Game 5(X) Preview: Buffalo Shuffle

Game Time: 5:00 pm EST
Radio: 1460 AM
Opponent's Blog: Die By The Blade

After recovering from Friday night's flight difficulties, the Jackets had a day of camp (or rest, for the previous game squad) before getting ready for tonight's late afternoon tilt.

For a lot of the playing squad tonight, it's going to be a little bit of a chance for redemption - these are, after all, the same Buffalo Sabres who not only beat them in the final game of the season, but who won the game after a pair of late power play goals, leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of both players and fans. I can't imagine that's the sort of thing that you let go easily in the off-season, perhaps letting it smoulder and spark to help drive you through the 400th push-press or squat.

While it won't really be the same Sabres team, it also won't really be the same Jackets - not just because of the roster turnover, but I think because of the new attitudes in the locker room.

Tonight would be an excellent time to show them just what's changed...

Today's playing roster is about 60% locks and 40% question marks - it should be interesting to see what kind of perfomances we get from guys like DMac, Dorsett, Boll, and both Russells - guys who know their job could potentially be on the line.

The other obvious wildcard is Ryan Johansen, seeing his first game action since the split squad affair in Winnipeg. He stood out simply by having the lone goal in that loss, but after watching guys like Cam Atkinson and Maksim Mayorov take their chances and run with them, I wonder how Johansen will respond. If he wants to make the team, he's going to need to beat out both of them to even have a chance.

With Springfield's camp underway and only three pre-season games left after tonight, don't be surprised if a lot of guys come out swinging, hoping to dodge the next round of cuts.

Todd Richards should also be behind the bench, so that will hopefully help with the team's power play, even with the loss of Wisniewski.

Here's a few wild guesses at line combos - nothing absolutely certain, but it seems like units the coaching staff might be trying out. (Edit: Updated with info on the top two lines from practice)

Rick Nash Jeff Carter Alexandre Giroux
R.J. Umberger Ryan Johansen Derick Brassard
Derek MacKenzie Samuel Pahlsson Derek Dorsett
Jared Boll Dane Byers Ryan Russell
David Savard Radek Martinek
Kris Russell Grant Clitsome
John Moore Cody Goloubef
Steve Mason
Allen York

Buffalo Sabres

Tyler Ennis Ville Leino Drew Stafford
Marcus Foligno Luke Adam Zack Kassian
Colin Stuart Cody McCormick Jason Pominville
Patrick Kaleta Matt Ellis Corey Tropp
Tyler Myers Robyn Regehr
Mike Weber T.J. Brennan
Marc-Andre Gragnani Andrej Sekera
Ryan Miller
Drew MacIntyre

The Sabres have also activated the following players: Michael Ryan, Dennis Persson, & Drew Schiestel. No idea if my line combos are even close to right, sorry.

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