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Game Preview – Game 48: Your New Jersey Devils vs Buffalo Sabres

New Jersey Devils vs Buffalo Sabres

New Jersey Devils (26-19-2, 54 points) vs Buffalo Sabres (19-25-5, 43 points)
7:00 PM EST
TV: MSG+
Radio: WFAN 660 AM

Matchup:

Tonight marks the third of four matchups between the Devils and Sabres this season. Currently the Devils lead the season series 2-0-0 after defeating the Sabres in Buffalo, 5-3 on November 16, and most recently 3-1 on December 28 at Prudential Center.

Devils Playoff Chances:

Currently finding themselves sitting in 7th in the Eastern Conference standings, the New Jersey Devils appear to be doing just enough to get them qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs at season’s end. The problem is, the Devils find themselves 2-6-1 so far this season against the conference’s top four teams. After back-to-back 4-1 losses against the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers, the Devils find themselves 1-2-0 in the midst of a six-game homestand. Tonight’s game marks the last for the Devils going into the All-Star Break. The Devils NEED the win tonight psychologically.

Keys to Winning:

Obviously, the main key to win is to score more goals than the Sabres tonight. The problem is, both teams thrive on the same situation. The Devils seem to play their best hockey when on the PK, and the Sabres have more success while having the man advantage. The problem is, the Sabres find themselves at league average on the powerplay, tied for 14th in the league with a  18.7% success rate. The Devils, second in the league in PK with a 89.2% success rate, gave up nine powerplay goals over the first 35 games of the season. Unfortunately, the PK has given up the same amount of goals in the last 12 games. It’s a tough situation. You know your team is best when shorthanded, and you do lead the league in SHG’s with 11 while no other team has double digits. Stay out of the box.

Devils Stat Leaders:

Points – Patrik Elias, 45
Goals – Ilya Kovalchuk, 19
Assists – Patrik Elias, 28

Projected Devils Lineup:

Parise (C) – Henrique – Kovalchuk (A)
Sykora – Elias (A) – Zubrus
Ponikarovsky – Josefson – Clarkson
Boulton – Carter – Harrold

Salvador – Fayne
Taormina – Larsson
Volchenkov – Foster

Brodeur
Hedberg

*Scratches – Janssen, Mills

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The Latest on the Buffalo Sabres:

The Sabres are looking to turn things around on the road tonight as they step onto the ice at Prudential Center. Saturday Night in St. Louis, Buffalo lost its 12th straight game on the road, and fifth loss in a row overall. The Sabres’ recent struggles has dropped them in the standings, and they can currently be found tied for last in the East with Carolina. During their current five-game losing streak, the Sabres have been outscored 23-7. Overall this season, the Sabres are 8-15-0 on the road.

Sabres Stats Leaders:

Points – Jason Pominville, 47
Goals – Thomas Vanek, 19
Assists – Jason Pominville, 30

Projected Sabres Lineup:

Vanek – Adam – Pominville
Boyes- Leino – Stafford
Gerbe – Hecht – Kaleta
Ellis – Roy – McCormick

Sekera – Myers
Leopold – Weber
Finley – Gragnani

Miller
Enroth

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Henrique and Larsson Going to Ottawa for NHL All-Star Weekend

Adam Henrique, Adam LarssonThis afternoon, Devils rookies Adam Henrqiue and Adam Larsson were selected among 12 rookies to participate in the NHL All-Star Weekend up in Ottawa. Both are very deserving individuals and have been very key in the Devils getting their swagger back this year.

By now, we all know the story of Adam Henrique and the marvelous season he is having. He is currently the co-leader in shorthanded goals this year with 4. He is also 1 point back of the 2011 1st overall pick Ryan Hugent-Hopkins for the league lead in points amongst rookies. With Nugent-Hopkins out for the next 4 weeks, Henrique has the chance to give himself a nice lead in that category. Not only are those stats impressive but he’s also anchoring the top line along with perennial all-stars Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk.

Adam Larsson has been no slouch either. The 2011 4th overall pick has shown that he is ready and competent to be a big time defenseman in the NHL. He started the year off leading all D men on the team in ice time. That has come down a little bit but he is still hovering around 20 minutes a game which is amazing for not just an 18 year old, but an 18 year old defenseman.

The Devils haven’t been a team that rebuilds in the normal definition of rebuilding. However these two rookies have the potential to be mainstays with the organization for a long time coming. Congrats guys and most of all, don’t get hurt!

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