Jhonas Enroth makes a save on Antoine Vermette in the first matchup of these two teams earlier this season. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Finally, the Jackets seem to have something going.
A victory over the Sabres tonight will give the Jackets points in five straight games, and if the New York Islanders fail to win against the Devils, the Jackets will be out of the NHL basement and into 29th overall. Columbus continues to ride the hot hand of goaltender Curtis Sanford, who has been in net for the past four games. Goaltender Steve Mason is out with a concussion, leaving Allen York as the backup. At this point the Jackets can expect to face Jhonas Enroth, with starter Ryan Miller on the IR.
The Sabres are excellent on special teams, so Columbus will need to play a disciplined game and continue to have success on the powerplay. If they get into penalty trouble, the Sabres will make the Jackets pay for it, with Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville leading the way offensively. Rick Nash seems tantalizingly close to another one of his scoring binges, while linemate Jeff Carter has looked more and more dangerous since returning from injury.
The Sabres are banged up, and the Jackets have been playing very good hockey. Stay out of the box, and get to Enroth early, and the Jackets can come away with a victory.
(Note: Lines are based on combinations used in practice yesterday and are subject to change)
('11-'12: 12-8-1, 25 Points; 3rd Division, 7th Conference)
By The Numbers ('11-'12 Season)
BUF - 2.81 G/G (13th)
CBJ - 2.29 G/G (26th)
BUF- 2.57 GA/G (13th)
CBJ - 3.29 GA/G (28th)
BUF - 20.5% (7th)
CBJ - 13.8% (24th)
BUF- 88.3% (4th)
CBJ - 73.6% (29th)
- The Sabres have three key players out with injuries- number one goalie Ryan Miller, forward Brad Boyes and defenseman Tyler Myers.
- Vinny Prospal continues to lead the Jackets in goal scoring and points, with 6 and 19 respectively. Tonight also marks his 1000th NHL game. Congrats Vinny!
- MacKenzie, Carter and Johansen remain the Jackets`only plus players.
- Thomas Vanek has been outstanding this season, currently sitting tied for third in the NHL in goals with 12 and is fifth in points with 25.
- Sabres captain Jason Pominville is only one point behind Vanek with 24.
- This is the second meeting of the year between these two teams, the Jackets lost 4-2 to the Sabres earlier this season.
- Curtis Sanford, who is 2-0-2 in the last four games, will look to continue his run of hot play.
- Columbus` top line of Nash, Carter and Prospal continues to build chemistry, while the second line of Umberger, Letestu and Johansen seems to have stagnated a bit in the scoring department. For the Jackets to be successful both lines need to be producing.
- It`s Black Friday in the `States, I hope your turkey hangovers aren`t packing too much of a wallop!