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Sabres vs. Devils preview

blog by Dan Ludwig  • 

The controversy surrounding the Milan Lucic hit on Ryan Miller has dominated Buffalo hockey talk for the last few days.  Some, like Buffalo’s own Luke Russert, called attention the surprising ruling by the NHL on the legality of Lucic’s hit:

Others, like The Buffalo News’ Jerry Sullivan, pointed to the lack of response from Buffalo’s own locker room:

Anyway you slice it, the last few days have been tumultuous for the Sabres.  The Lucic controversy, however, has drawn attention away from another hotly debated topic. With Ryan Miller still feeling the effects of his concussion, the goalie debate has thankfully subsided—for now (of course, this is not to suggest that we hope Miller stays unhealthy, as Buffalo.com wishes Ryan a speedy recovery). 

Tonight, Enroth, who has won each one of his six starts, will test his undefeated record against the New Jersey Devils at the First Niagara Center (7:30 p.m., Versus). If you’re a financially struggling college student, don’t fret too much, as the Sabres are jumping on the “student rush” bandwagon.

With a record of 8-7-1, the Devils eagerly welcome back winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who returns to the Devils after a lower-body injury sidelined him for the last five games.  Although this might signal hope for New Jersey fans, Kovalchuk has been underwhelming in New Jersey.  Nevertheless, the Sabres must keep a keen defensive eye on the sniper throughout tonight’s match-up. 

The Devils are not the only team welcoming back players.  Tyler Myers, who was sent to the press box as a healthy scratch last game, returns to the Sabres bench.  Here’s hoping that Myers got the hint and that he realizes he needs to step up his play.

The Devils are coming off a 4-3 loss to the Boston Bruins, moving New Jersey to fourth place in the Atlantic Division.  In contrast, Buffalo’s shootout win against Montreal has moved the club to first place in Northeast Division with an 11-6 record. 

To win tonight, the Sabres must be able to beat the Devils’ infamous trap, a defensive ploy that this Urban Dictionary post does well to describe in layman’s terms.  Last year, Buffalo was able to expose the trap for three wins—hopefully the Sabres can duplicate that type of effort tonight.

For another positive result against New Jersey, Buffalo will need Thomas Vanek to continue his torrid play.  Vanek has consistently lit the lamp this year with 11 goals while tacking on another 11 assists.  Couple this balanced production with Vanek’s performance-based leadership (he was cooler than the other side of the pillow in his shootout goal against Montreal), and it’s hard to give the team MVP to anyone else—thus far, at least.

If Vanek and the rest of the Sabres are able to beat the trap, then maybe we can avoid annoying celebrations by Devils fans.  I mean seriously, who scares a priest?

TAGGED: enroth, hockey, kovalchuk, martin brodeur, miller, new jersey devils, ryan miller, sabres, student rush

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