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Game Preview #81 – Close Out The Nat In Style

Buffalo Sabres at Columbus Blue Jackets

April 10, 2015 – 7:00 pm EDT
Nationwide Arena – Columbus, Ohio
Radio – WBNS 97.1 FM – TV – Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent’s Blog: Die By The Blade

We know there can’t possibly be as much drama as last year’s final home game, but the Blue Jackets have made this one worthy of attendance.

Think about it: as bad as this season has been in stretches, this team–THIS team–finishes with 40+ wins for just the third time ever. The other two times were the two playoff teams. The 2009 playoff squad finished with 41 wins. A win tonight matches that, and if they can somehow earn a win tomorrow, they would eclipse that mark.

But, perhaps most importantly, we saw on Wednesday what THIS team–now basically healthy–can do to a bad team. They flat-out embarrassed the Leafs en route to a 5-0 stomping. Tonight has the potential to be just as dominant, assuming the Jackets keep doing what they’ve been doing. Granted, the Sabres have been pluckier than the Leafs of late, but they’re still a sub-60 point team with a goal differential worse than -100. Think about that for a minute.

In short, this shouldn’t end the way the last meeting between these clubs did, when Columbus may have been at their lowest point. After losing to Buffalo, the Jackets went on to lose five of the next six. And then, ya know, 13-1-1.

Some good news: Cam Atkinson appears to be OK to play after cutting his hand on a skate during the post-game bench celebration BECAUSE THIS SEASON OF COURSE HE DID. Also, Tyutin appears to be good to go, and will draw in for Justin Falk. Me likey.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(40-35-5, 83 Points; 6th division, 12th conference)

Boone Jenner Ryan Johansen Cam Atkinson
Scott Hartnell Alexander Wennberg Marko Dano
Brandon Dubinsky Artem Anisimov Nick Foligno
Matt Calvert Mark Letestu Jeremy Morin

Jack Johnson David Savard
Ryan Murray Cody Goloubef
Fedor Tyutin Dalton Prout

Sergei Bobrovsky
Curtis McElhinney

Buffalo Sabres
(23-49-8, 54 Points; 8th Division, 16th Conference)

Matt Moulson Johan Larsson Tyler Ennis
Marcus Foligno Mikhail Grigorenko Brian Gionta
Nicolas Deslauriers Phil Varone Zac Dalpe
Cody Hodgson Matt Ellis Patrick Kaleta

Tyson Strachan Zach Bogosian
Andrej Meszaros Rasmus Ristolainen
Andre Benoit Nikita Zadorov

Anders Lindback
Andrey Makarov

Season Series

BUF – 1-1-0
CBJ – 1-1-0

10/09/14 – Columbus 3 at Buffalo 1
02/24/15 – Buffalo 4 at Columbus 2
04/10/15 – Buffalo at Columbus

Head to Head Stats

Buffalo Columbus
1.89 (30) GPG 2.74 (15)
3.29 (29) GAPG 3.02 (25)
13.1% (30) PP% 21.7% (5)
75.0% (30) PK% 80.1% (23)
Tyler Ennis, 20 G leader Nick Foligno, 30
Matt Moulson, 28 A leader Ryan Johansen, 44
Tyler Ennis, 45 Pts leader Nick Foligno, 72
Nicolas Deslauriers, 71 PIM leader Jared Boll, 109
9-28-3 Road/Home 18-20-2
3-6-1 Last 10 9-0-1
4/6 vs. Carolina, W 4-3 Last Game 4/8 vs. Toronto, W 5-0