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SB Nation Devils Blog: All About The Jersey
Know Your Opponent
New Jersey Devils
Record: (6-6-2) | 14 PTS
Division Ranking: 7th in East Division
PP: 25th (15.0%)
PK: 31st (59.1%)
1. Potential Lineup Changes
As we all know, Jeff Skinner has been a healthy scratch for each of the last two games. Head coach Ralph Krueger has generally not been revealing his lineups ahead of time, but Skinner didn’t skate at the team’s practice on Thursday morning, which is.... odd, to say the least. It was later revealed that Skinner skated earlier in the morning... with the taxi squad. That means he’ll once again be a healthy scratch. What are we doing here?
Jack Eichel was also not on the ice for Thursday’s practice, but that could be an indicator of rest more than anything, and may not have any bearing on his status for this evening. Linus Ullmark, who played both Monday and Tuesday, was also not at practice.
One player who was on the ice? Rasmus Ristolainen, for his first skate since the beginning of the month. With the scary details of Ristolainen’s COVID-19 battle & aftermath recently coming out, this is a good sign for his health, if nothing else. While I wouldn’t expect to see him in a game anytime soon, it’s good to see him back on the ice.
2. Power Plays
The Sabres’ power play has been crushing it lately. Entering Thursday evening, the Sabres have the best power play in the league, tied with Chicago. They’ve capitalized on 33.3 percent of their advantages, which is great to see. Buffalo finished last season with an 18.9 percent rate on the power play.
Victor Olofsson has, of course, been a significant part of that. Six of his seven goals this season have come on the power play. All of this, combined with the fact that the Devils have the worst penalty kill in the league, could spell trouble for New Jersey once again.
3. More Scoring Needed
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Sabres need more goals, period. As it stands right now, the Sabres are 28th in the league in goals-for, having scored just 39 this season. To a point, it’s understandable given that they had the COVID-related pause and have played fewer games than many other teams, but at some point, that stops being a valid excuse. Jeff Skinner can’t step up if he’s a healthy scratch, but there are plenty of other guys in the lineup who should.
Victor Olofsson - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart
Taylor Hall - Eric Staal - Dylan Cozens
Rasmus Asplund - Cody Eakin - Kyle Okposo
Casey Mittelstadt - Curtis Lazar - Riley Sheahan
Rasmus Dahlin - Brandon Montour
Matt Irwin - Henri Jokiharju
Jacob Bryson - Colin Miller
Starter: Carter Hutton
New Jersey Devils
Pavel Zacha - Nico Hischier - Jesper Bratt
Andreas Johnsson - Jack Hughes - Kyle Palmieri
Mikhail Maltsev - Travis Zajac - Nikita Gusev
Miles Wood - Michael McLeod - Nathan Bastian
Ryan Murray - P.K. Subban
Ty Smith - Damon Severson
Dmitry Kulikov - Sami Vatanen
Starter: Mackenzie Blackwood