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Game #25 Preview: Blue Jackets make TNT debut at home against Sabres

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NHL: SEP 28 Sabres at Blue Jackets Photo by Graham Stokes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Columbus Blue Jackets vs Buffalo Sabres
Wednesday December 7, 2022 - 7:30 PM EST
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
TV: TNT - Radio: 97.1FM
Opponent’s Blog: Die by the Blade

Columbus Blue Jackets, 8-14-2, 18 points, 8th Metro, 16th East
vs
Buffalo Sabres, 11-13-1, 23 points, 7th Atlantic, 13th East

The Blue Jackets look to avoid their third straight loss tonight when they take on the Buffalo Sabres on national television. Columbus has lost 5 of 6 and are the clear-cut last place team in the East. Let’s face it, the games haven’t been much fun to watch, and coaching decisions regarding lines and ice time have made the games that much more frustrating to watch. I’ve said it before and will say it again: If you’re going to be bad, at least make it fun to watch.

Take Buffalo for example, they sit near the bottom of the standings yet again, but there is no denying they are an exciting team to watch. Their young squad is one of the top scoring teams in the league. They also have cornerstone defensemen in Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power yet to come close to their primes. They are just a goaltender and some more NHL experience away from being a real threat in the Eastern Conference. They have embraced playing their young stars, and at least from an offensive standpoint are reaping the benefits.

If the Jackets want to get back into the win column, they will need to be tight defensively to keep that offense in check, and be able to put more than one or two pucks in the back of the net. With the way they have struggled with both of those things, it could be a long night.

Player to Watch

Johnny Gaudreau

I mean, he is one of the only reasons to watch this team right now. Johnny Hockey has come as advertised, playing at over a point-per-game clip. He is one of the very few players on the team who can create his own offense and make a play out of nothing. He’s not going to touch the 115 points he put up last year, but if he can keep playing at this pace for a full 82 games, in my opinion it would be more impressive considering the offensive system he is playing in.

Currently, he is on a five game point streak (2-7-9) and has points in 9 of his last 10 games. Look for that to continue tonight as he will probably see another night of 20+ minutes TOI.

Jackets Notes

Head Coach Brad Larsen continues to run his first line into the ground, skating them over 20 minutes a night while also trotting out his fourth line more than anybody should ever do. Outside of the top line and Gus Nyquist, the Blue Jackets forward who saw the most ice time was Eric Robinson. It’s no surprise the offense is scoring 1 or 2 goals a game most nights when the fourth line is getting second line minutes.

While there is no denying Cole Sillinger is in a sophomore slump, playing him 8 minutes a night is probably going to do more harm than good. Cole actually played well last night, putting up some of the better advanced stats before he was stapled to the bench later in the game. Kirill Marchenko barely skated 10 minutes in his debut, with much of it coming on the power play.

What is the point of not playing the young guys if you are still losing games? That is by far the most frustrating part of this season to date. It feels like Brad Larsen is coaching for his job by playing the players he “trusts,” yet they are still losing.

So what exactly are we doing here?

The Other Bench

Buffalo has proven to be an offensive juggernaut this year, ranking third in the league in offense. Their young team is led by Tage Thompson on offense, who is continuing his torrid output from his breakout season last year with 34 points in 26 games. Rasmus Dahlin has blossomed into the bonafide #1 defenseman the Sabres envisioned when they drafted him first overall. He is also over a point-per-game on the blue line with 29 points in 24 games.

Young stars like Dylan Cozens (NHL 2nd Star of the Week), Jack Quinn, Alux Tuch and Owen Power make Buffalo a very exciting young team to watch. They’ll most likely be adding another fairly high draft pick this coming offseason, and will be a team to watch out for in the near future. Once they can lock down a legitimate #1 goalie and fill out their defense, they will be set for years to come.

Season Series

12/7/22 BUF @ CBJ
12/27/22 CBJ @ BUF
2/28/22 CBJ @ BUF

Stats

Buffalo Columbus
3.8 (3) GPG 2.87 (24)
3.44 (24) GAPG 3.96 (31)
27.4% (6) PP% 15.5% (31)
70.6% (27) PK% 77.8% (20)
52.6% (7) 5v5 Shot Attempt % 44.65% (30)
50.94% (12) 5v5 Unblocked shot attempt % 44.85% (29)
9.42 (5) 5v5 Shooting % 8.94 (8)
.909(26) 5v5 Save % .897 (31)
Tage Thompson, 16 G Leader Boone Jenner, 9
Rasmus Dahlin, 21 A Leader Johnny Gaudreau, 18
Tage Thompson, 34 P Leader Johnny Gaudreau, 27
Rasmus Dahlin, 36 PIM Leader Mathieu Olivier, 37
5-5-0 Home / Road 6-9-1
4-5-1 Last 10 4-5-1

Projected Lines

Columbus Blue Jackets

Patrik Laine Boone Jenner Johnny Gaudreau
Gus Nyquist Jack Roslovic Kent Johnson
Yegor Chinakhkov Cole Sillinger Kirill Marchenko
Eric Robinson Sean Kuraly Mathieu Olivier
Vladislav Gavrikov Marcus Bjork
Jake Christiansen Erik Gudbranson
Gavin Bayreuther Andrew Peeke
Elvis Merzlikins
Joonas Korpisalo

Buffalo Sabres

Jeff Skinner Tage Thompson Alex Tuch
Jack Quinn Dylan Cozens John Jason Peterka
Casey Mittelstadt Tyson Jost Victor Olofsson
Zemgus Girgensons Peyton Krebs Kyle Okposo
Mattias Samuelsson Rasmus Dahlin
Owen Power Henri Jokiharju
Jacob Bryson Casey Fitzgerald
Craig Anderson
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen