Game Preview: Blue Jackets Will Try To Ride Their Winning Wave Against Floundering Buffalo Sabres

By Sam Blazer on March 31, 2019 at 7:05 am
Pierre-Luc Dubois attempts to hammer the puck home against the Buffalo Sabres goaltender

Kevin Hoffman-USA Today Sports

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The Columbus Blue Jackets know they control their destiny now. If they win out, they are in, and they don't have to worry about other teams. They get an easier matchup against the Buffalo Sabres. If they have learned anything though, nothing is guaranteed. 

BUF
BUFFALO SABRES
31–37–10 (72 points)
ROSTER / SCHEDULE

7 P.M. – SUNDAY, MARCH 31
KEYBANK CENTER
BUFFALO, NY

FOX SPORTS OHIO
FOX SPORTS GO

The offense is clicking, and because of it, they don't have to be on their "A" game all the time. Against the Sabres, this could be classified as a trap game, but they need to close the door early, so they don't let them gain any confidence. "A" game or not, they need to start quickly to get them on their heels.

After a ten-game winning streak early in the season, the Sabres have fallen apart. They are now near the bottom of the standings and at one point were competing for a wild card spot. They have good young players, but it just hasn't worked for them this year.

Playing without Rasmus Ristolainen and Jake McCabe, the Sabres are shorthanded. They don't have the horses necessary to keep up with the best players in the league, and now their depth has been exposed.

Here's a look at tonight's projected lines for the Blue Jackets:

Forwards

Panarin–Duchene–Atkinson
Dzingel–Dubois–Anderson
Wennberg–Jenner–Bjorkstrand
Foligno–Dubinsky–Nash

Defenseman

Werenski–Jones
Nutivaara–Savard
Kukan–Harrington

Goaltenders

Bobrovsky

Storylines

  • Jack Eichel is still out there playing for the Sabres. He is one of the best players in the entire league, but even as he continues to put up points, he can't single-handedly win the game for his team. Eichel is going to be the player to watch for and will be the center of all of the offense. 
  • How will the Blue Jackets come out on a back-to-back? They have the playoffs in their sights and a business-like approach but is that enough to avoid a possible trap game? They need to take this game like any other, and it will be tough to do so.
  • This will be another opportunity to make your depth count. The Blue Jackets likely don't need their best players playing 20 minutes, and it will be interesting to see if they can lean on the 2nd and 3rd lines to lead the way. Just how different will their strategy be as they begin to think playoff positioning and not just making the big dance?

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