Who: Pittsburgh Penguins @ Buffalo Sabres (exhibition)
When: 7:00 pm eastern
How to watch: In the Pittsburgh local viewing area,the game will be broadcast on Sportsnet Pittsburgh. Nationally this game is available on NHL Network, who will be picking up the MSG feed, which is out there in the NY region. It will also be available over the radio and online at 105.9 The X and on the Pens’ website and app.
Rosters: It’s here, the final game of the exhibition period. Typically this game is treated as a last tune-up and dress rehearsal for the start of the regular season and that looks to be the case tonight, if not exactly then certainly might close to it.
Coach Sullivan on tomorrow's game: "The main priority is to get ready for Game 1. We've covered a lot of things over the course of this training camp. We've tried to give a lot of people opportunities to show what they can do. We have to make some hard decisions here coming up." pic.twitter.com/BlW2IzEWT2— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 5, 2023
Here’s the players who will be participating, though one forward and one defender will be scratched after warmups.
Clues on what the actual lines might be come from yesterday’s practice, with an interesting new development of Drew O’Connor getting promoted to a scoring line.
Here are the Penguins lines and D-pairs:— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) October 5, 2023
O’Connor-Crosby-Rust (Guentzel did a rotation)
White-Eller-Harkins (Zohorna did a rotation)
Another sign for the final roster might be presumably which one of Colin White, Radim Zohorna or Jansen Harkins gets scratched and doesn’t play tonight, or if all of them are given spots in the lineup. Given the praise for Harkins’ first impression and the benefit of seeing him again, it stands to reason it won’t be him drawing that short straw tonight. If Zohorna is the odd man out and grinders are in lower lines and O’Connor plays well in the top-six, that might go to answer some of the tough questions the Pens are asking as they piece this puzzle together.
Also conspicuous by their absence from the lineup altogether are Vinnie Hinostroza and Austin Wagner. Then again, this roster/lineup doesn’t necessarily have to be the pool of players in the mix for when the games count. After Wagner’s strong closing statement on Wednesday night, the team simply might not need to see any further from him and look to instead get more data from other options. Players like Harkins and White have some big skates to fill compared to what Wagner has shown in his extensive opportunity to play in so many games.
Defensively, the team is either prepping to give Ryan Shea all the time possible to adjust to the organization and team in the event he will be needed as a mid-season call-up, or he is making a serious run at sticking as the extra defender. Either outcome is plausible, and perhaps telling that Mark Friedman doesn’t look to have a tight grasp on a roster spot.
The other piece of good news is that P.O Joseph is well enough following his minor injury picked up in the Ottawa game earlier this week to be in consideration to play, and presumably will be ready for the start of the regular season.
Feel free to use this comment section during the game if you’re watching or listening along to discuss the action.