The NHL is set up with a good amount of action on Thursday night. Twelve games are up on the board in total throughout February 6. One of these games will be a matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and the Buffalo Sabres. These two teams have struggled quite a bit throughout this season, but will look to earn a nice win on Thursday night. This game will start at around 7:00 PM Eastern time on NBCSN.
The Red Wings have put up a record of 12-38-4 so far this season, which has them sitting in last place of the entire NHL. Detroit is fifteen points behind the second worst team, which is the Los Angeles Kings. The Red Wings have lost nine games in a row and seventeen of their last twenty. Detroit will look to bounce back and end that losing streak in this one.
Buffalo has earned a record of 23-23-7 to this point in the season. The Sabres are currently in sixth place of the Atlantic Division. After Buffalo’s hot start to the season, they have fallen off and are now twelve points out of the final wild card spot. The Sabres lost their last game and four of their last five. Buffalo will look to get back into the win column against the struggling Red Wings.
These two teams are far out of a wild card spot to this point in the season. The Sabres have a chance still if they can put together a really nice run, but Detroit has all but locked up that worst record in the NHL this season. The Red Wings will still look to come out strong in this one as they try and knock off their division rivals.
The Red Wings and the Sabres met up for the first time this season in Detroit on October 25. Jake McCabe opened up the scoring in the second and Sam Reinhart added to that lead in the third. Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel both finished with two points. Linus Ullmark finished with 41 saves as Buffalo was able to pull away with a 2-0 win.
The second game of the season series stayed in Detroit on January 12. Evan Rodrigues was able to score twice for the Sabres, while Curtis Lazar added two assists to help Buffalo jump out to a nice start. Madison Bowey cut the lead to two in the second, but it was not nearly enough. Linus Ullmark stopped 21 of the 22 shots he faced as the Sabres pulled off a 5-1 win on the road.
These two teams split the season series 2-2 last season. Both teams went on to miss the playoffs and the Sabres finished lower than the Red Wings in the standings. Detroit looks like the much worse team this season, but neither team is on pace to make the playoffs. I expect the Red Wings to look to bounce back from their two home losses earlier in the season and pull off an upset of their own on the road.
Detroit’s special teams have struggled throughout this entire season. The Red Wings power play has only been able to capitalize on 24 of their 166 power play opportunities, which is a 14.5 percent success rate. Detroit’s penalty kill has been just as bad. The Red Wings have allowed their opponents to score on 44 of their 164 chances, which is a 73.2 percent penalty kill.
The Sabres power play has not been terrible throughout this season. Buffalo’s power play has scored 30 goals on 155 attempts this season, which is a 19.4 percent power play. The Sabres penalty kill has seen their fair share of struggles. Buffalo has allowed opposing teams to score 39 goals on 153 opportunities, which is a 74.5 percent kill rate.
These two teams have been less than impressive on both sides of special teams this season. Buffalo’s power play has been mediocre, and it will have a chance to get some momentum going against the Red Wings penalty kill. If Detroit can match though against the Sabres poor penalty kill, it could help give the Red Wings a chance to win this game.
Jonathan Bernier will likely get the nod in the crease for Detroit on Thursday night. Bernier has put up a record of 10-14-2 throughout this starts this season. He has earned a save percentage of .908 and a 2.89 GAA. Bernier’s last start was against the Philadelphia Flyers, where he stopped 28 of the 30 shots against him in a losing effort for the Red Wings.
I believe that Carter Hutton will get the start in net for the Sabres in this matchup. Hutton has earned a record of 7-9-4 throughout his 20 starts this season. He has posted a .891 save percentage and a GAA of 3.30. Hutton’s last start was against the Colorado Avalanche, where he stopped 8 of the 13 shots he faced before getting pulled in the loss.
I think that Detroit actually has the edge in this matchup when it comes to goaltending. Despite the Red Wings poor play all season, Bernier has been able to put up solid numbers. Hutton is coming off a really poor start on Tuesday night and he will look to bounce back for Buffalo. If Detroit can solve Hutton early though, I think that Bernier could help secure them a win.
The Sabres have won the first two games of the season series coming into this one, but I like Detroit’s chances to pull off the upset on the road. The Red Wings have lost nine in a row and I think they will be able to end that streak in this one. Detroit will need to tighten their penalty kill up a bit in this one, but if Bernier has a nice game, I think the Red Wings could win.
BetOnline has Buffalo listed as a -195 against the money line in this one. This implies that the Sabres will win this game around 66.1 percent of their time. Since cooling off after that hot start, Buffalo has not been impressive enough to be such big favorites. All losing streaks come to an end and I think that this is a prime game for the Red Wings to pull off the win. As such big underdogs, I am taking them on Thursday night.