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Ullmark gets the nod as Sabres conclude road trip in San Jose

Contest opens home-and-home set with Sharks

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

SAN JOSE - With a condensed schedule resulting from their November trip to Sweden, the Sabres are playing the long game when it comes to energy management in the early part of the season. 

That goes for the way they manage their goalie tandem as well. Following a 47-save outing for Carter Hutton in Los Angeles on Thursday - a franchise record for saves in a regular-season shutout - the Sabres will turn back to Linus Ullmark to conclude their California road trip tonight in San Jose.  

"Linus and Hutts have been working really hard together as a team and I think we know how long the grind is," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. "For us, it's excellent that Linus has come into this season with a lot of confidence. He's been solid in the games to date and we're just looking forward to it."

Ullmark is 1-1-1 through three appearances coming off a 26-save performance in a loss to Anaheim on Monday. He made 40-plus saves in each of his two prior starts, an overtime loss in Columbus and a victory at home over Florida. 

The team's emphasis on energy conservation has influenced day-to-day decisions, including its philosophy on pregame skates. The Sabres skated this morning after taking a day off on Friday, but the norm this season has been off-ice activations on game days.

Krueger said he was influenced in this area from his time working as chair of the Southampton Football Club in the English Premier League. 

Video: PREGAME: Krueger

"I just think it's all about energy and understanding the different ways we can gather energy and we're making sure the quality of our execution stays high," he said. "What I find tends to happen is if you're practicing with a team that's tired mentally or physically, your execution principles fall away. It's better to just go off ice and do something really intense together. 

"That was probably one of the few things that comes also out of my experience in the Premier League, watching the way they gather and/or use energy on gamedays. You don't see any pregame warmups or activities there at all. We were playing a lot at 8 at night or 8:30 at night. It got me thinking. Speaking with sports science there and here has kind of brought me to the conclusion that pregame skates are often an expenditure of energy that you don't need."

Kyle Okposo said earlier this month that he's been impressed with the way players have taken advantage of off-ice resources. Krueger said that aspect of the team was already established before he took over as coach. 

"Quite clearly, our off-ice work here is outstanding," he said. "It's part of our culture, is the activation we've been doing since the first day of training camp and also post-practice, lifting or exercise. Everybody on our team has all bought in."


Scouting the Sharks

The game opens a home-and-home series between the Sabres and Sharks, with the two teams set to meet again at KeyBank Center on Tuesday. 

"I think it's a lot of fun to have a back-to-back like this," Krueger said. "It also evens the playing field as far as the travel is concerned, which is a good thing. We have a lot of respect for the history in the last decade of this club and what it's been doing and how they've been competing at the top of the league."

The Sharks have won three straight games after starting their season 0-4-0. Former Sabres forward Evander Kane scored a first-period hat trick in their last game, a 5-2 win over Carolina. 

Logan Couture enters the game riding a five-game point streak, with a goal and five assists in that span. He leads the Sharks with seven points (1+6) in seven games this season. 


Projected lineup

68 Victor Olofsson - 9 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
53 Jeff Skinner - 90 Marcus Johansson - 17 Vladimir Sobotka
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 22 Johan Larsson - 21 Kyle Okposo
13 Jimmy Vesey - 37 Casey Mittelstadt - 43 Conor Sheary

19 Jake McCabe - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
26 Rasmus Dahlin - 33 Colin Miller
6 Marco Scandella - 10 Henri Jokiharju

35 Linus Ullmark 
40 Carter Hutton


Tune in 

Pregame coverage on MSG begins at 10 p.m. You can also listen live on WGR 550. The puck drops at 10:30. 

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