STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – The most active people in the preseason are easy to see. They're the guys in the striped jersey calling penalties.
Specifically, they're calling slashing penalties and faceoff violations.
The NHL and the Department of Player Safety are cracking down on those two areas during the exhibition games. Five of the 10 penalties called during the Sabres' preseason opener against Carolina fell into those categories, mirroring a league-wide trend.
The slashing calls can change the game the most.
"It's definitely different, that's for sure," said Sabres center Evan Rodrigues. "You can't play with your stick up in the air anymore. It's got to be on the ice. Anything around the hands is going to get called.
"If this is any indication of how the year's going to go, there's going to be some high offense created because it's hard. You can't put your stick in there anywhere now, and guys are going to have a lot more room to create offense."
The officials are attempting to establish the standard early. Whether it lasts through the regular season could be another story.
"If it's consistent, I think that's the main thing," Buffalo coach Phil Housley said. "There's certainly going to be a lot of power plays."
The faceoff rules require the centers to stay behind the red lines in the faceoff circle. Wingers also can't cheat toward the dot until the puck is dropped. Any infraction is a two-minute penalty.
It's not new. It's just being called to the letter of the law.
"They're trying to protect the referees in the faceoff," Housley said. "They're trying to make the game faster and bring the most skill out of the game, so hopefully we can continue to adjust to those rule changes."
The faceoff rule, which was called eight times Monday, is receiving harsh criticism.
"This faceoff rule is an absolute joke,” Bruins forward Brad Marchand told reporters in Boston. “That’s how you ruin the game of hockey, by putting that in there. They’re going to have to do something about that because we can’t play this year like that.
“Basically, you have to be a statue. You can’t move."
Justin Bailey has always wanted to be a scoring winger. Once again, he may have to change his mindset.
Just like previous coach Dan Bylsma, Housley envisions Bailey as a hard-charging forechecker who should use his 6-foot-3, 214-pound frame to his advantage.
"He's got to use his speed and physicality," Housley said. "He can be the first on the forecheck, driving a guy out and making his presence being felt."
When the Sabres met Pittsburgh on Tuesday in Pegula Ice Arena at Penn State, Bailey and left wing Seth Griffith were the only two skaters who were also in Monday's lineup. Griffith had a goal on three shot attempts against the Hurricanes. Bailey had one shot in 11:13 of ice time.
"He's got to use his speed," Housley said. "The one thing that I really saw and liked was his tracking. He had a great track back and disrupted a play at our blue line. That's what his speed can do, not only offensively but defensively.
"Getting a lot more time on the penalty kill, I think that's going to help his game."
The United States and Canada knew they were playing their world juniors game outdoors Dec. 29 in New Era Field. They learned the start time Tuesday: 3 p.m.
Individual tickets to the game will go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday. Tickets will start between $45 and $110, and they will follow the dynamic pricing model. The price will be continually adjusted throughout the on-sale period to accurately reflect demand.
USA Hockey members, season-ticket holders for the Buffalo Bills and Sabres, and My One Buffalo members will have a presale Sept. 21 and Sept. 22.
Packages for all 31 games of the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championship are still available, along with eight- and 12-game options. Individual ticket sales for medal-round games will be announced at a later date. For more information, visit BuffaloWorldJuniors.com.