Game Preview: Sabres host Devils in their home opener

Buffalo comes home to defend 1-0 season record

Game 2

Buffalo Sabres (1-0-0) vs New Jersey Devils (0-0-1)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY


Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Devils Blog: All About the Jersey

Know Your Opponent

New Jersey Devils

Record: (0-0-1) | 1 PT

Last 10: 0-0-1

Division Ranking: 5th in Metropolitan Division

Conference Ranking: 9th in Eastern Conference

PP: 28th (0.0%)

PK: T-1st (100.0%)

What to Watch


It’s the home opener for the team, and the city is buzzing after Thursday’s win in Pittsburgh. Party in the Plaza. Captain’s Night. Kickoff for the 50th season. There is a lot of excitement surrounding tonight’s game.

The Sabres need to take advantage of that early in the matchup. Last season, they won only four home games when the opponent scored first. Getting the first goal and playing with the lead would give the team confidence and get an exuberant crowd to take it up a notch right away.

First, second

Buffalo’s second line of Marcus Johansson, Jeff Skinner and Vladimir Sobotka, was largely ineffective in the season opener. The trio produced the lowest corsi percentage of any line playing in that game - in a 3-1 victory. That means that the team that last had better shifts from all of its lines than the second line on a team that won.

It’s tough to watch, to be honest. Everyone knows how dynamic Skinner can be, and Johansson can break open a game, as well. The anchor weighting that line down is clearly Sobotka. While fans are enjoying the impressions new head coach Ralph Kruger is leaving on the team, Sobotka in the top-six is a head scratcher.

Danger zone

Buffalo did a fantastic job shutting down the Penguins in the defensive zone. Dimitri Filipovic tweeted that the Sabres allowed only one high-danger shot at even strength. That’s an incredible change from last season. While it’s only one game, it has to be meaningful.

They’re going to have to do that again tonight. New Jersey put four straight goals in on Winnipeg last night, before losing control of the game and giving up four straight. If Buffalo can control the zone, the Devils are obviously not without their weaknesses, and traveling into Buffalo after playing mere hours ago. No rest for the wicked. The Sabres need to pounce.

Game Prediction

Buffalo Sabres


Victor Olofsson - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart

Jeff Skinner - Marcus Johansson - Vladimir Sobotka

Jimmy Vesey - Casey Mittelstadt - Conor Sheary

Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Kyle Okposo


Rasmus Dahlin - Colin Miller

Jake McCabe - Rasmus Ristolainen

Marco Scandella - Henri Jokiharju

Starting Goaltender (projected): Carter Hutton

New Jersey Devils


Taylor Hall - Nico Hischier - Kyle Palmieri

Nikita Gusev - Jack Hughes - Jesper Bratt

Blake Coleman - Travis Zajac - Wayne Simmonds

Miles Wood - Pavel Zacha - John Hayden


Andy Greene - P.K. Subban

Will Butcher - Sami Vatanen

Mirco Mueller - Damon Severson

Starting Goaltender: MacKenzie Blackwood