Game #42 starts, with the Devils heading off to Buffalo, looking to catch them on their cold streak. Here’s the preview.
The Matchup: New Jersey Devils (16-18-7) at the Buffalo Sabres (22-14-6 SBNation; Die by the Blade)
The Time: 7:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MSG
The Last Devils Game: The Devils fell to the Golden Knights 3-2. Inconsistency marred the Devils in this game. The Devils held a 2-0 lead in the first period, with quick goals from Nico Hischier and Ben Lovejoy (!). However, the Golden Knights, combined with extremely solid play from Malcolm Subban, came back and ended up winning the game. Goals from Ryan Reaves, Brayden McNabb, and Max Pacioretty downed the Devils, and resulted in the regulation loss for the Devils. The Devils now stand 11 points away from a playoffs spot, coincidentally held by the Sabres.
The Last Sabres Game: The Sabres fell to the Bruins 2-1. The Bruins outshot the Sabres 41-32, with the lone Sabres goal being from Rasmus Ristolainen. This is now their 4th loss in their last 5 games, and the Sabres have now fell to the 8th playoff spot. It remains to see what quality team the Sabres are — one of the NHL best, or a fringe playoff contender.
Best Sabres: Jack Eichel is unsurprisingly the best forward points-wise for the Sabres, with 49 points in 40 games. Luckily for the Devils, he is coming off an injury, and may not play against the Devils. Jeff Skinner is the main goal threat for the Sabres, with 28 goals in 42 games. Rasmus Dahlin and Rasmus Ristolainen are the top D-pairing for the Sabres, each with over 20 minutes per game on average. Aside from this, there are no Sabres players with over 10 goals. Sam Reinhart has been quality, with 40 points and 31 assists in 42 games. After that, players like Connor Sheary, Kyle Okposo and Casey Middelstadt are sitting between 5-7 goals each, so if the Devils can stop the top scorers they should theoretically be safe.
Devilish Play: The Devils have very quietly been alright. In their last 10, they are a very average 5-5-0. The injured Taylor Hall is the leading point scorer, with 37 points in 33 games. Kyle Palmieri is the leading goal scorer, with 20 goals in 41 games. After that, Nico Hischier, Travis Zajac, Brian Boyle and Blake Coleman are the other goal scorers with 10+ goals. At this point, we know what to expect out of these players, and we’ll see how they react against Buffalo.
Projected Lines? Off day for now, so no updates. It is unknown how Taylor Hall and Mackenzie Blackwood are. If Blackwood doesn’t play, it is likely that Kinkaid starts.
Your Thoughts?: Who do you think will win? Who will score? Let me know in the comments below, and take care.