Finally, it's a game day in Sweden.
The Sabres will play the first of two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Ericsson Globe in Stockholm as part of the 2019 NHL Global Series this afternoon, with puck drop set for 2 p.m. EST. The game will be televised on NBCSN, or you can listen to Rick Jeanneret and Rob Ray on WGR 550.
Feel free to call in to work and join The Instigators at 716 Food and Sport. Andrew Peters and Craig Rivet will host the show live beginning at 10 a.m., then RJ and Rayzor will be on site to call the game.
Here's what you need to know.
It will be the first meeting of the season between the Sabres and their Atlantic Division rival. The Lightning are 6-5-2 coming off a loss to the New York Islanders in their last game, which was last Friday.
The Sabres are coming off a loss to the Islanders as well, having dropped a 1-0 contest at home on Saturday. They're looking to snap a three-game winless streak (0-2-1) after using the past week in Stockholm to recover from a grueling early-season schedule.
"We're just trying to let the players play with what they've learned to date and get them and their energy back up. I think that's what Sweden has done more than anything," coach Ralph Krueger said. "We've got a bit of a pause that's not normal in the National Hockey League. What it's done is charged up the energy of the players, the batteries are full. We're expecting a real high battle level from both teams."
"I can't wait for tomorrow," defenseman Rasmus Dahlin added. "We're here because we're going to play games and they're important points we're playing for. We're as ready as we can [be]."
Dahlin is one of six Swedes on the Buffalo roster, along with Marcus Johansson, Johan Larsson, Victor Olofsson, Lawrence Pilut, and Linus Ullmark.
The Lightning roster, meanwhile, includes one very high-profile Swede in defenseman Victor Hedman, who has been recovering from an injury but was a full participant in practice on Thursday.
Video: SABRES IN :50
Both teams held open practices as well as a skills competition on Thursday. Needless to say, Olofsson did his thing.
The fans did their thing, too. From the Ice Level Practice Report:
Fans filled sections of Ericsson Globe to watch the Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning practice and take part in a mini-skills challenge Thursday afternoon. The Sabres have six Swedish players on the trip - Rasmus Dahlin, Linus Ullmark, Marcus Johansson, Johan Larsson, Victor Olofsson and Lawrence Pilut - and they certainly received some of the biggest cheers during Buffalo's practice.
"For us, it's really an amazing experience coming over here. I hope the fans over here and the kids that are here feel the same way," Olofsson said. "I hope we can bring some excitement and some joy coming over. We're super excited and hopefully they are as well."
Read the full report, including players on what they gained from the trip and how they're preparing for the Lightning, here.
Americans Made: Tage Thompson
Tage Thompson leads the Rochester Americans in goals (5) and points (11) entering their home game against the Binghamton Devils tonight.
We caught up with Tage to discuss everything from his path to the organization, his dog, and how he's improved in Rochester in the season premier of Americans Made. Check it out below.
Video: Americans Made: Tage Thompson