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Mittelstadt, Nylander look to reignite chemistry in Toronto

Duo will skate on a line with Tage Thompson

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Casey Mittelstadt and Alexander Nylander built chemistry as linemates during the final game of the Prospects Challenge earlier this month, when they combined for seven points during the Sabres' 10-goal outing against the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

They'll have a chance to build on that performance Friday, albeit against stiffer competition. 

Mittelstadt and Nylander will skate on a line with Tage Thompson when the Sabres visit the Toronto Maple Leafs for the first game of a home-and-home set. They'll be met by a lineup that includes John Tavares, Nazem Kadri and Mitch Marner, among others.

"It's good to have them play against, it could be a Tavares line, a Marner (line)," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "They're very good hockey players. They have speed, they have experience. So, it's a great test. It's good to see them and evaluate them in those situations."


Nylander and Thompson had success as linemates during the preseason opener in Columbus on Monday, each tallying a pair of assists. It was their combined work on the forecheck - combined with a slick pass from Nylander - that led to Patrik Berglund's goal to open the scoring in that game. 
Mittelstadt and Nylander, meanwhile, have become intrinsically linked since the end of last season. They were selected eighth overall in back-to-back years, scored their first NHL goals in the same game and, at the Prospects Challenge, they showed an ability to complement one another on the ice. 

"I think we both just like to make plays with the puck," Mittelstadt said. "We like to have the puck on our stick, control it. I don't think we're too big into giving it away or anything like that. We both see the ice well, we both like to spread it out a little bit, so I think we'll work together nicely."

The offensive talents of Mittelstadt, Nylander and Thompson are obvious, but it's the details of the game that will keep them at the next level. Housley said he'll be focused on how the trio manages their defensive responsibilities against a talented Maple Leafs roster.

"They're young, they're fast, they're skilled," he said. "The only thing I'm concerned about is just the checking portion of it. If they take care of that, they're going to get turnovers and they're going to create offense. But they've got to pay attention to the players they're playing against."

Tonight's game can be seen live on MSG-B, or you can listen to Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray call the game on WGR 550. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. 


Oglevie to see more ice time

Video: PREGAME: Housley

Andrew Oglevie made the most of his limited ice time in Columbus, and he should see more time in Toronto as a reward. In a lineup laden with young players, the rookie forward will skate alongside two veterans in Zemgus Girgensons and Vladimir Sobotka.

"I think just his willingness to get in the tough areas [has stood out], and definitely I really like his speed, his attitude," Housley said. "The way he plays the game, he's not afraid to get into the net area, the hard traffic area, if you will."

Oglevie is participating in his first NHL training camp after signing an entry-level deal with Sabres as an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame in April. He scored in his preseason debut on Monday by crashing the net and cleaning up a rebound.

"I like to score goals a lot and I've been known to do it a certain number of ways," he said. "Getting my nose dirty in front of the net is definitely not something I'm scared of. If that's what it takes, that's what it takes."

Oglevie described the experience of his first week at camp as "invaluable" and feels he's done a good job handling the transition from the college game. 

"I mean, the level of play, it's the NHL level," he said. "Guys can make plays left and right. The speed has definitely kicked up a little bit, but I feel like I handled it pretty well. Having that college experience has definitely helped me I think so far. I'm just looking to grow as the week goes on."


Projected lineup

92 Alexander Nylander - 37 Casey Mittelstadt - 72 Tage Thompson
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 17 Vladimir Sobotka - 52 Andrew Oglevie
49 C.J. Smith - 12 Kevin Porter - 13 Nicholas Baptiste
41 Victor Olofsson - 74 Rasmus Asplund - 46 Eric Cornel

45 Brendan Guhle - 8 Casey Nelson
25 Lawrence Pilut - 5 Matt Tennyson
44 Brandon Hickey - 38 Zach Redmond

35 Linus Ullmark 
32 Adam Wilcox

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