Tonight the Buffalo Sabres play their third game in the First Niagara Center and are in search of their first win of the season on friendly terrain. They do have one home win creditted to them, as one of the European games was considered a home contest. In Western New York however, the team still struggles to find the same magic they have had on the road.
Tonights opponent is the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets are looking for the reset button on their season, as they started the season going eight games without a win. Tuesday night they were finally able to muster together a win against the Detroit Red Wings. While the Sabres are going to try and erase the losing streak they are currently on, the Blue Jackets will look to start a win streak.
Looking further back into the history of the Blue Jackets, Tuesday was their first regulation win in their last 30 contests. Not a stat to be proud of when you are an organization that is trying to make the post season for only the second time in franchise history. The Blue Jackets have the worst points percentage of all active teams in the NHL over their first nine seasons, playing those games just shy of .500 hockey at .439.
Despite losing both of their home games at First Niagara Center this year, the Sabres were in both of those games, keeping the score close but ultimately not getting enough chances in areas where goals are scored, dropping the contests to Tampa Bay and Carolina. You don’t want to discount an opponent coming into your building, but tonights game against a lowly team in the league trying to find their way is no better way to end a drought of wins at home.
Keys to the game for Buffalo would be for Thomas Vanek to continue his hot streak. In eight games the Sabres winger has seven goals and four assists, for eleven points. That has him sitting fourth in the NHL in points, and third in goals. Sabres captain Jason Pominville is tied for the league lead in assists with eight helpers.
Despite coming into the new locker room to lead the defense and to help Tyler Myers evolve his game, Christian Erhoff has been a liability on defense, he ranks at the bottom of the roster with a -5 rating. Playing against the top lines is not going to help that stat. Ville Leino is the second worst Sabre in that category with a -3 rating. Defenseman Andrej Sekera leads the team with a plus six.
Columbus enters tonights contest with 13 players on their roster with a negative plus minus rating.
Puck drop is 7 PM tonight. Join us tonight for the first installment of our Live in Game Blog.