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Sabres aim to introduce new brand of hockey to hometown crowd

Hutton to start vs. Devils in home opener

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Ralph Krueger re-watched the Sabres' victory in Pittsburgh on Thursday and was pleased more than anything by the consistency his team showed for three periods. There were few deviations from the aggressive, connected game plan he and his staff instilled throughout the month of September. 

The next step is to establish that consistency from game to game. The Sabres will look to introduce their new brand of hockey to the hometown fans when they open their home schedule against the New Jersey Devils tonight at KeyBank Center. 

"The results need to be byproducts," Krueger said. "We want to feel a consistency in our game, whether we're on the road or at home. The 'Sabres hockey' should be present. It's going to be a grind and a while until we have it as habits all the time. 

"We're expecting to have bumps and bruises along the way, but we're quite confident going into the game tonight because of the commitment the players have been showing and we expect that to continue."

Video: PREGAME: Krueger

The setting should make for a raucous atmosphere. Fifteen former captains will be welcomed to the ice as part of a pregame ceremony to kick off the organization's celebration of its Golden Season. The Sabres will also be debuting their commemorative 50th season jerseys

Once the puck drops, the focus shifts to replicating the assertive style that led them to a win in Pittsburgh. The Sabres outshot the Penguins, 41-29, and held a 28-12 advantage in even-strength scoring chances, according to 

"We're trying to play the same way no matter what building we're in," Sam Reinhart said. "With that being said, we want this to be a tough place to come into and play, with the crowd and the atmosphere they create and at the same time, secondly, the way we want to play, kind of in your face and aggressive."

Pregame coverage on MSG begins at 6:30 p.m., with puck drop set for 7. Rick Jeanneret and Rob Ray will have the call. 


Scouting the Devils

The Devils are coming off a 5-4 shootout loss to Winnipeg on Friday night, their first game with a new-look lineup that features No. 1 overall pick Jack Hughes at center and P.K. Subban on defense. 

New Jersey held a 4-0 lead in that game before giving way to a Winnipeg comeback. Krueger and his coaching staff were following carefully, more focused on what the Devils did well than what they didn't. 

"We need to see what they're trying to do when they play their A-game and we need to expect their A-game for 60 minutes," Krueger said. "So that's what we're doing, is we're picking the best of what they did. The score is actually irrelevant. 

"We saw when they were on, they're dangerous and they're very effective in what they do. We have a lot of respect for the way they're being coached there and I'm sure they're coming in here grumpier than if they had won the game so that makes it all that much more challenging for us."


Projected lineup

Krueger said the bodies will remain the same as in Thursday's win, although the lines and defense pairs will not be revealed until warmups. Carter Hutton will make his second straight start in net. 

Here's how the Sabres lined up in Pittsburgh:

68 Victor Olofsson - 9 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
53 Jeff Skinner - 90 Marcus Johansson - 17 Vladimir Sobotka
13 Jimmy Vesey - 37 Casey Mittelstadt - 43 Conor Sheary
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 22 Johan Larsson - 21 Kyle Okposo

19 Jake McCabe - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
26 Rasmus Dahlin - 33 Colin Miller
6 Marco Scandella - 10 Henri Jokiharju

40 Carter Hutton 
35 Linus Ullmark

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