After the one day work stoppage for the NHL in honor of the American Thanksgiving holiday, the league gets right back down to business with a busy Black Friday. All but four NHL teams get back to work at sometime today. Boston and Detroit kick things off with the Boston Bruins Black Friday event, in its 21st annual year, with only work stoppages in 1994 and 2004 interrupting the Boston tradition.
Only the Colorado Avalanche, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, and Nashville Predators have tonight off in what is one of the busies shopping and NHL days of the year. With the Buffalo Sabres partaking in this years Black Friday games, they face off against Western Conference foes the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Follow the jump for more on tonight’s contest.
A quick look at the standings shows that the Columbus Blue Jackets are no real threat to the playoff picture in the Western Conference, in fact they are owners of the worst record in the league coming into tonight’s game, one point worse than the New York Islanders. While our own Blue and Gold find themselves in 7th place, a Detroit win this afternoon could have them in position to be right back in the division lead, and holding the second place position (would be tied with the Florida Panthers but Sabres would have more regulation wins). Given the fact that the Sabres are on the road as the best road team against the worst team in the NHL period, the Buffalo Sabres could be in better shape after tonight.
The Sabres, despite their recent winning woes, have a three game win streak going against the hockey club from Ohio extending back to their win against the Blue Jackets on their fan appreciation night.
The biggest story following the Buffalo Sabres right now is their injury list, Tyler Ennis, Ryan Miller, Cody McCormick, Tyler Myers, and Brad Boyes are all on that list, and according the Buffalo Sabres website, Jochen Hecht – though he played in Boston.
The Blue Jackets skate into tonights game with a winning record in their last few games, but are still carrying around the abysmal weight of the two win start through the first fifteen games of the season. The Sabres need to just play their road game and should be able to walk away with two points and return to the rotating perch atop the standings. I don’t want to call it an easy two points, despite their woeful place in the standings, the Columbus Blue Jackets are still a member of the National Hockey League, and can muster together win here and there.
The Sabres were pleased with their efforts in probably the only NHL game to be as complete as can be in 65+ minutes of NHL contest. There was physical play, back and forth action, overtime, special teams, fights, spirited batteld, a shootout, and a victor. Despite the victor being the red hot Bruins, if there was a national spotlight on the biggest party night of the year, the league couldn’t have picked a better game.
Faceoff tonight is scheduled for 7 PM.
Despite his better than average statistics – tonight might be a good night to give Jhonas Enroth a rest and play third string goaltender Drew McIntyre. If the injury to Ryan Miller is going to go long term – the team might need to schedule a few games off for the Swedish Meatball. The way this team is playing in front of their backup, and with the number of AHL players on the roster for the Sabres, it might be an opportunity to get McIntyre is the fire and see how he does. Drew McIntrye was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in 2011, with a fourth round pick.