Game Preview | 5 Things to Know Ahead of Sabers Vs. Predators

Alex Tuch was as excited as anyone inside KeyBank Center on Friday morning.

The Sabers were preparing to play in front of their first sellout crowd of the season against the Nashville Predators, as well as to honor the legendary Rick Jeanneret, whose named will be raised to the rafters.

“It’s no surprise during RJ night, everything he’s done for this community and for this organization,” Tuch said. “I’m really happy to see all the fans come out and support him because he deserves it. He’s an icon and he’ll go down as a Buffalo Sabers legend. He’s already one, but even more so.

“Tonight’s going to be a really special night for him and for our team.”

Coverage on MSG begins at 6:30 pm The puck drops shortly after 7.

Here are five things to know.

1. RJ Night

Jeanneret will be honored with a banner alongside the seven players whose numbers have been retired by the Sabers: Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin, Rene Robert, Tim Horton, Danny Gare, Pat LaFontaine, and Dominik Hasek.

Find more information on the night here.

Tuch counts himself among the thousands of Sabers fans who grew up listening to Jeanneret’s energetic, one-of-a-kind calls. He rattled off Afinogenov’s spin-o-rama goal against the Lightning (“Holy mackerel, roll the highlight film!” And Jason Pominville’s playoff winner (“Scary Good!”) As two of his favorites.

“It just made it so much more enjoyable, especially (because) going to NHL games is not something the average person can do on an everyday basis,” he said. “To be able to sit at home and watch and still find that enjoyment and see the passion and hear the passion that a guy like RJ has, I think it allowed people to connect to the Sabers at a really personal level.”

Tuch was acquired by the Sabers in November, then had to wait nearly two months before making his team debut while he rehabbed from offseason surgery. He made it a point in the meantime to make a trip to the press box and meet Jeanneret in person.

“I told him that my dad was really jealous,” Tuch said. “Every game my dad and I would listen to RJ.”

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: We have a winner������You’ve voted MAY DAY as RJ’s best call of all time! #ThankYouRJ | @Wegmans

2. Compete and passion

Sabers coach Don Granato was asked about the opportunity of playing in front of a full building.

“With me specifically, I talked about the game being entertaining,” he said. “People pay to see us play and… we’re in the entertainment business. We want to make these games exciting and to me, all that said, it boils down to compete and passion. That’s what we want. We want competitive people. that are passionate about the game, and you see that passion on the ice. “

3. Samuelsson returns

Mattias Samuelsson will be back in the lineup after missing the team’s shootout loss to Chicago on Monday with an injury.

Find the projected lineup below, based on how the team lined up at the morning skate. Granato did not announce his starting goaltender.

April 1 vs. Nashville
C RW
53 Jeff Skinner 72 Tage Thompson 89 Alex Tuch
74 Rasmus Asplund 37 Casey Mittelstadt 71 Victor Olofsson
19 Peyton Krebs 24 Dylan Cozens 29 Vinnie Hinostroza
28 Zemgus Girgensons 20 Cody Eakin 21 Kyle Okposo
96 Anders Bjork
LD RD G
26 Rasmus Dahlin 10 Henri Jokiharju 41 Craig Anderson
23 Mattias Samuelsson 45 Casey Fitzgerald 31 Dustin Tokarski
78 Jacob Bryson 13 Mark Pysyk

4. The streak

The Sabers have earned points in seven straight games (4-0-3), their longest such streak since they won 10 games in a row in November 2018. They have gone past regulation in six of those seven contests.

5. Scouting the Predators

Any conversation about the Predators begins with their captain. Roman Josi leads NHL defensemen with 81 points – tied for 10th among all players. His 63 assists are tied for second in the league with Connor McDavid.

“I remember the first time I saw Roman Josi was in Milwaukee,” Granato said. “I was scouting for the Maple Leafs and I thought, ‘Wow, this guy’s going to be a heck of a player.’ Now you look at him, [81] points coming into tonight as a defenseman is – that’s elite. “

Josi leads a Predators team that also boasts a pair of 30-goal scorers in Filip Forsberg (37) and Matt Duchene (35). The Predators occupy the top wild card spot in the Western Conference with 82 points.

Juuse Saros will start in goal.

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