It is the debut every Sabres fan has been waiting for. Some have been saying to call Zack Kassian up since he signed his entry level contract and appeared in a handful of games for Portland last year.
Zack Kassian will make his much anticipated NHL debut in Columbus this evening. John Vogl reports the big winger will skate with Luke Adam and Matt Ellis. A wise choice by Ruff to put Kassian with the center he skated with for nearly the entire summer. That will give him some familiarity for this contest.
Kassian will need to play a physical game this evening. His draft position was determined by his physical play and scoring touch. He hasn’t shown much physical edge since breaking into the professional ranks and he needs to find that side of his game if he has any hope of becoming an NHL regular.
Buffalo’s biggest challenge tonight will be to find continuity as they enter yet another game with some sort of change to their lineup. While Kassian is the newest face; Jochen Hecht, Corey Tropp and Matt Ellis will all be shifted from their roles on Wednesday.
Columbus is entering the game with Curtis Sanford and Allen York as their goaltenders for the contest. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering Steve Mason has had seriously terrible season (3.63 GAA & .875 SV%) while Sanford is sporting a 1.33 GAA and a .946 SV%, granted that is in only five games of action.
Buffalo’s previous victory over Columbus came on the shoulders of a brilliant performance by Jhonas Enroth as the Blue Jackets out shot the Sabres 43-26. Buffalo’s special teams were deadly in the last meeting and both units have been impressive throughout the year and will continue to key wins and losses for this team. Especially if they continue to struggle with injuries.
Buffalo penalty kill. The Sabres power play gave them a 2-0 lead on Wednesday night, T.J. Brennan made it 3-1. However, the penalty kill failed them, allowing a pair of goals (including the tying tally) as the Sabres found a way to lose to the Bruins. The penalty kill is missing plenty of pieces (Kaltea, Myers, Weber) and will need to shore up for this evening.
BUF: Jhonas Enroth 12GP 7-2-1, 2.13 GAA, .930 SV%
CBJ: Curtis Sanford 5GP 2-0-2, 1.33 GAA, .946 SV%
10/27/2011, First Niagara Center, Sabres 4 – Blue Jackets 2