Buffalo comes into tonight’s game having won just four of 12 all-time meetings with the Columbus Blue Jackets. But they are one of the few Western Conference teams that the Sabres seem to struggle with. Since 2005-06, Buffalo’s record of 47-30-9 (.599) against the Western Conference is second only to Pittsburgh’s 48-30-10 (.606) for the best record in the East. San Jose’s mark of 57-23-6 (.698) tops all NHL teams against the opposing conference. Somewhat surprisingly, Columbus is sixth overall during this same time frame with a record of 47-29-9 against Eastern opponents.
Even if you only face a team once or twice a year, all the video that’s used by players and coaches nowadays has pretty much eliminated the surprise factor when facing an unfamiliar foe.
“As players you’re not as familiar with the individuals as you would be with a team that you face five or six times a year,” explains defenseman Robyn Regehr
. “But with everything that’s available now in terms of video and pre-scouting tools, you’re pretty much aware of a team’s systems and their tendencies before the game even starts.”
Before joining the Sabres in a trade this past June, Regehr had played his entire 12-year career out west with the Calgary Flames. They’ve also had a tremendous amount success against the East since the 2005-06 season, compiling a record of 46-28-14 (.603) – good for seventh in the NHL. Regehr said that getting off to a good start is the key to success both home and away no matter who you are facing, but the Flames had their own reasons for wanting to get the jump on the visiting team in Calgary.
“When we were playing an Eastern team at home, you always wanted to get on them early because of Calgary being a little higher in altitude – not quite as bad as Colorado – teams could still feel the thin air a little bit when coming in there. A good start was always the key to the game.
“But when we were out on the road against the East, we always wanted to get off to as good a start as possible. This was simply for the reason that when you look at the stats throughout the season, usually the team that is playing with the lead, the percentages of them winning the game are much higher than coming from behind.”
is expected to get his second start of the season for Buffalo tonight. In his only previous start, the 23-year-old Swede turned away 29 shots in a 3-2 win at Pittsburgh. Enroth is 1-0-0 all-time against Columbus, earning the win in 29 minutes of action (12 saves/15 shots) at Nationwide Arena in Buffalo’s final game last season.
The Blue Jackets enter First Niagara Center with a record of 1-7-1, just having won their first game of the season against Detroit on Tuesday. Lindy Ruff said the Sabres can’t look past Columbus regardless of their early season struggles.
“On any given night, if you’re not playing well you can get beat by anybody,” Ruff explained. “If you look back to the Ottawa game, it was a game that slipped away for them in the last minute that they should’ve won. I think they’ve got it back on track, and we’re going to have our hands full. They’ve got some elite players that can hurt you.”