October 9, 2014 - 7:00 pm EDT
First Niagara Center - Buffalo, New York
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent's Blog: Die By The Blade
We've done all of the gnashing of teeth that we can do about the injuries, the missed camp of Ryan Johansen, and all of the other factors. All that's left to do is to close our eyes and jump. For good or ill, the season starts tonight, whether the team is ready and in top form or not. You wanna fly? Close your eyes and jump!
The Jackets have their question marks, as we know, but the schedule makers gave them a bit of a favor in sending them to Buffalo for their first game. This Sabres team should be better than last year's raging tire fire, but by how much? They managed to re-sign Matt Moulson, they added Brian Gionta for the dressing room, and also brought in guys like Andrej Meszaros and Andre Benoit to try to shore up their defense.
That said, defensively, they lost Christian Ehrhoff and of course Ryan Miller. You don't replace those guys right away.
When you look at the top six for the Sabres, it's not terrible... on paper. That said, there's no getting around that this team was a terrible, terrible offensive team, with many of those same guys in the lineup. #2 overall pick Sam Reinhart will get his first taste of the NHL, and will play alongside new Captain Gionta.
Here's the thing: this Sabres team--or, at least a reasonable comparison of it--beat Columbus last season (IN COLUMBUS) when the Jackets were playing arguably their best hockey of the season: the Sabres ended the Jackets' eight-game winning streak back in January.
For the Jackets, the lineup below is a representation of how they looked in practice on Wednesday, and as we know with Todd Richards all things are subject to change at any time without notice. We'll update after the morning skate, which is around 11:30 today.
I know Columbus doesn't roll their four line traditionally (anything in the top-nine can go out in any situation), but it's interesting to note that Marko Dano slots in on the "top" line. Remember that Boone Jenner did the same last year, and despite playing well in the pre-season Jenner struggled out of the gate last season. We may need to expect the same from Dano as well as Alexander Wennberg.
All of this having been said, it's the first game of the season. I'll be eating my customary Chipotle burrito for lunch, and I'll see you all in the Game Thread (though I may be late because I'll be putting my son to bed). Can't wait!!
Columbus Blue Jackets
(Last Season: 43-32-7, 93 Points; 4th division, 7th conference)
|Scott Hartnell||Artem Anisimov||Marko Dano|
|Nick Foligno||Ryan Johansen||Cam Atkinson|
|Matt Calvert||Mark Letestu||Alexander Wennberg|
|Jack Skille||Michael Chaput||Corey Tropp / Jared Boll|
|Jack Johnson||David Savard|
|Tim Erixon||James Wisniewski|
|Fedor Tyutin||Dalton Prout|
(Last Season: 21-51-10, 52 Points; 8th Division, 16th Conference)
|Matt Moulson||Tyler Ennis||Drew Stafford|
|Cody Hodgson||Sam Reinhart||Brian Gionta|
|Marcus Foligno||Zemgus Girgensons||Chris Stewart|
|Nicolas Deslauriers||Cody McCormick||Brian Flynn|
|Josh Gorges||Tyler Myers|
|Andre Benoit||Andrej Meszaros|
|Rasmus Ristolainen||Mike Weber|
10/09/14 - Columbus at Buffalo
02/24/15 - Buffalo at Columbus
04/10/15 - Buffalo at Columbus
'13-'14 Head to Head Stats
|1.83 (30)||GPG||2.76 (12)|
|2.96 (25)||GAPG||2.61 (13)|
|14.1% (29)||PP%||19.3% (11)|
|81.4% (20)||PK%||82.1% (14)|
|Tyler Ennis, 21||G leader||Ryan Johansen, 33|
|Christian Ehrhoff, 27||A leader||James Wisniewski, 44|
|Cody Hodgson, 44||Pts leader||Ryan Johansen, 63|
|John Scott, 125||PIM leader||
Brandon Dubinsky, 98