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Sharpen Up: September 16, 2019

All the Sabres news you need to know heading into the first preseason game of the year

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak / Sabres.com

Let the games begin.

Buffalo opens up its preseason slate tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Penn State. It's a 7 p.m. faceoff from Pegula Ice Arena that you can watch live on Sabres.com within the Sabres' local broadcast market or listen to on WGR 550. Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray have the call.

Here's what you need to know.

Tonight's roster

The Sabres announced their roster for the game last night.

Fans going to the game will be able to see a mix of vets and newcomers like Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner, Rasmus Dahlin, Dylan Cozens, Jimmy Vesey, Henri Jokiharju, Colin Miller and Carter Hutton. 

The full roster can be found here.

Pittsburgh is going with a younger lineup. They announced their roster last night as well.


Weekend practices

Here's what you may have missed from training camp this weekend…

On Sunday, we took a look at the internal competition throughout the lineup:

In a lot of ways, you can see why Jake McCabe would see a bit of himself in William Borgen. 

Their on-ice identities are a match - both are brash, physical defensemen who can hold down their own end but also possess the skating and puck-moving abilities to get involved offensively. There's also the fact that Borgen currently finds himself in the same position McCabe was in four years ago, a promising young talent who's had a taste of the NHL and is now looking to take the next step. 

Yet Borgen took a long pause when asked about the comparison, noticeably uncomfortable with the idea of placing his name alongside a veteran of 274 NHL games. 

"Sure, I guess," Borgen finally offered. "I mean, he's a really good player. That would be a nice comparison for me if that was it."

Video: TRAINING CAMP: Krueger

McCabe, meanwhile, went out of his way to note their similarities.

"I think me and Borgs feed well off each other," he said. "We play similar styles, rugged and physical and we both can skate pretty well. I like our intensity, especially in the D-zone. We talk a lot. I just really love the way he plays, and I feed off his energy."

And we looked at the roles Marcus Johansson and Casey Mittelstadt would like to play this season:

Video: SABRES IN :50

On Saturday, we spoke to Curtiz Lazar, who signed with the team on July 1 and is excited for the opportunity that presents itself:

Curtis Lazar took phone calls from multiple teams during his first foray into unrestricted free agency this summer, but it only took one conversation with Ralph Krueger for the forward to decide the Buffalo was the place for him.  

Lazar looked at the Sabres' roster and saw a strong young core, including a former teammate in Sam Reinhart. He saw a new head coach with a philosophy he believed in. 

Most importantly, he saw an opportunity.

"I've been waiting for this training camp for a full calendar year," Lazar said. "… I see my place here. I really do. I think I can fit in and I can really blossom into the player I know I can be."

Expectations were high when Lazar broke into the NHL with Ottawa as a 19-year-old in 2014, just a year after the Senators selected him with the 17th pick in the draft. He knows now that his ascension to hockey's highest stage came too soon.

Lazar played parts of three seasons with the Senators and was averaging just 8:49 when they traded him to Calgary in March 2017. He played 65 games with the Flames the following season but averaged just 9:51 and tallied 12 points. 

After clearing waivers in October of last season, Lazar - still just 23 - admitted that seeing regular ice time in the minors might be the best course to get his career on track. He spent the year playing in all situations for AHL Stockton, wearing an 'A' while tallying 41 points in 57 contests. 

It was the sort of role - and production - that had been lacking since his junior career. 

"It was huge, and honestly it was probably much needed for myself," Lazar said. "I got rushed into the NHL as a 19-year-old and, yeah, I was able to stay afloat on the fourth line and stuff but I kind of lost that offensive edge.

"… To come out here and feel good about myself and my game, it feels good. I'm looking for it to translate and get some results."

And how has Tage Thompson prepared himself for this training camp? Brain Duff spoke to him for Saturday's edition of Sabres in 50:

Video: Sabres in 50: Thompson's Growth

Stick with us for news and notes throughout the day as we get set for the first preseason game of the year. And tomorrow, Buffalo will travel to Columbus to face the Blue Jackets. Is it October yet?

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