still fighting for spots on the team and injuries have opened up new opportunities, but for many of those in the lineup will take Friday’s match against Columbus as an opportunity to prepare for the regular season.
Center Ryan O’Reilly has played three preseason games thus far, picking up a goal and two assists.
“It’s tough to jump right back into the swing of things and it always takes some time. We’ve got a good group and we’ve worked hard but it’s not going to be easy,” center Ryan O’Reilly said. “We’ve still got to maintain our structure. But know it’s our last test, so we’ve got to make sure we’re challenging ourselves and staying within our systems as best we can.
Buffalo held an optional skate featuring eight forwards and four defensemen. O’Reilly, Jack Eichel, Evander Kane, Tyler Ennis, Matt Moulson and Brian Gionta are all slated to play after having Thursday night off. Robin Lehner will start in net and is expected to play the full 60 minutes. He posted a 26-save shutout on Tuesday.
Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on MSG-B. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550. Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray have the call.
Columbus' roster can be found here.
BACK-TO-BACK FOR A FEW
A handful of Sabres who skated in Thursday’s 6-1 loss in Minnesota will play again Friday. Bylsma confirmed that Sam Reinhart, Johan Larsson and Rasmus Ristolainen will be back in the lineup and he expects a better effort from all of them.
Reinhart will once again play on the right wing. He has four assists in three preseason games, including a three-point night last week in Toronto.
Where Reinhart will play has been a question the coaching staff has been looking to find the best answer to during this Training Camp.
“He’s played his best games on the wing. A game like last night, which was a little bit of a hodgepodge with injuries so soon in the game, he played some center and wing,” Bylsma said. “He’s played the left wing and the right wing. He feels more comfortable on the right wing so that’s where he’ll play tonight.”
One of those early injuries was sustained by Patrick Kaleta. The forward, currently on an American Hockey League deal, left Thursday’s game in the first period and did not return.
He isn’t the only player currently on the shelf.
Bylsma had previously said that defensemen Josh Gorges and Zach Bogosian could miss the season opener on Oct. 8 due to lower-body injuries and that still remains the case with both players. Gorges has skated the past two days, including Friday’s morning skate but Bogosian hasn’t taken part in any on-ice workouts yet. Bylsma did say that Bogosian, however, is progressing well.
Rookie Brendan Guhle, a second-round pick in this year’s draft, is still recovering from an upper-body injury he sustained Tuesday night when he was knocked out of the game by a hard, clean hit from Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf. Guhle has not practiced with the team since the collision. Bylsma listed him as day-to-day.
Defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti has also not practiced with the team since the first week of camp due to an injury.
Goaltender Linus Ullmark took part in the morning skate. He’s recovering from off-season hip surgery. While he is able to practice, Bylsma said he has not yet been cleared for game action.
The Sabres announced after practice that the team has released eight players from its training camp roster.
Six players have been loaned to the Rochester Americans (AHL): Forwards William Carrier, Evan Rodrigues, and Tim Schaller; defensemen Jerome Leduc (pending waivers) and Chad Ruhwedel (pending waivers); goaltender Nathan Lieuwen.
Two players have been released from their tryouts and will report to Rochester for training camp: Forwards Matt Ellis and Patrick Kaleta.
The Sabres now have 30 players (16 forwards, 11 defensemen and three goaltenders) on their training camp roster.
The Rochester Amerks played in their preseason opener on Thursday and will play another preseason game Saturday in Binghamton.
The team will also likely make a few roster moves before the day is done. The Rochester Americans played in their preseason opener on Thursday and will play another preseason game Saturday in Binghamton.