Preview: Rumble in Columbus
Important ‘show me’ game for arching Buffalo team
Buffalo Sabres (6-4-0) vs Columbus Blue Jackets (5-4-0)
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM | Nationwide Arena | Columbus, OH
TV: MSG-B, FSOH
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Blue Jackets Blog: Jackets Cannon
Know Your Opponent
Columbus Blue Jackets
Record: (5-4-0) | 10 PTS
Last 10: 5-4-0
Division Ranking: 3rd in the Metropolitan Division
Conference Ranking: 8th in the Eastern Conference
PP: 21st (16.7%)
PK: 27th (71.4%)
What to Watch
1. FOUR IN A ROW?
It feels like the last time a Buffalo team was looking at four in a row, there was a lot of heartbreak. But this is hockey, not football; and this is the regular season and not four Super Bowls.
Regardless, this game feels big - perhaps bigger than it should. This is another good matchup, and these are the types of games that fans want to see this team win. Both teams can score; both teams are prone to give up goals. Buffalo has an edge on special teams, but have run hot-and-cold. Columbus’ superior even strength scoring could be a concern.
Can the Sabres stifle the Blue Jackets’ offensive prowess? Can a Buffalo team win four in a row?
2. Punching up
Buffalo has has a balanced schedule through the first ten games. The team has played a handful of games against teams that fall below them in the standings, and an equal handful against clubs with a better record.
In the last two games, Buffalo has taken down teams that are competing at the top of their divisions. It’s a huge step forward for the organization after several seasons of yielding to the will of stronger opponents.
A win against Columbus would put further distance between the two in Eastern Conference standings. This early set of points could easily be a difference-maker in a wild card race later in the season.
Everyone’s favorite nosebleed refrain may carry more weight than anyone might have suspected. In the Sabres’ three consecutive wins, the team has outshot their opponent 113-70. At a standard 10 percent shooting percentage, that’s four goals in those three games.
When coach Phil Housley came to Buffalo from Nashville, it was clear that his system revolved around a high shot rate. This is evident in the team’s success - shoot more, score more. The Sabres need to ensure they are getting the puck on net as much as possible in order to continue their successes.
Jeff Skinner - Jack Eichel - Jason Pominville
Conor Sheary - Casey Mittelstadt - Kyle Okposo
Evan Rodrigues - Vladimir Sobotka - Sam Reinhart
Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Patrik Berglund
Jake McCabe - Rasmus Ristolainen
Marcus Scandella - Zach Bogosian
Rasmus Dahlin - Casey Nelson
Starting Goaltender: Linus Ullmark
Columbus Blue Jackets
Artemi Panarin - Pierre-Luc Dubois - Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno - Boone Jenner - Josh Anderson
Oliver Bjorkstrand - Alexander Wennberg - Anthony Duclair
Markus Hannikainen - Riley Nash - Lukas Sedlak
Zach Werenski - Seth Jones
Ryan Murray - Markus Nutivaara
Scott Harrington - David Savard
Starting Goaltender: Joonas Korpisalo