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Sabres Look to Extend Point Streak

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Jersey Meets Buffalo in First Matchup of the Season

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Game 9

Buffalo Sabres (3-3-2) vs. New Jersey Devils (3-3-1)

Puck Drop: 1:00 PM EST | Key Bank Center | Buffalo, NY

TV: MSG

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Devils’ Blog: All About the Jersey

Know Your Opponent

New Jersey Devils

Record: (3-3-1)

Division Ranking: 6th in East Division

PP: 26th (11.1%)

PK: 30th (68%)

What to Watch

1. Play Better Than Thursday and Keep the Momentum Going

While the Sabres are on a three-game point streak, their mess of a game on Thursday night - minus Linus Ullmark having a strong show - left little to be desired. The good news, however, is that the Devils are also struggling with scoring and leaving the ice with a win after 60 minutes. New Jersey has lost three out of their last four games and are one point behind the Sabres in the division standings. The Devils are no stranger to the effects of Covid, either. Their starting goaltender and one of their top forwards will be out due to protocol as they continue to suffer without another top center in Nico Hischier (who has been out with a leg injury since the season opener). If Buffalo fails to take advantage of these deficiencies and leave the game with two points, our team may have bigger problems than we realize.

2. Reinhart Out, Jokiharju Back

Fans will be disappointed to learn that winger Sam Reinhart will miss a questionable amount of games due to an upper-body injury. This is a big loss as Reinhart has arguably been the most effective player on the team so far this season. In eight games, he has tallied three goals, three assists, and 19 total shots. His presence on the power play has also been effective. Stepping in his place will likely be Tage Thompson. Reinhart’s absence may also call upon Jeff Skinner to slide into the first power play unit.

On the flip side, fans should be pleased to see defenseman Henri Jokiharju back in the lineup after his injury kept him on the outside looking in for two games.

3. Ruff Returns

While the Devils seem to be struggling with their season so far, Thursday night marked something more positive: former Sabres coach (and current Devils coach) Lindy Ruff’s 1,500th game as a bench boss. Of those 1500 games, Ruff coached 1,165 with the city of good neighbors and has 736 wins as an NHL head coach. Whether you love him or not, Ruff has consistently shown his loyalty to Buffalo, even describing it as his true “home” since 1979. He will arguably always hold a special place in Buffalo’s heart and it will be good to see him again this weekend.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Victor Olofsson - Jack Eichel - Tage Thompson

Taylor Hall - Eric Staal - Dylan Cozens

Tobias Rieder - Cody Eakin - Kyle Okposo

Jeff Skinner - Curtis Lazar - Riley Sheahan

Defense

Jake McCabe - Rasmus Ristolainen

Henri Jokiharju - Brandon Montour

Rasmus Dahlin - Colin Miller

Starting Goaltender: Linus Ullmark (expected)

New Jersey Devils

Forwards

Andreas Johnsson - Jack Hughes - Jesper Bratt

Pavel Zacha - ?* - Kyle Palmieri

Miles Wood - Yegor Sharangovich - Nikita Gusev

Janne Kuokkanen - Michael McLeod - Nathan Bastian

*Center Travis Zajac entered Covid protocol Friday afternoon and will not travel to Buffalo this weekend. Nick Merkley of their taxi squad may be his replacement.

Defense

Ryan Murray - P.K. Subban

Ty Smith - Damon Severson

Dmitri Kulikov - Matt Tennyson

Starting Goaltender: Scott Wedgewood