Sabres host Blue Jackets to start season

Main storyline: You know what time it is. It’s opening night for many NHL teams and the Sabres host the Blue Jackets at the First Niagara Center to begin another season of Buffalo hockey. Sam Reinhart will make his NHL debut for the blue and gold as both teams look to start the year off on the right foot. 

Season series: This is the first of three meetings this season and the only time the Sabres will host Columbus. Buffalo will make trips in February and April to close the series. The Blue Jackets took the season series last year, winning a pair of games in Buffalo (one via shootout) and dropping the final meeting on home ice. 

Where they stand: You can read up on all the projections and lists of odds, but they never go exactly as predicted. With the acquisitions of Brian Gionta and Josh Gorges, some say the Sabres should be climbing closer to a playoff spot, while others are hopeful of a higher chance of winning the draft lottery in June. The Blue Jackets are looking to return to the postseason and overcome a playoff loss to the Penguins.

Recent performance: It’s been over six months since the last time Buffalo fans were able to enjoy a victory. The Sabres knocked off the Devils in a shootout, 3-2, but dropped the final seven games to end the regular season. They went 2-3-1 during the preseason, defeating Carolina and Washington for the victories. The Blue Jackets are coming off a season in which they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins, four games to two. Three third period goals weren’t enough to overcome a 4-0 deficit in Game six, and their season came to end on home ice. Columbus lost just once during the preseason, again to the Penguins, but have shown some positive signs of success.

Buffalo notes: Along with Reinhart, Gorges and Gionta will make their Sabres debuts tonight. Mikhail Grigorenko will begin the season in Rochester. The Sabres named their leadership group on Tuesday, awarding the captaincy to Gionta and giving the alternates to Gorges and Moulson.

Opponent notes: The Blue Jackets inked Ryan Johnasen to a three-yeal deal on Monday, but they await his arrival to see if he will be ready to go against Buffalo. Brandon Dubinsky was placed on injured reserved.

Conclusion: It’s opening night! Welcome back the season by watching Buffalo host the Blue Jackets. Tonight’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m. and can be seen on MSG and heard on WGR 550. 

Kevin Freiheit
Kevin Freiheit
I founded Buffalo Hockey Central in 2008 and have poured hours and hours into this site. Luckily, we have a great team of writers and designers who have helped keep this up and running despite a ton of out-of-pocket costs. We do this because we enjoy it, and we're desperate to see the Sabres win the Cup someday, but they have to make the playoffs first.
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