Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Season Outlook: Buffalo Sabres vs. New Jersey Devils


The Buffalo Sabres will face the New Jersey Devils three times during the 2013-2014 NHL season, including twice hosting the Devils squad at the First Niagara Center. The teams met three times during the lockout-shortened season, and – get this – all three games need a shootout to decide the winner, and in all three games, the home team came out on top.

Buffalo won the first meeting last season, a 4-3 shootout victory at home on March 2. Then-captain Jason Pominville scored twice in regular, with Jochen Hecht adding a third goal. Pominville and Tyler Ennis scored in the shootout, and Cody Hodgson had a pair of assists in the win.

New Jersey took the next game, a 3-2 shootout win in New Jersey five days later. Jhonas Enroth stopped 27 of 29 shots faced before he had to be taken out of the game due to leg cramps. Ryan Miller came in to finish regulation and face the shootout, which resulted in the Devils capturing the eventual win. Thomas Vanek and Brian Flynn scored for the Sabres, with Devils goals coming from Adam Henrique and Patrik Elias.

Finally, the Sabres defeated the Devils at the First Niagara Center on April 7, a 3-2 win in shootout. Nathan Gerbe had the lone shootout goal for either team, while Patrick Kaleta and Steve Ott scored in regulation. Ryan Miller stopped 37 of 39 shots faced through regulation and overtime for the win.

The biggest story, hands-down, with the Devils is the departure of Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk – and soon after, Alexei Ponikarovsky – left the NHL this offseason, signing in the KHL. Kovalchuk will certainly be missed, and it’ll be a big deficit that the Devils will have to face and overcome.

Perhaps one of the biggest acquisitions, the New Jersey Devils recently signed free agent veteran Jaromir Jagr, who spent last season with the Bruins. Jagr has a storied history in the NHL and plenty of experience facing the Sabres; it’ll be interesting to see how he works on the New Jersey squad and what that means when the team faces Buffalo. The Devils also acquired Michael Ryder, Rostislav Olesz and Ryane Clowe, saying goodbye to David Clarkson, who will join the Toronto Maple Leafs for the upcoming season.

Of course, the Devils also made one trade since June 1, a move that Sabres fans are familiar with; New Jersey traded Henrik Tallinder to Buffalo in exchange for prospect Riley Boychuk (who, for the record, is not related to Johnny). Tallinder’s return to his former team will mean a lot and it’ll be interesting to see how he fits into the Sabres model, as well as how he faces one of his former teams while playing with a different former team. (Was that confusing enough for you?!)

Players to Watch

  • NEW JERSEY: First, let’s start off with Jaromir Jagr. In 77 career NHL games against the Buffalo Sabres, Jagr has 98 points, including 42 goals and 56 assists. The only teams he has more career points again: Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers. So, uh, yeah. I’d watch out for him. Other than that, Patrik Elias has 38 points in 54 career against versus Buffalo, and Adam Henrique has seven points in – you guessed it – seven games against the Sabres.
  • BUFFALO: Forward Tyler Ennis has four points in nine career games against the Devils, while forward Cody Hodgson has scored three points in four games against New Jersey. There’s also defenseman Tyler Myers to watch out for; Myers has six points in 14 career games vs. New Jersey. Devils fans will surely also be on the lookout for former New Jersey defenseman Henrik Tallinder.

Meetings This Season

  • November 30 @ NJD
  • January 4 @ BUF
  • April 1 @ BUF

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