New Jersey Devils Look To Avoid Seven Game Slide Against Jhonas Enroth
Photo courtesy of Rick Stewart / Getty Images
By Kristin Tullo (@K_Tullo)
The Buffalo Sabres have thrown a bone to the New Jersey Devils who are winless in their last six games, by announcing that goaltender Jhonas Enroth will start for the Sabres tonight at the Prudential Center.
A team that is sure to be lacking confidence, the Devils recent scoring drought has been as much bad luck as anything, creating scoring chances but watching pucks slide across the crease or ding off of the goal post. Like any struggling team, the bounces just have not been going their way. Facing a goalie who has had a shaky start to the season, allowing 11 goals in 140-minutes of playing time, Enroth’s 0-2-0 record could be just what the Devils need to regain the confidence they had at the beginning of the season.
Head coach, Pete DeBoer has also made some adjustments to their lineup, switching personnel in an attempt to get “fresh legs” in the game, Deboer put it to the media. Tom Kostopoulos will make his Devils debut in his first NHL game of the season after being picked up by New Jersey after the Pittsburgh Penguins put the veteran winger on waivers earlier this week. Also in tonight’s lineup will be Peter Harrold and Anton Volchenkov in place of Mark Fayne and Adam Larsson. DeBoer, who believes that goaltending hasn’t been the problem will start Johan Hedberg (2-6-0) for the seventh straight time in his stint as number one goalie while Martin Brodeur continues to recover from back soreness.
The healthy scratches for Mark Fayne and Adam Larsson aren’t the first for either defensemen and while it is not their play that has them sidelined, they both fall victim to a team desperate to shake things up. Krys Barch, who has no points and 44 penalty minutes, will also sit out tonight. Stefan Matteau will also jump back into the lineup after being scratched on Tuesday.
The two teams last met five days ago in a physical battle in Buffalo where the Devils earned their first point since defeating the Washington Capitals on February 21st. Ilya Kovalchuk, who has 23 goals in 38 career games against the Sabres, had an assist and four penalty minutes after getting involved with Buffalo’s instigator, Patrick Kaletta. Kaletta was able to get under the skin of the Russian forward but will be out of the lineup tonight as he serves the second of his five game suspension after hitting Brad Richards of the Rangers from behind on Sunday. Adam Henrique scored his first short handed goal and fifth of the season to give the Devils a lead in the third period, giving the Devils some life they haven’t had lately. With the game tied at three apiece following regulation and a five minute overtime period, the Sabres took the game with goals by Jason Pominville and Tyler Ennis the shootout.
If the Devils are able to build off of the way they ended Tuesday’s game against Tampa Bay, scoring two goals midway through the third period, they will be able to snap their six-game losing streak and avoid their first seven game losing streak since 2001. A loss, however, would mean Pete DeBoer needs to find the heart of this team, not just the fresh legs.