Welcome to the trap game.
After the Jackets put the hammer down on Washington last night, it's so easy to say "Well, it's just Buffalo." They're still at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, with just 32 points, and are 4-3-3 over their last ten games.
But things are afoot in the land of the anchor bar. With new GM Tim Murray taking the reins, it's been made clear that no job is guaranteed. Every player on that Buffalo bench wants to make a good impression. They're motivated, they've had a few days to rest up and practice after falling to the Leafs in a shootout on Wednesday night, and they'd like nothing better than to bring the Jackets back down to earth.
As far as we know, Fedor Tyutin is still out with the flu, and unless I hear otherwise I'd assume the team will roll with the same lineup as last night.
Keys to the Game:
- Keep Cool - There have been some pretty serious sparks between these teams over the past few years, and their first meeting this season was no exception. The Jackets have to make sure they play smart, and keep out of the box. The Sabres' PP isn't great, but they have guys like Steve Ott and John Scott who make their living by getting under your skin and provoking their opponents.
- Eyes On The Prize - You can't assume this is a gimme game. The Sabres aren't great, but most of their wins have come at home. They're doing a good job of keeping pucks out of their own net - the problem is that they're not scoring. The Jackets have to come out swinging, get shots on net, and skate hard. Get a lead and drop the hammer.
- Close Quarters - Guys like Matt Moulson, Cody Hodgson, and Tyler Ennis aren't household names, but they've got speed, hands, and more talent than this season's results reflect. Columbus has to keep tight on these guys and keep them from turning this into a track meet.
Two points tonight would be huge. This is an opportunity to pick up some points against a team that's still trying to find a way to turn themselves around. Get it done, get the points, and keep moving up the ladder.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(23-20-4, 50 Points; 6th division, 11th conference)
|Matt Calvert||Brandon Dubinsky||Cam Atkinson|
|Boone Jenner||Artem Anisimov||Nathan Horton|
|Nick Foligno||Ryan Johansen||R.J. Umberger|
|Derek MacKenzie||Mark Letestu||Corey Tropp|
|Jack Johnson||Dalton Prout|
|Ryan Murray||James Wisniewski|
|Nikita Nikitin||David Savard|
(13-27-6, 32 Points; 8th Division, 16th Conference)
|Matt Moulson||Tyler Ennis||Zemgus Girgensons|
|Steve Ott||Cody Hodgson||Matt D'Agostini|
|Drew Stafford||Ville Leino||Brian Flynn|
|John Scott||Zenon Konopka||Matt Ellis|
|Christian Ehrhoff||Mark Pysyk|
|Mike Weber||Tyler Myers|
|Alexander Sulzer||Jamie McBain|
10/10/2013 - Columbus 4 @ Buffalo 1
1/18/2014 - Columbus @ Buffalo
1/25/2014 - Buffalo @ Columbus
Head to Head Stats
Buffalo Columbus 1.67 (30) GPG 2.79 (10) 2.74 (16) GAPG 2.79 (19) 13.2% (28) PP% 18.6 (17) 82.4% (13) PK% 80.0 (20) Tyler Ennis / Cody Hodgson, 10 G leader Ryan Johansen, 18 Christian Ehrhoff, 16 A leader James Wisniewski, 23 Cody Hodgson, 23 Pts leader Ryan Johansen, 36 John Scott, 70 PIM leader Brandon Dubinsky, 78 9-13-3 Road/Home 11-11-2 1/15 v. Toronto L, 4-3 (SO) Last Game 1/17 vs. Washington, W 5-1 4-3-3 Last 10 7-3-0