Puck Drop: 12:30 PM EST | Prudential Center | Newark, NJ
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Devils Blog: All About The Jersey
Know Your Opponent
New Jersey Devils
Division Ranking: 6th in East Division
PP: 26th (12.5%)
PK: 31st (64.9%)
What to Watch
1. Special Teams
The Buffalo Sabres have a rather rare opportunity here. Obviously, their play at five-on-five has left a lot to be desired this season. In fact, it’s been ten whole periods since they have registered an even-strength tally.
Despite the Devils’ reputation as a defensively sound team, they’re actually allowing a lot of chances at five-on-five this season. Their expected goals-against rate of 2.45 is currently fifth-highest in the league.
Additionally, the Devils have the league’s least effective penalty-kill unit right now. Conversely, the Sabres’ special teams groups, particularly the power-play, have been quite good. As it stands, Buffalo has the fifth-best power-play unit in the NHL, converting at a 31.1-percent clip.
Perhaps this is the game where the Sabres’ forwards finally break through offensively.
2. Cozens’ Return
After being one of the last players to return to the ice after the team’s recent COVID-19 outbreak, rookie forward Dylan Cozens is expected to make his return to the starting lineup. At practice yesterday, he skated alongside Eric Staal and Taylor Hall on the second-line.
#Sabres lines:— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) February 19, 2021
Thompson has to be coming out after that horrible giveaway last night.
Obviously, the 20-year-old’s re-introduction to the lineup represents a depth improvement on the wing. It is expected that he will sub-in for Tage Thompson, who has struggled mightily so far this season.
3. Ullmark Will Have His Hands Full
Though it has yet to be confirmed who will start between the pipes for Buffalo this afternoon, Carter Hutton just got a start on Thursday evening, and failed to impress. Presumably, that should mean Linus Ullmark will reassume the cage today.
Despite the Devils’ struggles defensively, they’ve surprisingly been one of the better offensive clubs in the NHL this season at even-strength. Their current xGF/60 rate of 2.65 ranks third in the league, and first in the East Division.
Fortunately, Ullmark probably had his best game of the season (which obviously isn’t setting the bar very high) the last time he squared-off against New Jersey on January 30. In that game he stopped 34 of the 37 shots he faced in a shootout victory.
Victor Olofsson - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart
Taylor Hall - Eric Staal - Dylan Cozens
Tobias Rieder- Cody Eakin - Kyle Okposo
Jeff Skinner - Curtis Lazar - Riley Sheahan
Rasmus Dahlin - Colin Miller
Brandon Montour - Henri Jokiharju
Jake McCabe - William Borgen
Projected Starter: Linus Ullmark
New Jersey Devils
Andreas Johnsson - Jack Hughes - Kyle Palmieri
Yegor Sharangovich - Mikhail Maltsev - Jesper Bratt
Janne Kuokkanen - Pavel Zacha - Nick Merkley
Miles Wood - Michael McLeod - Nathan Bastian
Ty Smith - Damon Severson
Will Butcher - P.K. Subban
Dmitry Kulikov - Sami Vatanen
Projected Starter: Mackenzie Blackwood