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Sabres vs. Blue Jackets preview: Fan Appreciation Night

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It's the last home game of the season for the Sabres, and they'll try to send the crowd home happy with a win over, fittingly enough, Columbus.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Game #81

Buffalo Sabres (34-35-11) vs.
Columbus Blue Jackets (32-40-8)

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

Three Questions

1. How will Schneider, Rodrigues, and Kasdorf look in their NHL debuts?

In case you missed the news yesterday, the Sabres recalled Cole Schneider and Evan Rodrigues from Rochester, and both are expected to get their first career NHL start tonight. Rodrigues is the bigger name, having played with Eichel at Boston University, but he'll be on the fourth line tonight. He has 28 points for the Amerks in his rookie year.

Schneider, however, is the more interesting story. He's a native of Williamsville, NY, and was the main piece coming back in the AHL trade that the Sabres and Sentaors made back in February. The 25-year old rookie, who's seen success in the AHL scoring 50+ points in each of his last three seasons, will now get to put on the jersey of his hometown team and get a chacne to play on the top line with Ryan O'Reilly and Zemgus Girgensons, who plays with Schneider in their summer league. Quite an amazing moment for the kid from Western New York.

Also making his first NHL appearance is Jason Kasdorf, the 23-year old former RPI goalie who was the forgotten man in the big Winnipeg trade last year. Standing 6'3'', the 2011 sixth-round pick had a very nice season for RPI, and was signed to his entry level deal a few weeks ago. After spending a few weeks healing from injury, it looks like he'll get his first crack at NHL competition tonight, giving Chad Johnson a well-deserved break.

2. Who will win this year's team awards?

The Sabres will be presenting their team awards tonight, as voted on by the players themselves. The categories are:

- Team MVP (Last year: Tyler Ennis)
- Rookie of the Year (Nic Deslauriers)
- Unsung Hero (Mike Weber)
- Sabres Foundation Man of the Year
- 7th Man Fan of the Year (feel free to vote for yourself here)

Give us your predictions on who will win the team awards this season, then tune in to the pregame show starting at 6:30pm to see if you were right.

3. It's Fan Appreciation Night! Will Sabres fans in attendance feel sufficiently appreciated?

As in previous years, the Sabres are amping things up for their fans in attendance tonight, with giveaways during the game, a guaranteed 50/50 pot of $70,000, the "Jersey Off My Back" giveaway, a 30% discount at the Sabres store and discounted concessions, and free mini-sticks to the first 5,000 fans through the gate.

If you're watching from home, you can join the action as well. The Sabres broadcast will be showing a website where you can enter to win autographed Eichel and Reinhart jerseys as well as other prizes, and the team is also offering double Fan Advantage Points for tonight's game.

Of course, nothing would make us feel more appreciated than a fun, exciting Sabres win. Buffalo opened their home schedule this year with a 4-2 victory over Columbus, and followed it up with a 4-0 shutout the next time they met, so a win tonight in the final home game (with one last Jack Eichel highlight-reel goal) would be a sweet bookend indeed.

Projected BUF lines

Girgensons - O'Reilly - Schneider
Deslauriers - Eichel - Reinhart
Foligno - Larsson - Gionta
Rodrigues - Legwand - Moulson

Gorges - Ristolainen
McCabe - Bogosian
Colaiacovo - Pysyk

Goal: Jason Kasdorf