It is finally here. The Ottawa Senators will play their first competitive game since being eliminated by the Penguins when they visit the Buffalo Sabres tonight. A lot has changed from that night in Pittsburgh. Gone are Mika Zibanejad, Jakob Silfverberg, Sergei Gonchar, André Benoît and Daniel Alfredsson. They have been replaced by Stéphane Da Costa, Bobby Ryan, Patrick Wiercioch, Eric Gryba and Clarke MacArthur. Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza should be in better shape than they were in late May.
Here are the lines for tonight courtesy of Brent Wallace.
Michalek - Spezza - Ryan
MacArthur - Turris - Conacher
Greening - Pageau - Condra
Z. Smith - Da Costa - Neil
Méthot - Karlsson
Cowen - Wiercioch
Phillips - Gryba
Vanek - Hodgson - Stafford
Ott - Larsson - Ennis
Girgensons - Grigorenko - Flynn
Scott - Porter - Kaleta
Tallinder - Myers
Ehrhoff - Pysyk
Weber - Ristolainen
No stats for tonight as it is game 1, but here are some notes:
- Only one real surprise tonight as Joe Corvo will not play and Eric Gryba will take his place. I say surprise because Corvo has been paired with Chris Phillips all week in practice. This should make the penalty kill units pretty simple on defence now. Gryba should also be less of a disaster on the third pairing compared to his role last season.
- Despite the Sabres lineup having some unsavoury characters, Paul MacLean resisted the urge to play Matt Kassian. We will have 20 ice hockey players dressing for tonight. This could change for tomorrow though.
- Jason Spezza will play his first game in 15 days tonight. He hasn't gotten much preseason action, so it is possible it might take him a few games to get going with his linemates. But hey, hopefully it doesn't.
- Even if the top line gets shutout out tonight, the second line has been playing very well. One of those three is going to score tonight, calling it now.
- Our third line is going to destroy the opposition tonight. That's all I am going to say on that. It is such a mismatch. Unless they play the Vanek line, in which case they will still hold their own.
- The Sabres looked pretty bad against the Red Wings despite losing only 2-1. The shots on 5-on-5 were 27-13 for Detroit.
- Do you like pizza?