The last time New Jersey Devils’ goalie Johan Hedberg faced the Buffalo Sabres, he found himself on the bench midway through the second period after allowing four goals on 15 shots. Tonight, Hedberg gets the chance to redeem himself as the Devils (4-10-1) take on the Sabres (4-9-2) at the Prudential Center.
Both teams enter tonight’s matchup struggling to find on-ice success. Both teams sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, a position unfamiliar to both squads. Both teams are dealing with injuries to their starting goalies. Ryan Miller will miss tonight’s matchup game with a lower body injury, and Martin Brodeur will miss his second straight game with a bruised elbow.
Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner reiterated the frustration within the Devils locker room heading into tonight’s matchup.
“It’s getting frustrating,” the captain said. “We all can read the standings and see where we are and the games we’ve played and the games in hand teams have on us and where we could be when it’s all sorted out. But we can’t concern ourselves with that so much. We need to find a way to get some wins ourselves, keep the effort where it’s been, but learn to play a little bit smarter.”
The Devils lack of intelligent play cost them in a 3-0 loss to the Rangers Friday night. Down 2-0 in the third period, the Devils fought off seven penalty minutes in the first 10 minutes, highlighted by Ilya Kovalchuk’s roughing minor only 15 seconds into the period. Spending the first half of the period shorthanded squashed any hope of a Devils’ comeback.
After the game, frustrations boiled over, as Patrik Elias called out teammates.
“I understand everybody wants to try hard,” Elias said to Inside Hockey’s own Michelle Kenneth. “I don’t give a sh*t if you’re going to fight someone. We’ve got to win hockey games here.”
The Devils get a chance to exact revenge on the Sabres and move ahead in the conference standings. Buffalo thrashed the Devils, 6-1, on October 23 at the Prudential Center. Drew Stafford and Tyler Meyers scored in the opening frame, staking Buffalo to a 2-0 lead after one period. The Sabres blew it open in the second period, scoring three goals and chasing Hedberg from the game at the 8:17 mark of the period.
The Devils enter tonight still searching for their first home win of the season. Currently, the team is 0-5-1, their second-worst start in franchise history. Even with the Sabres struggles, they’ve done well on the road, playing to a 4-3-1 record away from the HSBC Arena.