Game 24: New Jersey Devils vs Buffalo Sabres
Game Time: 7:00 PM EST
Radio: WFAN 660 AM, 101.9 FM
The Devils (10-8-5) are desperate for a win, as they face-off against the Buffalo Sabres (9-13-2) for the second time in less than a week. Last Saturday, the Devils fell to the Sabres 4-3 in a shootout, in a game that featured a fair amount of trash-talking from both sides, most prominent being Adam Henrique and Ryan Miller jawing after the shootout. The Devils will look for revenge at the Prudential Center on Thursday night, but more importantly, will be looking to end their recent 6-game skid (0-5-1) and avoid their first 7-game losing streak since 1986.
New Jersey Devils
What is there to say about the Devils that hasn’t already been said? The offense is struggling, Johan Hedberg seems to have lost some of his confidence, and the defense has to do a better job of giving their netminder some support. All three of these have led to a painful six games for Devils fans to watch, but are probably even more painful for the Devils players themselves. Some of that frustration has started to boil over from the Devils players. Adam Henrique, who has gotten into a couple of scrums in the past few games and David Clarkson dropped the gloves with Keith Aulie on Tuesday night. The Devils have also made some roster changes, sending Keith Kinkaid and Cam Janssen back down to Albany, while calling up goalie Jeff Frazee. Lou Lamoriello has stated that Kinkaid was sent back down to the AHL after Pete DeBoer informed him that Hedberg would be starting on Thursday, presumably to give him some ice time instead of sitting on the bench. On top of that, the Devils picked up right wing Tom Kostopoulos (don’t worry, I had trouble spelling it, too) off of waivers from Pittsburgh on Wednesday afternoon. Kostopoulos (man this name’s gonna be tough to track for #Devils1stGoal…) has 60 goals and 96 assists in his 615 NHL games, spread across Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Montreal, Carolina, and Calgary. Final line combinations won’t be known until Thursday afternoon and as of right now, Kostopoulos is a “coach’s decision.”
The Sabres are coming off of a 4-3 loss against their division rivals, the Carolina Hurricanes, on Tuesday night where, despite scoring three goals in the final frame, the Sabres were unable to erase three different 2-goal deficits in the contest. Ryan Miller also gave up 2 goals on 4 shots in the 3rd period, not helping the Sabres’ cause. Thomas Vanek remains the team’s leading goal (12) and point (28) scorer, adding an assist in Tuesday’s game to add to that total. Despite going 1-for-3 on their power-play against the Hurricanes, the Sabres still have the League’s worst power-play percentage at 11.5%.
What to Watch For
With the way last week’s game ended, don’t be surprised to see some feuds between the Devils and Sabres. Adam Henrique has a bit of a chip on his shoulder after Miller stopped him in the shootout to win the last game, so he’ll be looking to prove himself Thursday night. One bright note from Tuesday’s game was the fact that the power-play finally connected, with Patrik Elias scoring the team’s first power-play goal in 19 tries. I’d also watch for the Devils to try to take advantage of the Sabres poor power-play. Henrique burned the Sabres for a short-handed goal on Saturday, and added another one on Tuesday against the Lightning. The Devils will try to capitalize on a power-play not playing with much confidence. Personally, I’d expect the Devils to play with a great deal of desperation on Thursday night. This is a big game for them, as they don’t want to enter the second half of the season on a 7-game slump. If you watched the entire game on Tuesday, you actually saw some good Devils hockey in the final 5-10 minutes of that game. If the Devils can play 60-minutes like that on Thursday, they’ll be in much better shape.
Posted on March 7, 2013, in Devils Army, Devils Army Generals, Game Preview, New Jersey Devils, NHL, Prudential Center, The Rock and tagged Adam Henrique, Buffalo Sabres, David Clarkson, game preview, New Jersey Devils, NHL, ryan miller, thomas vanek. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.