Rasmus Dahlin asked fans to vote to select his goal song for this season. He hopes to hear it for the first time with old friend Linus Ullmark between the pipes for the Boston Bruins.
“He talks a lot of [expletive],” Dahlin quipped regarding his former teammate. “I just like scoring on him.”
Dahlin described Ullmark as an “older brother” of sorts for him and the other young Swedes on the Sabres’ roster in recent seasons. The popular goaltender’s return to Buffalo is one of a few interesting facets of tonight’s game between the Sabres and Bruins.
The Sabres are looking to improve to 4-0-0 for the first time since 2008-09. They will be wearing their white uniforms on home ice for the first of four “White Hot Friday” promotions this season.
Reminder for fans who cannot make it to KeyBank Center: The game will be the first of eight this season to air exclusively on ESPN+. Find info on how to sign up for the streaming service here.
Here are five things to know ahead of tonight’s matchup.
1. The lineup
Cody Eakin will be out after sustaining an injury during practice on Wednesday. He is expected to return at some point next week, Sabres coach Don Granato said.
Anders Bjork will slot in on a line with Zemgus Girgensons and Kyle Okposo in Eakin’s absence, with Girgensons shifting to center. John Hayden will join the lineup and make his Sabres debut.
Here is the full projected lineup based on the morning skate:
|October 22 vs. Boston|
|53 Jeff Skinner||24 Dylan Cozens||29 Vinnie Hinostroza|
|74 Rasmus Asplund||72 Tage Thompson||71 Victor Olofsson|
|96 Anders Bjork||28 Zemgus Girgensons||21 Kyle Okposo|
|91 Drake Caggiula||25 Arttu Ruotsalainen||15 John Hayden|
|26 Rasmus Dahlin||4 Will Butcher||41 Craig Anderson|
|8 Robert Hagg||13 Mark Pysyk||31 Dustin Tokarski|
|78 Jacob Bryson||33 Colin Miller|
2. The goaltenders
Craig Anderson will make his third start for the Sabres. He’s stopped 62 of 65 shots for a .954 save percentage.
It will be Ullmark between the pipes for Boston, making his debut in black and gold. Jeremy Swayman started the team’s first two games and posted an .885 save percentage.
3. Ullmark’s return
Ullmark signed a four-year, $20 million contract with the Bruins on the opening day of free agency. He played 117 games over parts of five seasons with the Sabres, who drafted him during the sixth round in 2012.
“Coming in this morning felt familiar, obviously after a lot of years here, but in a good way,” Ullmark said Thursday. “I’m just excited about tomorrow.”
The Bruins have started the season without longtime goaltender Tuukka Rask, who had offseason surgery and expects to be ready to play in January or February. Rask is not currently under contract, but a potential return has not been ruled out.
Ullmark posted an .839 save percentage across three preseason appearances.
“I think he’s progressively gotten better,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We’ll see [on Friday]. He hasn’t played yet. Ironic it’s Buffalo, but we’ll see how his game has come around since the last preseason game. We’ve been off for a while, a couple weeks for him, at least, maybe longer. Hopefully practice has helped him, and he’ll be good to go.”
4. Hayden’s debut
The Sabres signed Hayden to a one-year deal during the offseason. Read more about the forward, who hopes to be a “Swiss Army Knife” for the team and comes with an extensive fight card, here.
“He has been very patient and he’s continued to prepare hard for it and we’re excited that he’s got an opportunity,” Granato said. “… He’s a different type of players that a lot of the other players we have in the lineup. He’s a bigger, grittier, stronger different presence. So, we look forward to having that in our lineup as well.”
5. Scouting the Bruins
Boston is 1-1-0 this season after losing 6-3 at Philadelphia on Wednesday. The team will be without offseason acquisition Nick Foligno, who sustained an upper-body injury during the loss.
In spite of both of those facts, the Bruins represent yet another test for a young Sabres lineup that has been able to execute its aggressive game plan consistently during wins over the Canadiens, Coyotes, and Canucks. The Bruins have made five straight trips to the playoffs, led by their dynamic top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak.
Marchand leads the team with three goals through two games.
“That line, those three players are incredible at getting pucks back and when they have the puck it’s amazing what they execute,” Granato said.” And then you throw (defenseman Charlie) McAvoy, they play him with that line for that reason, because he can process and think at the level of those other three.
“So you have those four together, it is a group effort, tall task. They definitely demand respect throughout the whole league.”