The Matchup: The Buffalo Sabres (5-5-4) at the New Jersey Devils (7-3-3)
Sabres’ SBNation: Die by the Blade
The Broadcast: TV - MSG+; Digital Audio Broadcast - The One Jersey Network; Radio - 660 AM & 101.9 FM WFAN
Yesterday’s game: The Devils won 2-1 in overtime against an Eichel-less Sabres team. Overall, the shots were 43-26 in favor of the Devils, but that was largely due to 6 power plays for the Devils. In the first period, the Sabres largely dominated the flow of the game. In the first period, while the shots were the same, the Sabres played better than the Devils. However, the Devils gave up a penalty, and Matt Moulson deposited his 5th power play goal (!) of the season. In the 2nd period, the Devils outshot the Sabres 11-6, with the Sabres giving up four penalties. While the Devils didn’t capitalize on the power-plays, they significantly reduced any chance of the Sabres scoring, and the game remained 1-0 Sabres at the end of the 2nd. In the third period, the Devils awakened, outshooting the Sabres to the tune of 18-5. Yohann Auvitu scored the goal on a simple snapshot from the point, which may or may not have been tipped by Travis Zajac. In the end, Auvitu got credit for the goal, his first as a Devil. Nilsson and Kinkaid both shut the door for the rest of the game, with Nilsson having stopped 41/42 shots by the end of the game. Evander Kane took a double-minor for high sticking Jacob Josefson, which the Devils didn’t capitalize on, but was a sign of what was to come. In overtime, the Devils capitalized on a Sabres miscue quickly. Andy Greene was able to get a pass and then was hauled down by Kane, getting a penalty shot. And this time, the Devils made the Sabres pay for the penalty. Greene walked in slowly, faked out Nilsson, and then calmly deposited it through the 5-hole for the winner. A simple move, and a not so simple win for the Devils, putting them at 17 points on the season. The recap is here.
Who’s in?: On the Devils side, Cory Schneider comes in, and Kinkaid goes out. I don’t expect Boucher to play — though nothing can be confirmed yet. I don’t know about Mike Cammalleri’s status. We’ll all find out soon enough.
On the Sabres, Robin Lehner will come in for Anders Nilsson. It is unknown what the extent of Ryan O’ Reilly’s injury is, but if he isn’t to play, I expect Cole Schneider to play as he is the only healthy scratch on the team.
What to watch: In my opinion, even though the Devils didn’t score on them, the Sabres penalties killed them. With a penalty kill, there is little chance of scoring par a defensive breakdown. With 6 minor penalties, that’s a lot of time spent focusing on only defending, and with little time to generate offense. Keith Kinkaid was amazing, but I felt like the Sabres killed themselves more than the Devils hurt them. It isn’t likely the Sabres will take 6 penalties this game, so the Devils will have to play better, or, while not preferred, rely on Schneider.
Power Play?: P.A. Parenteau said the Devils needed to step up on the power play. And step up they did — not. When watching the Devils on the power play, it’s evident they need something. What they need exactly, I have no idea. It could be that the cold play of Henrique and Palmieri will correlate with the power play success rate. If that’s the case, all we can do is wait. Shooting was evidently not a problem though, as they had 17 shots on the power-play.
Cory Schneider: While he’s been overall great this season, in two of the last three games he’s had a save percentage under .900. I see this more of a fluke than a trend, but it’s worth watching.
Cold Streaks: Kyle Palmieri has gone four games without a point, Adam Henrique has gone five games without a point, and while Taylor Hall has been great, he hasn’t scored a goal in seven games. Once they break out of these cold streaks, this team could be good.
Overall, this preview will be shorter than usual, as everything has pretty much been mentioned already in previous posts. Anyway, let me know what you guys think of this game? What do you think the score will be? Let me know in the comments below.