Five Things to Know as Sabres start season versus Canadiens - The Buffalo News

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Five Things to Know as Sabres start season versus Canadiens

The wait is over.

For the first time since April 5, the Sabres will play a regular-season game in Buffalo. There will be new faces in the lineup and positive tweaks to the arena experience.

Live coverage: Sabres start season against Canadiens

Here are Five Things to Know as the Sabres host the Montreal Canadiens in KeyBank Center.

1. Who's in?

Based on Thursday's morning skate, the Sabres will use the following forward lines:

Evander Kane-Jack Eichel-Jason Pominville
Benoit Pouliot-Ryan O'Reilly-Kyle Okposo
Zemgus Girgensons-Sam Reinhart-Seth Griffith
Johan Larsson-Jacob Josefson-Jordan Nolan

And here are the defense pairs:

Nathan Beaulieu-Rasmus Ristolainen
Jake McCabe-Victor Antipin
Marco Scandella-Matt Tennyson

Robin Lehner will start in goal.

The Sabres signed Tennyson as a free agent July 1, and he had an impressive preseason.

"My game fits the system pretty well here," Tennyson said. "You try to make the best decision for you personally and where the best place that your game will fit with the coaching and what the organization is implementing. Obviously, right now it looks to be a pretty good fit so far

"I'm happy to be here today, but that doesn't really mean anything. The work starts now."

2. Who's out?

Forward Matt Moulson and defenseman Josh Gorges will be the Sabres' healthy scratches. Defenseman Zach Bogosian is out with a lower-body injury.

Moulson and Gorges have a combined 1,385 games played and an $8.9 million cap hit.

"I respect the veterans that are not playing tonight, obviously," coach Phil Housley said. "But moving forward you never know what can happen. Changes can be made Saturday. Changes might come Monday."

Bogosian was named one of Buffalo's four alternate captains Thursday, joining Eichel, O'Reilly and Okposo.

Sabres name Eichel, O'Reilly, Okposo, Bogosian as alternate captains

3. Arena experience gets boost.

The Sabres previously announced they will give free T-shirts to every fan in attendance. The blue and gold garb is on every seat.

The Sabres will introduce their players in a new way. They will skate out from the bench and go under sabres that will descend from the rafters.

4. Historically, Canadiens are welcome guest.

Montreal was the first visitor in Sabres history back in 1970. Although it won that game, Buffalo has liked having the Habs in town. The Sabres are 72-39-26 at home against Montreal.

The Canadiens won the Atlantic Division last season with a 47-26-9 record.

"It's just speed," Beaulieu said of his former team's top attribute. "The biggest thing is they're not overly a puck-possession team. It's kind of chipping the pucks behind you and getting in on the forecheck. That's the brand they like.

"They like to get it out quickly, go behind you and crash and bang. It's tough to play against when someone's got so much speed. You look at their whole lineup, and they've got guys that can score on every line."

Montreal also boasts goaltender Carey Price and hard-firing Shea Weber at the blue line.

5. How to watch.

The game will start at 7 p.m. on MSG and WGR-AM 550. As of noon, tickets were still available at the arena box office and were selling for $47 and up on StubHub.com.

"It's a great sight," Housley said of the arena decked in blue and gold. "Just the excitement that's come from our training camp and finally get to play the first meaningful game of the season against a divisional opponent, it's very exciting for our guys.

"I think I'll be a little nervous until the game gets going, but I'm excited, too. Guys have worked tremendously hard through camp, and I think the guys are in a good place right now. I think they're going to be ready to play when the puck drops."

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