The Buffalo Sabres are facing Vitek Vanecek, who has been struggling so far in 2023-24. But the veteran goaltender has dominated the Blue and Gold.
The Buffalo Sabres are looking for some sweet revenge tonight against the New Jersey Devils. Just six months ago, Jersey beat the Sabres 6-2 in the 80th game of the season, guaranteeing that the Blue and Gold would spend another year watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs from home.
Early this afternoon, Mike Harrington of Buffalo News revealed that the Sabres would be facing a familiar foe tonight, with Vitek Vanecek starting opposite Eric Comrie in the net. Vanecek is struggling this season, posting just a 0.900 save percentage and a 3.10 GAA. However, his track record against the Sabres is a cause for concern:
As you can see from the Twitter/X post above, Vanecek has fared well against the Sabres over his career, He was also in the net this past April when the Devils diminished the Blue and Gold’s playoff hopes, allowing just two goals, logging 36 saves, and a 0.947 save percentage.
Buffalo Sabres have historically struggled against Vitek Vanecek
When the Sabres beat the Devils on March 24th, 2023 in a game that finally snapped their cold streak that month, Vanecek played in relief of Akira Schmid. Schmid, if you remember correctly, allowed three even-strength goals on seven shots, prompting the Devils to make the switch.
Although the Sabres held on to win the game, Vanecek kept the contest from getting out of hand, stopping 15 of 16 shots on goal at even strength, and 2 of 3 while shorthanded. He allowed both goals in the second period before shutting Buffalo out in the third, which allowed Jack Hughes to score a pair of goals and make things interesting for the game’s final 10 minutes.
Tonight, the Sabres will have no choice but to try and figure out Vanecek. They are coming off of a game against the Ottawa Senators, where they scored six goals, so maybe the Blue and Gold will build on that game tonight, regardless of who is in the net.
(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference and NHL.com)