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NHL Predictions: New Jersey Devils vs Buffalo Sabres

New Jersey Devils Stock Up/Stock Down; NHL predictions

Welcome back to another edition of NHL Predictions. Tonight’s matchup features the third matchup of the season between the New Jersey Devils and the Buffalo Sabres. These two teams last met all the way back in November, when the Devils won 7-2. Their first matchup also went the way of the Devils, winning 5-4 in October. They now meet for the third and final time of the season and for the first time at KeyBank Center in Buffalo.

The Devils (36-33-4) are clinging on to any shred of playoff hopes that they have left. They are, however, playing much better hockey as of late, winning four of their last five. Meanwhile, Buffalo (34-34-5) is far outside of the final playoff spot and is coming off of a 6-2 drumming against the Ottawa Senators. For the Devils, they need to collect two points by any means necessary. While for the Sabres, they’ll look to build any positive momentum they can to end the season.

NHL Predictions: New Jersey vs. Buffalo

Three Keys to Victory for New Jersey

Check Your Watch, It’s Timo Time

“Timo Time” has been the catchphrase for just about any time Timo Meier does something good. More often than not it hasn’t been good this season, but lately, he’s been the Devils MVP. Meier has been a man on a mission as of late, and in particular since returning from injury. He has nine points in his last five games and is driving the play for the Devils. It took Meier a little while to get going once he returned from injury, but he’s recorded an incredible 21 points over the last month.

While it’s great that his production is up so significantly, it’s his all-around play that’s caught eyes. Meier has gotten back to playing the power-forward style that made him the player GM Tom Fitzgerald went all in on. He looks faster, is attacking the front of the net, and is throwing his body around like he had been in the playoffs last year. Against a younger Sabres defence, look for Meier to continue on the front foot and get on the scoresheet.

Power Play Showing a Heartbeat

The last time these two teams met up the state of the Devils power play was much different. They were near the top of the league, scoring at over 30%, and the superstars were superstarring. Then the next three months happened. Their power play became devoid of offence and got to a point where it was detrimental. From the start of the new year to the end of February, they were clicking at a putrid 9.7% on the man advantage.

Whether it be Lindy Ruff’s firing or players getting a little healthier, their power play has shown life in March. It’s rebounded nicely and now produces at a 25% success rate. That’s not a number that traditionally screams success, but the state of the Devils power play was so bad that 25% might as well be 50%. Meanwhile, the Sabres penalty kill has been in the bottom third of the league, at 78.8% this season and 78.4% since the start of March. If the Devils can keep their momentum then they should run into a power play goal at some point tonight.

Jake The Snake

When the Devils traded for Jake Allen there wasn’t much excitement amongst Devils fans. His stats during his time in Montreal painted a veteran goalie on his way out. Since coming to the Devils his been anything but on the way out. Allen has gone 4-2 in his six games with the Devils and has recorded a 2.51 GAA and a 0.925 SV%. He has been lights out in most of his games in a Devils sweater, and none may be better than his last game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Allen made 45 saves on 48 shots, including a whopping 24 safe first period. He’s slated to be the number two goalie next year, but for now, Allen has shown the Devils they are in good hands with him in net.

Prediction Time

If the Devils want to live another day in the playoff conversation they the win, plain and simple. The Sabres aren’t playing for much except pride, which can be dangerous for opposing teams. The Devils have been no stranger to turtling in big games which is a fear going into tonight. Take into account that the Sabres are coming off of an embarrassing loss their last time, leaving the Devils in their crosshairs. It could end up being a dogfight, but the Sabres may be the team to put the final nail in the Devils coffin.

Prediction: Sabres Win 4-2

Main photo by: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports


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