New Jersey Devils (30-29-11) at Buffalo Sabres (20-43-7)
|Date & Time||Friday March 20, 2015, 7:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Buffalo Sabres +171 / New Jersey Devils -190 --- Over/Under: 5
The New Jersey Devils are rolling right along as their season comes to end in just a couple of weeks. The Devils are playing some of their best hockey of the season heading into Friday night’s match up with the Buffalo Sabres, and a lot of these players are trying to earn jobs moving forward. New Jersey has won two games in a row and on Tuesday night it was their goaltender Cory Schneider who led the way once again. Schneider has been incredible this season. To date he’s posted a 2.16 goals against average to go along with a .929 save percentage and 26 victories for a club that has just 30 on the year. Schneider has done everything in his power to give this hockey club a chance to win games on a nightly basis, but he hasn’t gotten much help. That was the case again against the Pittsburgh Penguins as the Devils were out shot 35-19 in the game, including 13-4 over the final 20 minutes while protecting a 1-0 lead. Jacob Josefson’s fifth goal of the season broke a scoreless tie late in the second period and Schneider did the rest. Adam Henrique sealed the victory with his 16th goal of the season into the empty net. The Devils offense didn’t generate much, but that’s par for the course with this club. The Devils were disciplined in this game however, and they didn’t allow the Penguins and their power play to get any opportunities in this one. General manager Lou Lamiorello needs to find a way to upgrade his forward group heading into next season. This is a club that has a goaltender that is playing at an elite level but they stand little chance of competing on most night’s because they just don’t have the offensive personnel to get the job done. If there’s one team that might have a harder time scoring goals than the Devils, it’s probably their opponent in this game.
For the Buffalo Sabres it’s all about trying to wrap up one of the first two picks in June’s NHL entry draft. With either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel available the Sabres look like they’ll have another jewel to add to their stable of promising young prospects. Buffalo is currently three points behind the Arizona Coyotes and four points behind the Edmonton Oilers, which puts them in line for the first pick overall. After seven consecutive losses however, the Sabres found a way to finally get back into the win column on Tuesday night. The much maligned Anders Lindback came up large as the Sabres upset the Bruins in Buffalo. Rasmus Ristolainen tied the game at 1-1 early in the third period when the Sabres actually found a way to score a power play goal. If that weren’t surprising enough they had Lindback looking like Patrick Roy in his prime as he stoned the Bruins all night long. Tyler Ennis scored the only goal in the shootout and Lindback stopped all three shooters he faced to lift the Sabres to the 2-1 win. Lindback finished the night with 44 saves in a game the Sabres were out shot 45-24. While it might be more important in the long run for this organization to get a potential cornerstone player in this draft it’s also important to try and build a winning culture in the locker room. If the Oilers and Coyotes can win a few more games down the stretch the Sabres might be able to do both.
These two teams usually have a tough time scoring goals and if Lindback can play the way he did against Boston we should have a low scoring affair here. Schneider has been one of the best goaltenders in the league this year and that shouldn’t change in a match up against Buffalo.