Game 10 Preview: "It Began With a Bloody 'S'!!"

Columbus Blue Jackets at Buffalo Sabres

October 26, 2011 - 7:00pm EDT
First Niagara Center - Buffalo, New York
Radio - WBNS FM 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: Die By The Blade
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I know that title probably sounds a bit, well, ominous if you aren't familiar with what I'm referencing. To that end, I'm sure many of you have figured this out by now, but I'm a total pop-culture dork. And, whenever the Blue Jackets play the Sabres, I always find myself channeling my inner Darryl Hammond, who is in turn channeling his inner Sean Connery:

Columbus is finally in the win column, putting together by far their best effort of the season on Tuesday night against the Red Wings. That will have to continue tonight against a very solid Buffalo team, and the Jackets appear to be facing Ryan Miller, who is in the short discussion for "best goalie in the league". The Sabres got a lot faster and tougher to play against this summer, but the Jackets showed on Tuesday that if they play their game--and play it with full effort--they can beat just about anybody. In other words...

"The hell if I'm going to pay you a bloody eight hundred dollars!" Indeed, sir. Indeed.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(1-7-1, 3 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)

Vinny Prospal Derick Brassard Rick Nash
R.J. Umberger Antoine Vermette Ryan Johansen
Maksim Mayorov Samuel Pahlsson Derek Dorsett
Alexandre Giroux Derek MacKenzie Cody Bass

Fedor Tyutin James Wisniewski
Kris Russell Aaron Johnson
Grant Clitsome John Moore

Steve Mason
Allen York

Buffalo Sabres
(5-3-0, 10 Points; 2nd Division, 5th Conference)

Thomas Vanek Luke Adam Jason Pominville
Ville Leino Derek Roy Drew Stafford
Nathan Gerbe Paul Gaustad Patrick Kaleta
Matt Ellis Cody McCormick Brad Boyes

Robyn Regehr Tyler Myers
Andrej Sekera Marc-Andre Gragnani
Jordan Leopold Christian Ehrhoff

Jhonas Enroth
Ryan Miller

By The Numbers

Scoring
CBJ - 2.33 G/G (19th)
BUF - 2.88 G/G (7th)

Defense
CBJ - 3.22 GA/G (t27th)
BUF - 2.13 GA/G (7th)

Power Play
CBJ - 11.1% (26th)
BUF - 16.0% (14th)

Penalty Kill
CBJ - 67.7% (30th)
BUF - 92.3% (t2nd)

Game Notes:

  • Big Money Men - The two biggest casher-inners on the free agent blue line this past summer will be facing off tonight, as the Sabres have Christian Erhoff and his wacky front-loaded contract on the ice. Erhoff has been everything he was expected to be on the offensive side, with a goal and four assists in eight games. He is also, however, a -5 so far on the season. You would probably think that this is because he gets a lot of points on the Power Play. Not so fast... he actually has just one PP point--an assist. So, he's been on the ice for four EV goals, and he's -5. In eight games. Yowza. That's why he's on the third pairing, methinks. 
  • Speaking of Defense - Wisniewski's return seemed to stabilize the Jackets' back-end on Tuesday, as his crisp exit passes and calm demeanor were infectious. He unleashed the mighty mighty slapshot a few times, and it's as advertised. Here's hoping the second verse is the same as the first.
  • Special Teams - The Jackets have scored PP goals in five straight games, and in those five games they are 5-for-25 (20%). Buffalo's PK is one of the best in the league, and the Jackets will have their work cut out for them to continue their streak. Even still, once they got their first PP goal, 20% success rate is right around what I was expecting from this unit, and they're getting the QB back in Wisniewski. Let's see if they can crack the nut of the Sabres' PK tonight.
  • Speaking of Special Teams - The Jackets didn't allow a Power Play goal for a change the other night. Let's continue that trend, shall we?
  • All Your Mase Are Belong To Us - Steve Mason certainly showed us all a little sompin-sompin the other night, coming back from a shoulder injury and playing as well in net as we've really seen in quite some time. He controlled rebounds, he was efficient in his movements, and he wasn't really ever out of position. Some of this probably comes from more consistent defense in front of him--and there was certainly an effort to keep the front of his crease clean--but Mason certainly gets credit for playing through pain and playing well. Let's see if he can string two games together like that.
  • Goals and Such - Columbus has now gotten to the "3+" goals plateau for TWO STRAIGHT GAMES!! Wacka wacka!! Seriously, though, scoring against Buffalo and Ryan Miller is tough sledding. The Jackets generated a ton of chances against Detroit, and capitalized. They need to continue that effort again tonight. Their chances will be fewer and further between, so burying them is a must. Miller isn't going to give up softer goals like Ty Conklin did. [update] which makes it so much cooler that Miller is not starting tonight. Woot!
  • You Don't Mess With The Johan - Ryan Johansen is finally getting minutes, and is making his case to stay in the 'Bus for the entire season. In two games on the wing of the second line, he's now notched three points (1G, 2A), and is +2, and is averaging just over 17 minutes of TOI in those two games. More, please!
  • Crack Open A Cold One - Enjoy the game folks.
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