With Finish Line in Sight, The McEichel Derby Tightens

The Columbus Blue Jackets host the Buffalo Sabres tonight.  Both teams are coming off shootout losses from Sunday. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

The Columbus Blue Jackets host the Buffalo Sabres tonight.  Both teams are coming off shootout losses from Sunday. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

The point gap has been tightened to five.  The Sabres, currently sitting at 39 points, have accumulated five of those in the last four games.  Some fans are growing weary that this team could be on the verge of another win streak, while others believe that this small streak of mild success is simply a fad, and that the poor play will pick up shortly.  

Edmonton (44 points), plays at Minnesota tonight; a streaking team that is 8-1-1 in their last ten games.  All signs point to the Wild winning tonight as they are 17-7-5 at home while Edmonton has faced most of their struggles on the road with a record of 7-16-8.

Arizona (47 points) lost at New Jersey 3-0 last night and head to Long Island to play the Islanders tonight.  

Buffalo is at Columbus tonight and the pressure is officially on.  I cannot lie, I am nervous.  Although all numbers point to the Sabres finishing 30th, it is tough not to continually watch the standings.  If Buffalo wins tonight, they will likely be only three points ahead of Edmonton and six ahead of Arizona.  I mean behind, right?

“I thought I would never be this way.”

These are the thoughts and words of many middle age fans who never, ever thought they’d want the team to lose.  I can say that many fans, especially those among older generations that I've spoken with are completely on board with whatever it takes to acquire McEichel.  

As awkward as it is to say, I am now all in on the tank, as much as I hate the word.  The organization now faces two of the most important months in recent franchise history.  I am a huge Noah Hanifin fan and am certain that he will become a great defenseman.  We need the scorer, the stud center who will deliver in clutch situations.  I believe the hype.  Whether it’s McDavid or Eichel, we need to guarantee ourselves one of these players.  

Tonight is huge.  Columbus is starting Anton Forsberg in goal.  Forsberg is 0-3 with an .864 SV% and a 4.85 GAA to go with it.  The twenty-two year old will make his fifth career start tonight.  Buffalo will again start Michal Neuvirth.  Neuvirth has been hot (.951 SV%) since he was deemed the #1 guy after the Enroth trade. 

Columbus (26-28-4) is coming off of a tough 4-3 shootout loss to the NY Rangers on Sunday.  Look for James Wisniewski to return to the lineup tonight after he was a healthy scratch on Sunday.  Brandon Dubinsky will play tonight despite being absent from the morning skate.  Jack Skille will not play as he is still working his way back from injury.  Former member of the Buffalo Sabres Corey Tropp will play tonight.  Tropp has one goal and five assists in 44 games played this season.