In an effort to keep things fresh around here, I think a little change to our previews is in order!!
After back to back games against two of the top 4 teams in our conference and having come away with from those games with 0 points and a bruised ego, I certainly welcome that the Buffalo Sabres are coming into town to close out our schedule prior to the All-Star Break.
The Devils are coming off 2 straight losses and are 5-4-1 over their last 10 games. By comparison, the Devils have been doing much better than the Sabres have been. Buffalo has dropped their last 5 games and have a 2-7-1 record over their last 10. To add insult to injury, they’ve lost their last 12 games on the road and currently own the worst record in the Eastern Conference (1 point behind the Islanders and Lightning).
The most important thing for the Devils to do tonight (or rather not do) is take the Sabres for granted. Yes, they are sitting in the basement but that doesn’t mean they can’t find a way to beat us, especially if we give them the right opportunities. The Sabres aren’t a great team when playing 5 on 5 hockey but they are tied for 14th when it comes to scoring on the power play. Combine that with the fact that our Penalty Kill has been horrible in recent games, staying out of the box is a must.
Word on the street is that Marty will get the start again tonight (his 5th in a row), which isn’t a terrible idea considering he’ll get close to a week off as the Devils won’t return to the ice until next Monday due to the All-Star break. There is also word that Peter Harrold will play right wing tonight alongside Eric Boulton and Ryan Carter. Oh, did we forget to mention Harrold is a defenseman? Wait, WHAT!!?? Not a bad idea as this gives NJ 7 defenseman on the bench.
I’m certainly looking for something more from this team. Yes, they are in a position to make the playoffs but the way they’ve been playing against the elite teams in our conference this season, going 5 games in the first round isn’t very likely. If Deboer believes the Devils belong with the elite, than start showing it. An elite team would bury the Sabres tonight.
Tonight marks the 3rd of 4 meetings this season between these two teams and the Devils have won both of the prior meetings. Hopefully we make it 3 out of 3 by the end of the 3rd period. It would be nice to go into the All-Star break having snapped our 2 game losing streak.
Here is the projected lineup for the Devils tonight:
Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Ryan Carter - Peter Harrold
Bryce Salvador - Mark Fayne
Matt Taormina - Adam Larsson
Anton Volchenkov - Kurtis Foster
And finally, in an effort to get you pumped up for tonight’s game, who remembers when the Devils and Sabres met in the 1994 playoffs?