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Guhle, Risto will skate together as Sabres look to push tempo in opener

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Phil Housley is aware his players might be experiencing a bit of information overload. We're only four days into training camp, so it's understandable if the Sabres are still grasping the complexities of a new system. 

With that in mind, Housley had a simple message for his players as they approach their preseason opener against Carolina on Monday night. Play fast, and play confident. 

"I know there's a lot of things coming at these guys, a lot of information, so my message is just go out and work hard," Housley said. "Don't' hesitate in anything you do. If you make a decision to go, go. We'll deal with mistakes as they come, but I want us to play with speed and attitude tonight."

Video: Preview: CAR vs BUF (9/18/17)

It's to their benefit, then, that the Sabres will have two of their best skaters pushing the tempo from the back end. Brendan Guhle and Rasmus Ristolainen have been skating as a pair in practice, and they'll serve as Buffalo's top defensive unit against the Hurricanes. 

Guhle, 20, will need to impress in the preseason to have a shot at making the Sabres roster out of camp. It's hard to imagine a better opportunity out of the gate than playing alongside Ristolainen, who has led the Sabres in ice time for the last two seasons. 

"Who knows what it means, but I'm definitely excited about playing with a player of his caliber," Guhle said. 

Both players seem to be ideal fits in Housley's system with their ability to join the rush and create offense. Ristolainen should have the opportunity to do that more often now than in years past, and we've already seen instances of it in 5-on-5 drills in practice:

Tweet from @JourdonLaBarber: A little 5-on-5. That's Girgensons-O'Reilly-Okposo-Guhle-Risto in blue. Ends with Okposo goal. #Sabres

Guhle, meanwhile, stood out as much as anyone at the Prospects Challenge earlier this month. He scored six points in the final two games, and showed diversity in doing so. He scored one goal on a give-and-go at the net front and another with a slap shot from the point.

Playing with Ristolainen, he said, could provide more of those opportunities.

"I think the biggest thing for me that he's going to be able to help with is just his strength in the D-zone and in the corners and stuff," he said. "I think he'll be able to help me pop some guys off pucks, be able to get out of the zone quick and play in the O-zone."

Puck drop between the Sabres and Hurricanes is scheduled for 7 p.m. You can catch the game live on WGR 500, and check back here afterward for highlights and reaction. 


Moses looking to make most of second chance at NHL

Video: Phil Housley Pregame (9/18/17)

Two years ago, Stevie Moses thought he had earned his ticket to the NHL. He was coming off a season in which he led the KHL with 36 goals, and had been rewarded with a one-way deal with the Nashville Predators. 

Looking back, Moses admits the thought was naïve. He was unhappy after beginning the season in AHL Milwaukee, where he played only 16 games before returning to the KHL to play with SKA St. Petersburg.

Then, last June, he watched the Predators compete for the Stanley Cup. 

"I was expecting to be in the NHL and was unhappy," Moses said. "Two, three years later half the guys who were playing in Milwaukee are playing in the Final. It was hard to watch, obviously, and definitely played a role in my decision to try and make a run."

After winning a championship with SKA St. Petersburg last season, Moses decided to give the NHL one more shot. He signed an AHL contract with the Amerks, in hopes of eventually impressing enough to earn a shot with the Sabres. 

He's gotten a good opportunity out of the gate. Moses has been skating on a line with Benoit Pouliot and Sam Reinhart, which is where he'll play on Monday night.

"Stevie's a tremendous skater and he's got terrific speed and he fits well into our system," Housley said. "I've really liked his attitude the past three days. He's been playing with a chip on his shoulder, and he's got to continue to do that if he's going to get more ice time and more games."

Moses is known for his skating and shooting ability, and that's what he'll look to bring against the Hurricanes and going forward. His only expectations this time around are to give his best, and let the chips fall where they may.

"I want to give myself a real chance and see where it ends up," he said.


Projected lineup

Robin Lehner will get the start in net for the Sabres, although whether or not he'll play all three periods will be determined as the game goes on. Linus Ullmark will back him up. 

The rest of the lineup is as follows:

28 Zemgus Girgensons - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
67 Benoit Pouliot - 23 Sam Reinhart - 52 Stevie Moses
49 C.J. Smith - 51 Kyle Criscuolo - 95 Justin Bailey
25 Seth Griffith - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 59 Cliff Pu

45 Brendan Guhle - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
19 Jake McCabe - 27 Taylor Fedun
8 Casey Nelson - 38 Cody Goloubef

40 Robin Lehner
35 Linus Ullmark

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