Tonight the Buffalo Sabres (13-27-6) host the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets (23-20-4) at the First Niagara Center. This is the second time the two teams have met, but the first under new coach Ted Nolan.
The last meeting between the two teams was back on October 10th – when Darcy Regier and Ron Rolston were still in charge. The woeful Sabres got near torn apart by the Blue Jackets, losing in a 4-1 effort, or lack there of.
While the landscape in Buffalo is different this time around, there is a historic factor that the Buffalo Sabres have never really done well consistently against the Blue Jackets. Buffalo is 4-5-0 all time at home against CBJ. Despite the mediocre showing against the them – November 22, 2002 was the first win in the National Hockey League for Ryan Miller – a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
While it has seemed like ages since the two teams last played, they will play once again, this time in Columbus, next Saturday to finish the season series between the two teams.
The Buffalo Sabres are looking to bounce back after an entertaining game against the Toronto Maple Leafs ended poorly in the shootout. I don’t think I have ever seen a game where Ryan Miller looked so uncomfortable in all three rounds of the shootout, allowing three goals on three shots. Not a good sign if that is a trend that will continue where games at Sochi will rely heavily on the shootout to end the games that see the scored tied.
Columbus is a second half team. Once the game clock spins past 40 – the team turns it on. Like last year, at this point, the team has won their last five games and are only three points behind the very catchable Washington Capitals. The Pittsburgh Penguins have a very dominating lead in the metropolitan division, and are likely out of reach for the Blue Jackets.
While Buffalo is looking to further secure the highest percentage in the draft lottery for the number one pick, Columbus is looking for just their second bid to the playoffs in the teams history, their first since 2009. Columbus has never won a playoff game (they were swept in the first round of the 2009 playoffs by the Detroit Red Wings).
Game time is scheduled for 7PM.