PITTSBURGH - With Sidney Crosby and many of his fellow regulars set to dress for the Pittsburgh Penguins, the players in the Sabres' lineup for tonight's preseason finale will get a taste of what they might see when they return to PPG Paints Arena for opening night next Thursday.
Add in an what should be a lively atmosphere - the Penguins have distributed 18,000 tickets for their annual "Free Game for Kids" - and the game should serve as a suitable dress rehearsal.
"It's excellent," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. "It's all about evaluating how we're playing, evaluating individuals, raising the stakes here for the questions that we have. We're looking forward to this game. It will be a lot of fun."
Krueger said he has a "pretty clear picture" of what his lineup might look like next Thursday, though the competition is tight enough that a surprise performance could alter that vision.
With star players like Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner, and others getting the day off, the Sabres are utilizing the game as an opportunity to get one last preseason evaluation of their depth.
"This is a strong character lineup with a lot of players who will definitely lead the way in our team eventually in how we need to play without the puck and defensively," Krueger said.
Conor Sheary will not play after practicing with the team on Thursday and Friday. Krueger said the forward is still not 100 percent after sustaining a lower-body injury in Toronto last Friday.
Linus Ullmark will start in net and is expected to play the full game. Ullmark has stopped 39 of 42 shots in two preseason appearances.
The AT&T Sports feed of the game will air on MSG, with puck drop set for 4 p.m. Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray will have the call on WGR 550.
Forwards: 13 Jimmy Vesey, 17 Vladimir Sobotka, 20 Scott Wilson, 21 Kyle Okposo, 22 Johan Larsson, 27 Curtis Lazar, 28 Zemgus Girgensons, 37 Casey Mittelstadt, 71 Evan Rodrigues, 72 Tage Thompson, 74 Rasmus Asplund, 81 Remi Elie
Defense: 6 Marco Scandella, 8 Casey Nelson, 10 Henri Jokiharju, 26 Rasmus Dahlin, 33 Colin Miller, 58 John Gilmour
Goalies: 35 Linus Ullmark, 40 Carter Hutton