Columbus Blue Jackets (43-32-7) at Buffalo Sabres (21-51-10)
|Date & Time||Thursday October 9, 2014, 7:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Buffalo Sabres / Columbus Blue Jackets --- Over/Under:
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The Buffalo Sabres look to rebound after a lousy 2013-14 season and they kick things off at home against an up and coming Columbus Blue Jackets team.
The Blue Jackets were once perennial league doormats who you could count on for 50-60 losses but those days are in the past as the last few seasons have been a nice building block for what should be a playoff berth and a possible first round victory this season. Columbus plays in the Metropolitan division and slipped into the playoffs a season ago but with the Rangers regressing and question marks surrounding the Penguins this could be the year that the Jackets get over the hump and become a contender in the Eastern Conference. They have re-signed Ryan Johansen after some turmoil in his contract negotiations and with the likes of Brandon Dubinksy, Nathan Horton, Scott Hartnell, and Nick Foligno up front they should have some offensive fire power to complement their strong goaltending. Their blue line needs a bit of work though it is serviceable especially against a Buffalo Sabres team that will be hard pressed to improve on last year’s abysmal season as they’re in for another long year of rebuilding.
The Sabres finished the season with the NHL’s worst record a year ago and were in the limelight of a lot of trades at the deadline last season as long time faces Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller found new homes by season’s end. Buffalo drafted Sam Reinhart with the second overall pick and while it is uncertain as to whether they will keep the youngster in their lineup this season it is nice to know they have some great talent coming up as he has the potential to be a franchise type talent in the offensive end. Buffalo added some pieces as they brought in Brian Gionta and Josh Gorges from the Montreal Canadiens and re-signed Matt Moulson to add to a forward unit that includes Chris Stewart and Drew Stafford. Jhonas Enroth is slated to get the majority of the starts in the Buffalo crease this season and though he had a tough go a year ago he has the talent to be a starter in this league and that is exactly what we will see out of him this season. While I am not convinced this Buffalo team is done their rebuild I do think they have a lot more potential to be competitive this season despite being without Vanek and Miller and in this spot in the early going of the season they are more than worth a shot as a home dog.