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Among tonight's goals: Silence the Nationwide Arena Goal Cannon

The cannon sits quietly this afternoon.

By Mike Harrington

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- You'll hear it on TV tonight but it's not nearly the same as when you're in Nationwide Arena. Every time the Blue Jackets take the ice at the start of a game, every time they score a goal and every time they wrap up a win, a replica Civil War cannon is fired in one corner of the building.

The "Goal Cannon" has become such a part of the experience that it even has its own page on the team's Web site.

And it's loud. They have warning signs at every seat in the press box about a loud "concussion" when the cannon is fired. Doesn't matter. You still jump. Even Blue Jackets players do.

"It still scares you. I don't think you ever get used to it," said Sabres center Zenon Konopka, who played here parts of two seasons. "You're waiting for it but you never know when it's gonna pop."

"It's definitely loud," added defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, a regular visitor during his days in the Western Conference. "I hope we don't have to hear it."

There's a good chance the Sabres will. The Blue Jackets have scored 3+ goals for eight straight games, tying the team record set in 2006. They rank third in the NHL in goals per game in January (3.7) and tied for sixth for the season (2.88).

Here's a look at the cannon in action:

Jackets having a grand old time as NHL's hottest team

By Mike Harrington

The Buffalo Sabres figure to be heading into quite the hornet's nest Saturday night in Nationwide Arena. The Columbus Blue Jackets are the hottest team in the NHL, riding a franchise-record eight-game winning streak. Games in one of the NHL's most underrated downtown rinks have usually seen a split crowd of fans in the past, with plenty of Sabres blue and gold in the crowd. The scene might be quite a bit different Saturday.

The Blue Jackets celebrated the 1,000th game in franchise history with Thursday's 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. This is a franchise, remember, barren of any success. Its lone trip to the playoffs came in 2009 and ended in a four-game sweep against the Detroit Red Wings.

Great friend of the Edge Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch penned this super look back at the team's first 1,000 games and is featured in the video the paper put together at the top of this post.

"Those poor fans have been there for that team through thick and thin, a lot of misery, a lot of rebuilding," said Sabres center Zenon Konopka, who played for Columbus and its AHL affiliate in Syracuse from 2006-2008. "So I feel really good about them getting a winner there. The fans have paid their dues.

"They're starving for a winner there. Just starving. The team works hard. They have an identity and they stick to it. That's something we need to take a look at and understand that teams like that have to bring it every night and they do. That's an area we have to get better at."

Continue reading "Jackets having a grand old time as NHL's hottest team" »

Big goalie matchup in the offing as Columbus hits town

By Mike Harrington

The bulk of the attention will be in goal tonight in First Niagara Center when the Sabres host the streaking Columbus Blue Jackets.

Ryan Miller will start for the Sabres. He is  seventh in the NHL with a .927 save percentage that is just shy of the .929 he posted in his 2010 Vezina Trophy season.

The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, did not skate here today in the wake of last night's 5-1 home win over Washington. I thought they had a decision to make between red-hot starter Sergei Bobrovsky or backup Curtis McElhinney, even though he is  0-2 in his career against the Sabres with a 4.29 goals-against average and .879 save percentage.

But shortly after noon, the team tweeted that Bobrovsky -- the reigning Vezina winner -- will be back in net tonight. The Jackets don't play again until Tuesday and Bobrovsky is 6-0, 1.37 and .955 in his last six starts so you can see that reasoning. (An aside: If you don't play your backup against the offensively-challenged Sabres, when are you going to play him?)

Continue reading "Big goalie matchup in the offing as Columbus hits town" »

Postgame audio: Sabres try to explain trainwreck loss, start to season

By John Vogl

It was an ugly 4-1 loss to Columbus tonight for the Sabres. It was the definition of suffering.

Here's what some of them had to say.

Ryan Miller

Tyler Myers

Thomas Vanek

Mike Weber

Cody McCormick

Ron Rolston

Marcus Foligno

John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl |

About Sabres Edge

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |