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Guhle to make season debut as Sabres host Winnipeg

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

One goal was all that separated the Buffalo Sabres and the Winnipeg Jets when they met last Friday, a 4-3 Winnipeg victory. With the two teams set for a rematch on Tuesday, the Sabres will look to clean up the errors that made the difference in that loss - and they'll have a new face on the back end to help.

Brendan Guhle will make his season debut for the Sabres when they host the Jets at KeyBank Center on Tuesday night. It will be the young defenseman's fourth NHL game, following a three-game stint with the club on emergency recall last season. 

In the time since, Guhle has left his junior career behind and began a pro career in Rochester, where he's been allowed to develop through the first half of this season. Guhle has recorded a team-high 91 shots to go along with 20 points (7+13) in 35 games for the second-place Amerks. 

Video: Preview: WPG at BUF (1/9/18)

The time in Rochester allowed Guhle to develop his defensive awareness, as well as the ability to better utilize his 6-foot-2-inch, 196-pound frame. That, and he's better honed his timing as to when to join the rush and put his offensive skills on display. 

"I think he's done a terrific job of just his timing in that aspect, not getting too far ahead of the play, trying to read the play," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "If it's called for, he can jump in and try to be even with the rush but most importantly, he's coming in from behind and if there's a breakdown he's in good position."

Housley did not rule out the potential for Guhle to earn time on the power play as the game progresses. He's expected to skate on a defensive pair with Jake McCabe, with whom he practiced on Monday. 

"I'm just going to talk to him as much as I can, let him know what's coming at him and let him know to talk to me because it makes our lives a lot easier back there," McCabe said. "Communication's going to be big and just playing his game and playing to his strengths are going to be key for him."

Housley also complimented Guhle's ability to make a clean, hard first pass through the neutral zone, which should serve as an asset against a heavy Winnipeg forecheck. Breaking down that forecheck will be a key for the Sabres, as will slowing down the Jets' second-ranked power play.

The Sabres gave the Jets four power-play opportunities in their last meeting, and the Jets scored on two of them. 

Video: Pregame: HOUSLEY

"Parts of our game were really good against them," Housley said. "We beat them in the 5-on-5 area. We've got to be good tonight, especially in our own end, protecting our goaltender, and we've got to fight through and get dirty and get in front of their goaltender in zone one because we've got to make it difficult."

Robin Lehner, who did not practice on Monday after taking a shot to the neck in Philadelphia on Sunday, is expected to start in net for Buffalo. 

Steve Mason will start in goal for Winnipeg. 

Coverage on Tuesday begins at 6:30 p.m. with GMC Gamenight on MSG-B, or you can listen to the game live on WGR 550. The puck drops at 7. 


Projected lineup

28 Zemgus Girgensons - 15 Jack Eichel - 21 Kyle Okposo
9 Evander Kane - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 29 Jason Pominville
20 Scott Wilson - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 23 Sam Reinhart
22 Johan Larsson - 10 Jacob Josefson - 17 Jordan Nolan

6 Marco Scandella - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
82 Nathan Beaulieu - 47 Zach Bogosian
45 Brendan Guhle - 19 Jake McCabe

40 Robin Lehner
31 Chad Johnson

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