Home > Season Preview > Devils 2011-2012 Schedule Preview: Buffalo Sabres

Devils 2011-2012 Schedule Preview: Buffalo Sabres

Kovalchuk led the Devils to their only win against the Buffalo Sabres this season. Photo Credit: Bill Wippert/Getty Images

Throughout the offseason, The Devils’ Den will preview the 2011-2012 schedule, breaking down matchups and providing in-depth analysis of their opponents. Today, we the preview this season’s matchup with the Buffalo Sabres.

Usually, the Buffalo Sabres stay out of the limelight during the offseason. But since late last year, the only successful team from the Buffalo area made a ton of noise. First, billionaire Terry Pegula purchased the team, brining a wealthy owner to a usually frugal team. They made some noise in the playoffs, but lost to the Philadelphia Flyers. That would be one of their only disappointments.

With Pegula backing the team, Buffalo went on an offseason spending spree. They became, for the first time in recent memory, big spenders. Nobody was surprised; Pegula promised to pay for a quality team. An already good team added some key pieces. It’ll be a different team on the ice taking on New Jersey this season.

The History Behind The Matchup

The Devils have faced the Sabres 132 times, and haven’t fared well against them. New Jersey is 47-65-3 with 17 ties, allowing 448 goals against, or 3.39 goals per game. They’ve only scored 380 goals against Buffalo, good for 2.88 goals per game.

The two teams faced off four times last season, with New Jersey compiling a 1-2-1 record. They first met on October 13 in a game that became a duel between Martin Brodeur and Ryan Miller. Both goalies stood on their heads, matching each other save for save. In overtime, rookie Matt Taormina set up Ilya Kovalchuk for a game-winning one-timer deep in the Sabres zone. The puck rang off the crossbar before finding it’s way to the back of the net. That marked the first win of John MacLean’s coaching career. Too bad he wouldn’t lead the team to many more.

Buffalo evened the series just 10 days later, blowing out the Devils, 6-1, at the Prudential Center. Drew Stafford started the scoring, giving Buffalo a 1-0 lead at 6:57 of the first period. Tyler Myers extended the lead to 2-0 at 16:33 of the opening frame. They poured it on in the second period, scoring three times. Tyler Ennis pushed the Sabres’ lead to 3-0 at 3:10 of the middle period. Patrick Kaleta stretched the lead to four at 8:17 of the period, chasing starter Johan Hedberg.

Brodeur couldn’t stop the bleeding. Thomas Vanek made it 5-0 at 18:12. Vanek scored again in the third period, making it 6-0. Zach Parise broke the shutout, scoring at 11:25 of the period. Miller finished with 26 saves. The game was more known for the infamous benching of Kovalchuk.

The teams played another high scoring game on November 10, with Buffalo winning, 5-4, in a shootout. Jason Arnott opened the scoring, putting the Devils ahead, 1-0, at 10:12 of the first period. That lead wouldn’t last. Jason Pominville tied the game, 1-1, at 5:22 of the second period. Derek Roy wasted no time in giving Buffalo the lead, scoring 13 seconds later to give his team a 2-1 advantage. The Devils answered right back. David Clarkson tied the game, 2-2, at 7:58 of the middle period. Arnott struck again, giving the Devils a 3-2 lead at 12:01.

The see-saw battle would continue. Myers evened the score, 3-3, at 13:50 of the second period. Jamie Langenbrunner responded, putting the Devils ahead, 4-3, at 18:01 of the second period. New Jersey once again failed to hold their lead. Ennis tied the game at four at 8:54 of the third period. Both teams moved to the shootout, where Vanek and Langenbrunner both scored. Roy put his team ahead, and set up one of the worst moments for Kovalchuk this season:

Jhonas Enroth stopped 28 shots for the win. Hedberg stopped 38 in the loss.

The Devils ended their season series against the Sabres with a 2-0 shutout loss on March 26. Nathan Gerbe put his team ahead, 1-0, at 4:17 of the opening period. Vanek, a thorn in the Devils side all season, extended their advantage to 2-0 at 16:17 of the first period. Miller finished with 30 saves, and Brodeur stopped 26 shots.

Buffalo outscored New Jersey, 13-6, in their four games last season. That’s a pretty terrible ratio. Twice they hung four-plus goals on them, which is clearly unusual.

This Season’s Matchup

Pegula’s checkbook reshaped the Buffalo franchise this offseason. They spent $30.6 million in unrestricted free agency, giving a 6-year, $27 million to Ville Leino. Cody McCormick earned himself a raise, inking a three-year, $3.6 million deal. They also locked up Enroth to a two-year, $1.35 million deal. The makeover didn’t stop there.

The Sabres completed two big trades to compliment their offseason spending. They traded a 2012 fourth round draft pick to the New York Islanders to gain the negotiating rights for Christian Erhoff. They inked him to a 10-year, $40 million deal. They weren’t done there. Robyn Regehr, Ales Kotalik and a 2012 second-round pick came over from Calgary in exchange for Paul Byron and Chris Butler.

The Sabres already have an elite goalie, and they made a good defense even better. Match that with their offensive players, and the Sabres look great on paper. If they can put it all together, they’ll seriously challenge the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins at the top of the division.

The teams will once again square off four times this year, beginning November 16. They end the season series on Valentine’s Day.

Stat Pack

Myers recorded four points against the Devils last season, tied with Vanek for the team lead…Despite two wins against the Devils last season, Miller is just 8-9-4 against New Jersey. He still carries a 2.19 goals-against average and .927 save percentage…Brodeur struggled last year, but has owned the Sabres in his career. In 57 gams (56 starts), he’s 30-16-2 with five ties against Buffalo, with a 2.17 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage.

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: