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Buffalo Sabres vs. Columbus Blue Jackets preview: The season begins

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The 2014-15 Sabres hockey season gets underway tonight at home against the Blue Jackets. Hockey is back, people!

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Game #1!

Buffalo Sabres (0-0-0) vs. 
Columbus Blue Jackets (0-0-0)

Puck Drop - 7:00pm EST | First Niagara Center | Buffalo, NY
TV - MSG, Bell-TV | Radio - WGR 550 - AM
SB Nation Blue Jackets Blog - The Cannon

Three Questions

1. Hockey!
That's not a question.

Hockey?
Yes, it's back! But let's go with a real question here.

How will #2 pick Sam Reinhart look in his NHL debut?
Reinhart had a fairly quiet preseason, but now things will ramp up another notch, both for the young center and his opponents. Reinhart's getting the free nine-game tryout, but can he do enough to convince the coaching staff he deserves to stay for the other 73? To do so, he'll have to make an impact early and often, and it all starts tonight. He's on a line with talented players in Cody Hodgson and Brian Gionta, and should get to play against choice competition on the third line. Let's see what the kid can do.

2. Whose youngsters will perform better?
The Sabres and Jackets are the two youngest teams in the league, with Columbus being slightly younger. Both teams have very young players in key roles, and whichever team's youth movement can rise to the occasion will likely have a big outcome on this game.

For the Sabres, that means Sam Reinhart, Zemgus Girgensons, and Rasmus Ristolainen. For the Blue Jackets, it's Marco Dano, and Alexander Wennberg. Let the battle of the babies begin.

3. Can the Sabres do anything tonight to convince us they'll be a different team in 2014 than they were in 2013?
Last year was awful for the Sabres team and their fans, but starting tonight, that's all in the past. This year will be different, but how different? Tonight might not be a preview of how the rest of the season will shake out, but it's a chance for the Sabres to raise a few eyebrows and get things started on the right foot. Of course, if they lay an egg, it's also an opportunity to prove all the naysayers right.

Win or lose, the 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres season starts tonight. Welcome back, hockey.

Projected BUF lines*

Moulson - Ennis - Stafford
Foligno - Girgensons - Stewart
Hodgson - Reinhart - Gionta
Deslauriers - McCormick - Flynn

Gorges - Myers
Benoit - Meszaros
Weber - Ristolainen

Goal: Jhonas Enroth

Scratches/Injuries: Mitchell, Kaleta, Pysyk, McCabe, Zadorov, Strachan
* These were just the lines in practice yesterday. We'll have to wait until tonight for confirmation on the playing roster.

Projected CBJ lines

Hartnell - Anisimov - Dano
Foligno - Johansen - Atkinson
Calvert - Letetsu - Wennberg
Skille - Chaput - Boll/Tropp

Johnson - Savard
Erixon - Wisniewski
Tyutin - Prout

Goal: Bobrovsky