It's a big day for Marquette, Michigan. The winner of the second Kraft Hockeyville USA, seated in the Upper Peninsula, will host an NHL preseason game tonight at the 3,100-seat Lakeview Arena. The Buffalo Sabres are on their way there now to take on the Carolina Hurricanes tonight. The game can be seen on NBCSN at 7 p.m. and heard on WGR 550.
Here's what you need to know.
It looks like Jack Eichel will be in the lineup tonight, centering a line with Sam Reinhart and Evander Kane - at least that's what yesterday's practice hinted at. Eichel suited up for a fast, fun, exciting, energetic, fun, up-tempo, exhilarating, thrilling, fun Team North America during the World Cup of Hockey, so he already has some games under his belt this preseason.
He'll be expected to take on a big role tonight as the team's No. 1 center because Ryan O'Reilly, who was back on the ice with Buffalo for the first time yesterday, will not play.
O'Reilly won gold with Team Canada at the World Cup and is planning on dressing in both tomorrow night's game in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. and on Friday in Ottawa. Brian Duff caught up with O'Reilly for Monday's Sabres in :90.
Video: Sabres in :90
Here are O'Reilly's full comments
Video: O' REILLY: After Practice
What did Dan Bylsma think of O'Reilly's return?
"Our team got smarter, it got better. It got harder-working. Our coaches got better today. When Ryan comes back, he's that type of player."
The Sabres have been dealing with a few injuries this week and it's possible they'll have to weather one more. Kyle Okposo left practice yesterday after a shot hit him in the knee. Zach Bogosian (groins strain), Dmitry Kulikov (lower-body bruise) and Nicholas Baptiste (lower back) all missed practice. Bogosian will not play tonight and Kulikov's status for the trip was still up in the air.
Dan Bylsma's full comments from Monday:
Video: BYLSMA: After Practice
We'll have more information on everyone's status during today's morning skate, which begins at 11:30 a.m.
Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray have the radio call tonight, so if you want a Buffalo perspective and witty banter, turn down the TV and blast your radio.
Marquette is in the spotlight. Lakeview Arena received $150,000 in arena upgrades to help host tonight's game. Here's a look at the work that was done and how the city has been preparing for the big event.
There is also a lot of charitable work being done in the area to battle hunger.
Our very own Brad May was also on hand this weekend to assist in some clinics in Marquette. Here's a story on it (I'm pretty sure the guy in the first photo isn't Brad May, but I haven't seen him since the end of the season and I heard he's in great shape, so who knows? Actually? Never mind. The dude in the second photo is totally Brad. Sorry, guy in the top photo).
Call out The Instigators because there's something in the air
For more hockey talk, check out the premiere of The Instigators presented by M P Caroll Hardwood starting at 10 a.m. today. The all-new show, hosted by Andrew Peters and Craig Rivet will be simulcast on MSG and WGR 550. For more info on the show and how to find MSG on your local provider, click here.
Hopefully you have some Thunderclap Newman stuck in your head now.
On Tap Today
We'll set you up right for the game with our Morning Skate Report by Jourdon LaBarber and Duffer's video game preview. Stick with us after the game for full postgame coverage, including recaps and locker room interviews.
And we'll be right back at it again tomorrow with another game against the Hurricanes at Essex Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.