New Jersey Devils (10-8-5) vs. Buffalo Sabres (9-13-2), 7:00 pm Prudential Center- Newark, NJ
Just going to jump right in to the questions and comments here:
1. The Devils have to score first. Night in and night out, the Devils are forced to play catch-up because they’ve been scored upon first. If they are going to turn it around, an early goal will put this team in a place where they haven’t been much lately, in front on the scoreboard. They have to crash the net early and make Jhonas Enroth, who has struggled mightily, work to make some big saves. Simply stated, they need to get the first goal tonight.
2. Will the lineup changes make any difference? Volchenkov and Harrold in for Larsson and Fayne. Will it make a difference? It’s nice to see Peter Harrold out there, he deserves a chance, but other than for rest, it doesn’t make sense to rest Adam Larsson who has been the most consistent defenseman this season. Newcomer Tom Kostopoulos is in for Krys Barch tonight. While Kostopoulos shouldn’t wow you, he’s definitely at least a minor upgrade over Barch and a significant upgrade over Cam Janssen.
3. Is this really rock bottom? Pete DeBoer seems to think so, but I’ve always been from the school of thought, that if you’re out there proclaiming it, then it’s not. When you are out of excuses, out of answers, that is rock bottom. Whatever the case may be, another loss tonight might actually bring the Devils to whatever that fabricated precipice is.
4. The big guns need to carry this team. Ilya Kovalchuk, David Clarkson and Patrik Elias, the veteran offensive players on this team, all of whom have looked good at various points of this season, need to rise up to the task. If Kovalchuk truly is an elite player, then let’s see him step up and put the team on his back tonight. If they are going to climb out of this, it’ll be because of players like Kovy.
Prediction: Devils 3 Sabres 2
I want to pick against this team so badly. The last two games I had picked 4-2 Leafs and 6-1 Bolts. For some reason I just think they’ll find a way to get it done in front of what could be a very agitated home crowd. It won’t be pretty, but I think the Devils will hold on to get the much, MUCH needed two points.