Find out the keys for the New Jersey Devils to earn their first win in 2019-20 and take down the Buffalo Sabres.
While the New Jersey Devils managed to score four or more goals in back-to-back season openers, Friday night’s offensive showing still wasn’t enough to collect two points in the standings.
Jersey is set to complete its first of 16 back-to-back sets on Saturday night when the Devils take on the Buffalo Sabres at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, NY for a 7:00 p.m. ET puck drop.
Buffalo looks to improve its record to 2-0-0, while the Devils seek to erase Friday night’s painful loss and earn their first “W” on the year.
Here are three keys to victory for New Jersey against Buffalo.
Focus on fewer turnovers
Yes, the Devils looked good, not great, after leading 4-1 over the Jets once the second-period buzzer sounded on Friday night. However, as the game progressed, New Jersey made too many mistakes in the defensive zone—most of which were turnovers after failing to clear the puck out.
In some cases, the defensemen are to blame for forcing plays. That being said, it’s a group effort out there to not only clear pucks out, but move the puck up ice as a unit in order to get the offense rolling.
Keep it simple. Go hard off the glass and expect the Devils to use the boards to chip pucks out—rather than going for stretch passes—regardless of the speed they have on offense. Keep in mind that New Jersey had 12 giveaways on Friday, while Winnipeg had three.
Offensive support from the “D”
When the Devils did maintain good puck movement and control in the offensive zone vs. Winnipeg, two defensemen stood out. These two helped create legitimate scoring chances for New Jersey.
Sami Vatanen led all Devils skaters in time-on-ice (23:17). No. 45 finished the contest with a plus/minus rating of +2, two shots on goal, and netted the Devils second goal on the night.
Fans got a taste on Friday night of what the Devils power play should entail this season, but expect defenseman P.K. Subban to make his mark on the man advantage. Jersey was 0-for-2 on the power play on Friday—if one of those goes in, perhaps the Devils are 1-0-0 entering Saturday.
Nico is still the 'glue'
Most of the attention entering 2019-20 has been on the likes of Taylor Hall, P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, and Jack Hughes.
Don’t forget that the Devils “other kid” in Nico Hischier can still end up being a top leader for the Devils and on both sides of the puck. His energy and production against Buffalo might be the deal-breaker to getting New Jersey back on track.