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Game Preview #15: New Jersey Devils vs the Buffalo Sabres

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Can we get our act back together and break our first losing streak of the season, or has Buffalo really become too hot to handle?

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at New Jersey Devils Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (6-6-2) versus the Buffalo Sabres (6-8-2). SBN Blog: Die By The Blade.

The Time: 7:00 PM

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+

Rinse and Repeat...

Though hopefully with a better outcome.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well the Devils are about to try the exact same thing for the fifth time against the Sabres, and it’s been getting worse for us every time. Since the only time we beat the Sabres 5-3 back at the end of January, we’ve lost 3-2 and then 4-1 last game. Special teams have been the main antagonist of the story of this season. Here’s hoping we’ll see something different this time around.

The Lines

Bratt - Hischier - Zacha
Johnsson - Hughes - Palmieri
Gusev - Zajac - Kuokkanen*
Wood - McLeod - Bastian

Murry - Subban
Smith- Severson
Kulikov/Butcher - Vatanen

Switching Butcher back in isn’t a huge game changer since he was in for the first loss of this series but hey, we only lost by one goal that game. I have a feeling we won’t be seeing a repeat performance from Kuokkanen, who didn’t seem to be a part of the line shufflings and played the least minutes of anyone—Gusev and Zajac both had about 12.5 minutes of TOI at 5v5, while Kuokkanen only had 9 minutes. He had 5 shifts in the 2nd period and only 2 early in the third, so I think that benching qualifies as a reason enough to rotate Merkley or Maltsev back in. My pick would be Maltsev, personally.

Buffalo:

Hall - Staal - Cozens
Olofsson - Eichel - Reinhart
Sheahan - Lazar - Middlestadt
Aplund - Eakin - Okposo

Dahlin - Montour
Jokiharju - Irwin
Bryson - Miller

No word on which goalies will be starting for either team, but I’d imagine the Devils will opt to stick with Blackwood. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sabres swap for Hutton, but neither has been confirmed.

Your Thoughts

What do you think this team needs to get back in the win column? Is it new lines, new special teams, a new plan? Leave your thoughts and predictions in the comments and thanks for reading!