Throughout the offseason, The Devils’ Den will take an in-depth look at the Devils’ 2010-2011 schedule. The Devils, who finished first in the Atlantic Division and second in the Eastern Conference, will look to extend their consecutive playoff streak to 14 straight seasons. Today, I take a look at the team’s matchup with the Buffalo Sabres.
Sabres vs. Devils – Historical Data
The Devils are 46-63-17-2 in 128 regular-season meetings. The Devils average 2.92 goals per game against Buffalo, but they allow Buffalo an average of 3.40 goals against. The Devils faced the Sabres four times last season, going 2-1-1 in those matchups. In their first meeting of the season on October 28, 2009, the Sabres defeated the Devils, 4-1, in Buffalo. Clark MacArthur and Tim Kennedy scored first period goals to put the Sabres ahead, 2-0. Andy Greene cut the lead in half with a second period powerplay goal, but the Sabres would ice the victory with two goals in the final period.
The Devils shut out the Sabres, 3-0, on December 7, 2009. Brian Rolston and Travis Zajac scored first period goals, giving the Devils an early lead. Niclas Bergfors added a third goal on the powerplay in the second period. That would be all the offense Martin Brodeur needed, as the Devils’ goalie made 22 saves for the victory.
In the third meeting, Buffalo defeated the Devils, 2-1, in a shootout. Adam Mair scored the first goal of the game, giving the Sabres a one-goal lead heading into the second period. Rolston scored the equalizer, and the team’s played to a 1-1 draw after overtime. All three Devils shooters were unsuccessful in the shootout, but Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville scored to give the Sabres the victory.
The fourth and final meeting between the two teams ended the regular season. In that game, the Devils defeated the Sabres, 2-1. After a scoreless first period, Thomas Vanek and Travis Zajac scored second period goals to tie the game at one. In the third period, after Buffalo pulled goalie Patrick Lalime, Devils’ captain Jamie Langenbrunner fired home an empty-net, powerplay goal to give the Devils the win. That victory clinched the number two seed in the Eastern Conference for the Devils last season.
Devils vs. Sabres – This Season’s Matchup
The Devils and the Sabres will once again face each other four times during the regular season. The schedule makers put three of their four matchups early in the season, as the teams will have 75 percent of their season series finished before December.
The Sabres didn’t make several big splashes in free agency this summer. After losing Henrik Tallinder to the Devils, the team signed Jordan Leopold to a three-year contract and Shaone Morrisonn to a two-year deal. They also formed former Devils’ center Rob Niedermayer to a one-year contract. Despite the lack of a big-name signing, the team still possesses one of the best goalies in the game, Ryan Miller. The Sabres are always a tough matchup, and I would expect them to continue to be a tough opponent next season.
Other Important Stats
Both Rolston (two goals, one assist) and Langenbrunner (one goal, two assists) led the team in scoring against Buffalo last season…the Sabres had four players lead in scoring against the Devils – Pominville, Kennedy, Steve Montador and Derek Roy.