Two non-playoff teams meet in New Jersey

Both the Devils and the Sabres have had trouble winning lately

Paul Hamilton
March 25, 2019 - 12:33 pm

Photo: Ed Mulholland - USA TODAY Sports

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Newark, NJ (WGR 550) - The Sabres are playing a New Jersey team that just isn’t deep enough to sustain the injuries they’ve gotten this year.

Their top player Taylor Hall has missed 43 games, Nico Hischier has missed 13, Kyle Palmieri was out for five, Cory Schneider missed a huge portion at 22 games, Jesper Bratt missed 25 games, Blake Coleman and Will Butcher were out for four, Miles Wood missed 19 games, and Sami Vatanen was out for 26 games,

Wood, Mirco Mueller, Vatanen and Hischier all returned in New Jersey’s last game.  

Schneider hadn’t won a game for the Devils since last year, but on Feb. 15, he won in relief against Minnesota, and then beat the Sabres and Ottawa for a three-game winning streak. Schneider is 5-5-1 since he broke his skid. Recently, he’s only won one of six games.

Mackenzie Blackwell was in goal in the Devils' last game, making 23 saves on 24 shots in a shootout win over Arizona.

Before that game, New Jersey had lost three straight and 10 out of 12.

The Devils have only scored three goals in four games with the fourth goal being the shootout winner. Former Sabre Drew Stafford has scored two of those three goals, giving him four on the season.

This is the Sabres' first game since being officially knocked out of the playoffs. The blue and gold have had a lot of subpar efforts lately, winning just 1-of-10 games and 3-of-18. Jack Eichel talked after the Montreal game of having pride in themselves and their city to play well. Marco Scandella said, “We’re out of the playoffs right now, but we still have a lot to play for, we have pride in this locker room, we have the pride of Buffalo, so we can’t just show up for every game the rest of the way, we’ve got to play our game, we’ve got to show up and play our game.”

The Sabres have given up a goal less than two minutes after they've scored one over 25 times this season. It’s a mystery to me how this team can never keep momentum. Scandella said, “It just seems collectively we gain momentum and then we just make a mistake and give it right back. We have to learn that once we get the momentum, it’s not about scoring the next goal, it’s about keeping it and having that good feeling, making the right play and setting up the next lines.”

The Sabres didn’t have a morning skate, so we don’t know the lineup. With back-to-back games, I would anticipate both Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark playing in the two.

Casey Mittelstadt practiced on defense Sunday, which usually means that player is sitting. Scott Wilson also wasn’t taking a regular shift. Lawrence Pilut didn’t get to New Jersey in time for practice, so it’s not known if he’ll play.

Join Schopp and the Bulldog for the pre-game starting at 6:00 when they’ll be joined by Phil Housley, Marco Scandella and Lawrence Pilut.

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