MARQUETTE, Mich. - It's been an unusual week of rest for Ryan O'Reilly since returning from the World Cup of Hockey last Thursday. After seven high-intensity games with Team Canada, he didn't practice with his teammates until Tuesday, and even that was with a small non-game group.
On Wednesday, things were back to normal. O'Reilly was his usual self, out early for the morning skate along with his brother, Cal.
"I feel a little bit more tired than I normally am from a pregame skate," he said afterward. "It's good to be back out their skating with the whole team. It was nice to get my feet moving around and kind of get in those game situations."
Video: Preview: BUF vs CAR (10/5/16)
O'Reilly will make his preseason debut Wednesday when the Sabres play the Carolina Hurricanes in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. It's the second of back-to-back games between the Sabres and Hurricanes. Buffalo won 2-0 in the first meeting on Tuesday.
With plenty of game experience already under his belt from the World Cup, O'Reilly said the objective for him over the course of the final two exhibition games is to reaccustom himself to his usual workload. He was the fourth-line center for Team Canada and didn't see time on the power play. With the Sabres, he plays top minutes and is on the ice in all situations.
"It's getting a feel for that again, getting my pace up," O'Reilly said. "Be smart, read the game well and from there making sure I'm still working hard."
Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said Tuesday that his plan at the outset of camp was to try O'Reilly on a line with rookie Alexander Nylander. We'll see that plan come to fruition in Sault Ste. Marie. O'Reilly will center a top line that features Nylander on the right wing and Evander Kane on the left.
Nylander previously played on a line with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart on Tuesday. The idea, it seems, is to get the Sabres' top draft pick this summer next to as many good players as possible and see what works. O'Reilly had his first good look at Nylander on Wednesday and was impressed.
"Actually seeing him out there today in practice and we were on the power play together, you can tell that he's got elite hockey sense," O'Reilly said. "He's a top-notch player and it will be exciting. We're playing on a line together so getting to see him a little closer, I'm looking forward to it."
Linus Ullmark will make his first start of the preseason in net for the Sabres. Robin Lehner, coming off a 28-save shutout on Tuesday, will serve as his backup.
Faceoff is set for 7 p.m. The game won't be televised, but you can listen live on WGR 550. Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray have the call.
9 Evander Kane - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 70 Alexander Nylander
56 Justin Bailey - 27 Derek Grant - 12 Brian Gionta
26 Matt Moulson - 19 Cal O'Reilly - 52 Hudson Fasching
72 Jean Dupuy - 43 Daniel Catenacci - 10 Cole Schneider
Defensemen: 29 Jake McCabe, 34 Casey Nelson, 46 Erik Burgdoerfer, 45 Brendan Guhle, 67 Brady Austin, 41 Justin Falk
35 Linus Ullmark
40 Robin Lehner