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Preview: Running With the Devils

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The Sabres head to Newark before the Winter Classic on Monday to face the first place Devils

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Buffalo Sabres Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Game #38

Buffalo Sabres (9-20-8) vs. New Jersey Devils (22-9-5)

Season Series: 10/9 - Devils 6, Sabres 2

Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. EST | Prudential Center | Newark, NJ

TV: MSG

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Devils blog: All About The Jersey

What to Watch

1. Girgensons has awoken.

Zemgus Girgensons has found his scoring touch again now that he’s playing on the wing with Jack Eichel. After going scoreless in 25 games, the Latvian forward has two goals in two games on the top line.

2. JJ Returns

Jacob Josefson returns to Newark for the first time to face his former club. The former first-round pick of the Devils played seven years with the organization before signing with the Sabres as a free agent over the summer.

3. Lehner is playing lights out.

He’s not getting the wins to back it up, but Robin Lehner has been playing very well for nearly a month now. His season numbers are looking pretty good with a .915 save percentage and 2.74 goals against average. Over the past five games Lehner has a .934 save percentage, but only two wins to show for it.

Know Your Opponent

1. First Place Devils

Remember when everyone picked the Devils to be one of the worst teams in the league before the season? Well, 36 games into the season they sit atop the Metro division heading into play tonight.

2. Accelerated Rebuild

New Jersey kicked their rebuild into high speed after last season. Thank you primarily to players like Jesper Bratt, Nico Hischier, Brian Gibbons, Taylor Hall and the return to form by Cory Schneider. Also, They’ve added some good pieces in trades like defenseman Sami Vatanen.

3. The Butcher

Will Butcher’s game has translated well from the NCAA to the NHL. Teams were right to highly covet the former Denver University blueliner. This season he has two goals and 23 points in 36 games for the Devils. The Sabres entire defense has three goals and 39 points in 37 games.

Projected Lineup

28 Zemgus Girgensons - 15 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart

9 Evander Kane - 90 Ryan O’Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo

67 Benoit Pouliot - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 29 Jason Pominville

22 Johan Larsson - 10 Jacob Josefson - 17 Jordan Nolan

6 Marco Scandella - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen

19 Jake McCabe - 47 Zach Bogosian

82 Nathan Beaulieu - 41 Justin Falk

4 Josh Gorges - 93 Victor Antipin

Starting Goaltender: 40 Robin Lehner