The Buffalo Sabres host their third home game in a week as the Columbus Blue Jackets make their first visit as an Eastern Conference member on Thursday night. The Sabres have yet to win a game on the young 2013-14 season and will look to try and buck that trend against a team that they have some recent success against by winning three of their last four matchups.
The Sabres should be fielding a lineup that will be missing one of their 2012 first round draft picks. After being demoted to the fourth line toward the end of the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Mikhail Grigorenko appears to be sitting in the press box in favor for forward Johan Larsson. In three games this season, Grigorenko doesn't have a point and is averaging eleven minutes per game. Larsson, on the other hand, has averaged eight minutes a game and shown some of the same struggles that Grigorenko has.
Puck Drop - 7:00pm EST - First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY
TV - MSG | Radio - WGR 550-AM
SBNation Blue Jackets Blog - The Cannon (Please play nice if you're going to visit.)
Three Things To Watch For
1.) Can the Sabres actually close out a game?
The Buffalo Sabres have had some competitive games this season on home ice but just haven't had the knack to be able to close the game out for the full two points. Against the Senators, the Sabres held the game scoreless until Ottawa took the lead with 1:35 left in the third period. The Lightning tied the game with ten minutes left in the third period and scored the game winner just 1:50 into the overtime period.
If the Sabres are going to be able to claim they are going to grow as a team, they have to be able to find a way to close out games. The Blue Jackets haven't played since Saturday night so they will have an extra jump in their step due to the rest. The Sabres will have to be able to match that and find a way to get the puck in the back of the net.
2.) How will Ryan Miller look in his return?
Jhonas Enroth has played the last two games for the Sabres as Ryan Miller was resting a sore groin. He returns against a team that he's had some limited experience with. In six games played, Miller has a 2-2 record with a 2.11 goals against average,.915 save percentage, and one shutout. Miller had been riding a hot hand in his first two games as he only allowed three goals on 80 shots before injuring his groin in the game against Ottawa.
3.) Who will win the battle of the Foligno brothers?
Both Marcus and Nick Foligno will be on the ice against each other for the second time in the NHL. Their first matchup came when Nick was with the Ottawa Senators on March 10, 2012. In that game, Marcus scored his first career NHL goal while Nick registered an assist in the game.
Marcus was made his debut with the Sabres in the 2011-12 season after being drafted in the fourth round in the 2010 Draft. Nick was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in 2006 and played with them for five seasons before being traded to Columbus in 2012. Nick currently has one goal in two games with the Blue Jackets this year while Marcus has yet to register a point with his first game coming on Tuesday night.