Wednesday, September 25, 2019 - 7:00 EST
Keybank Center, Buffalo NY
Radio: 97.1 The Fan
Opponent’s blog: Die by the Blade
Columbus Blue Jackets (2-2-0)
Buffalo Sabres (2-2-0)
Coming off a hard-fought loss in St. Louis to the defending Stanley Cup champions on Sunday, the Blue Jackets look to regain their footing against a team that they made easy work of last Tuesday. However, the Sabres have momentum in their favor after a 5-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, and their preseason records are dead even going into this match.
The roster is looking leaner as Torts continues to shave it down, looking to go from a healthy 26 as of yesterday to 23 by the time the season opener roster is determined — that’s less than a week from now, but who’s counting?!
“These are three pretty important games for a number of people,” head coach John Tortorella remarked when speaking to the media yesterday. “On our back end as far as figuring out who we are, basically I would have to say our sixth defenseman, and what is our fourth line and maybe even part of our third line and who fits in the first two lines.
”There’s still a lot of questions that need to be answered.”
Player to Watch
Well, tonight’s roster isn’t available yet, so I’ll update when it is — Torts said he’s going to bring in six or seven players from Cleveland, so we’ll see how that shakes out.
Jacob Lilja had a memorable performance the other day, scoring two of the three goals put past Jordan Binnington. Even if that’s the most we see of him for awhile, it was encouraging to see his performance on Sunday and know the depth of the bench is being developed.
Elvis and Korpi are neck and neck for the most part in the preseason, each facing their own set of challenges and each managing to shine in tough moments. I’m going to echo paledragon on this one and say that I see Korpi as the early-season starter, but Elvis is going to be hot on his heels. With every game he plays, he’s further acclimating to the NHL stage and preparing to give everyone a run for their money.
The Other Bench
The Sabres just made their first significant round of cuts, thinning their roster by 15 players. Despite a lackluster performance against the Jackets last week, they’ve stepped up in their play in the games since and I don’t think tonight will be as much of a gimme.
A standout this preseason has been their goalie, Linus Ullmark, who has shared the stage with their other healthy goalie, Carter Hutton (Ukko-P. Luukkonen is out until later this fall with a hip injury). Their main producers in their two preseason wins have been Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson and Jack Eichel.
Here’s a mostly up-to-date look at where the rosters stand heading into tonight’s match: Columbus Blue Jackets @ Buffalo Sabres — I’ll get the actual rosters posted here as soon as they come out. Any predictions on those three remaining cuts Torts has to make? Share your thoughts in the comments.