New Jersey Devils (19-15-1, 39 points) vs Buffalo Sabres (17-15-3, 37 points)
7:00 PM EST
Radio: WFAN 660 AM
Tonight’s game will be the second between the Sabres and the Devils this season. The two squads last met on November 16 in Buffalo, which saw the Devils take a 5-3 win.
Larsson Returns From Sweden:
The big story for the New Jersey Devils coming into tonight’s game is the return of Adam Larsson. Larsson had been granted permission from the team to return home to Skelleftea, Sweden in order to attend funeral services for his grandmother.
Despite the dismal circumstances of his travel, and the stressful 12-hour trip, the time away from the team seems to be used to refresh the rookie, who averages 21:55 of ice time per game so far this season.
Coach Peter DeBoer told The (Bergen) Record that Larsson looks good, “I think he appreciated the trip home and we’re glad to have him back.”
Key to Winning:
*Do not put puck in own net.
Last Game Against Buffalo:
NJD (W) @ BUF (L)
Final Score: 5-3
The last time these two teams met, rookie goaltending-sensation Jhonas Enroth got the start for the Buffalo Sabres in place of the injured Ryan Miller. Going into the game, Enroth was a perfect 6-0-0 on the season and had gone nearly a full year since losing in regulation. However, the New Jersey Devils had Ilya Kovalchuk returning to the lineup after missing five games due to leg injury.
The Devils got goals from five different players in the game, including the returning Kovalchuk. Also scoring goals were Zach Parise, Mark Fayne, Patrik Elias and David Clarkson. These five goals were enough to chase Enroth from the game, halfway through the third period.
Martin Brodeur stopped 29 shots for the Devils, including a couple game savers which earned him the third star of the game.
Projected Devils Lineup:
Parise (C) – Henrique – Kovalchuk (A)
Sykora – Elias (A) – Zubrus
Tedenby – Zajac – Clarkson
Boulton – Sestito – Janssen
Salvador – Larsson
Volchenkov – Foster
Taormina – Fayne
The Latest on the Buffalo Sabres:
Heading into tonight’s game, the Sabres look to win back-t0-back games for the first time since a five game winning streak from November 4-12. In their last game, the Sabres put up four goals against the struggling Washington Capitals, in the first period alone. Ryan Miller made 20 saves in his sixth straight start to give the Sabres the win.
In the game against Washington, the Sabres powerplay put up a pair of goals, including rookie Brayden McNabb’s first career goal. The Sabres powerplay now has seven goals in the last five games, which will be a good match for the league’s best penalty-kill in New Jersey.
When it comes to statistically-hot Sabres players, captain Jason Pominville currently has three points in his last two games and 11 in his last eight. Meanwhile, the Sabres’ leading goal scorer, Thomas Vanek, has a five game point scoring streak in which he has collected eight points in that timeframe.
Projected Sabres Lineup:
Vanek (A) – Hecht – Pominville (C)
Boyes – Roy (A) – Stafford (A)
McCormick – Gaustad (A) – Kaleta
Adam – Ellis – Kassian
Ehrhoff – McNabb
Regehr – Sekera
Leopold – Weber
New Jersey Devils (12-12-1, 25 points) @ Toronto Maple Leafs (15-10-2, 32 points)
7:00 PM EST
Radio: WFAN 660 AM
Tonight will be the second of four times this season that the Devils and Leafs will square off against each other. They last met on November 2 at Prudential Center, which saw the Leafs take a 5-3 victory.
Will the Devils Win on this Road Trip?:
The Devils cannot wait to return to Prudential Center on Thursday after they conclude this four-game road trip tonight in Toronto.
Overall, the Devils are 7-8-0 on the road this season. Three of those losses are from this current road trip which have the Devils on a season high four game losing streak.
The bright side, I guess you could call it, is that the Devils are playing better at the end of the road trip compared to the first game against Colorado last Wednesday. In the game against the Avalanche, the Devils were made a fool of by losing 6-1. After that game, the Devils dropped consecutive contests to the Wild and Jets 4-2. They outshot their competition in both of those games. 31-16 against Minnesota, and 25-20 against the Jets.
It’s not that the team is playing bad, things just aren’t going the Devils’ way. Well, except the fact they need to learn to stop giving up goals when they have the man advantage!
The Devils have to continue to keep playing hard, and a win tonight against the Maple Leafs will be a step in the right direction for the team.
Projected Devils Lineup:
Parise – Henrique – Kovalchuk
Tedenby – Elias – Sykora
Zubrus – Carter – Clarkson
Boulton – Sestito – Palmieri
Greene – Larsson
Talinder – Fayne
Volchenkov – Salvador
Toronto vs. New Jersey Notes:
– Phil Kessel leads active Toronto players in assists (14) and points (18) against the Devils.
– Joffrey Lupul leads the Leafs in career goals (7) in 18 games against New Jersey. Remember, Lupul had a hat trick on November 2 in the first meeting between the two clubs this season.
– Leafs Center, David Steckel, played 18 games with the Devils last season.
Projected Maple Leafs Lineup:
Lupul – Bozak – Kessel
MacArthur – Connolly – Frattin
Kulemin – Colborne – Crabb
Rosehill – Steckel – Dupuis
Phaneuf – Gunnarsson
Liles – Franson
Gardiner – Schenn
The New Jersey Devils look to close out the opening three game homestand with a win against the visiting LA Kings (1-1-0) tonight at Prudential Center. This will be the first of two matchups between the two clubs this season (Oct. 25 @ LA).
The Devils (1-1-0) are coming off a celebrated victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday. After getting shutout by the visiting Flyers last Saturday, the Devils came out strong Monday with strong support from their new Captain, Zach Parise. Parise led the team with two goals including the first goal for the Devils in the 2011-2012 season. Also having a strong game Monday, was Ilya Kovalchuk who netted the game winning goal and added two assists of his own.
Pete DeBoer collected his first win as Head Coach of the Devils, something he hopes is the first of many this season. In anticipation of his second win of the season, DeBoer is making a bit of a change to the Devils lineup tonight. Skating on the fourth line tonight will be Rod Pelley and Cam Janssen making their regular season debuts in place of Adam Henrique and Eric Boulton. DeBoer says he hopes the addition of these two will bring energy and momentum to the team. Seeing Janssen on the ice will definitely be exciting to see. Willing to bet he will be in a fight before halfway through the first period.
Adam Larsson, who was listed as probable for the game, will play. Larsson said he was hit in the groin by Eric Staal in Monday’s contest against the Hurricanes. This is good news for Devils fans as the fourth overall pick in this past year’s NHL Entry Draft has been logging top on-ice minutes in his first two NHL games. It appears that Larsson is the real deal, and will be playing a full year in the NHL.
The key to victory tonight will be to stay out of the penalty box and to convert on the powerplay. The Devils have been shorthanded an outstanding 16 times in the first two games of the season. Luckily, they have not given up a single powerplay goal, but discipline is something that needs to be learned, and learned quickly. The LA Kings have a 28.6% powerplay percentage which puts them at sixth in the league. As for the Devils powerplay, the Devils have capitalized ONCE out of 10 chances, putting them 19th in the league at the moment for powerplay conversions.
Here are your projected lineups for tonight: