Two young clubs who are looking towards the future meet up in Ohio tonight at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus. The Sabres and Blue Jackets have identical records and are basically in identical positions. Both teams feature a young core, which is expected to perform in a year or two. There is talent to be had on the Sabres and Blue Jackets, but with little experience they aren’t quite at the point yet of being threats. Considering though that the Jackets went 0-9 to open the season, their record of 23-28-4 might be a little bit of a misrepresentation of how they have been playing since then. Firing their head coach did marvels for them. The Wild have come to find as well that starting fresh during the season isn’t so bad. They fired Mike Yeo not that long ago and have gone 3-0 since the firing. The offense has all of a sudden sprung to life. The Blue Jackets found their guy in John Tortorella a few weeks into the season, and by all measures, he will here in Columbus for a while.
The Sabres found their core in just one offseason. With the drafting of Jake Eichel and the deal to acquire Ryan O’Reilly, the Sabres have what they believe is their future. The Avalanche let go of O’Reilly and the Sabres seized the opportunity to bring him in to Buffalo. They paid well and O’Reilly has responded and played like a player that is being paid handsomely. O’Reilly was rewarded with a trip to the All-Star game. He has notched 17 goals and 32 assists on the season, something the Avalanche would have welcomed this season. They sent Paul Stastny packing to St. Louis, and then they doubled down the next year and got rid of O’Reilly, both cost saving moves. However, both have been a good fit for their new teams, and O’Reilly is looking like a centerpiece for the Sabres. The Sabres are 23-28-2, while the Blue Jackets are 23-28-4. Something has to give tonight in Columbus, as both teams vie to reach their 24th win of the season.
Buffalo Sabres vs. Columbus Blue Jackets NHL Pick
The Blue Jackets had a nice opportunity against the Bruins last game to reach five wins in their last six games. The Bruins won it 2-1 in a shootout, so nevertheless, the Blue Jackets have earned at least a point 5-1 in their last six games. All the Blue Jackets need right now is to see signs of improvement, and undoubtedly, there has been improvements in Columbus. A point tonight would give the Blue Jackets their longest point streak of the season.
Evander Kane will be back in the lineup for the Sabres tonight after he was suspended for a game. Kane was suspended due to missing practice on Monday. He was seen in Toronto for the NBA All-Star festivities, so there wasn’t much of an excuse for him. Kane has been another nice addition to the Sabres, coming over from the Jets after six seasons in Atlanta and Winnipeg. Kane has scored 16 goals and 8 assists this season. With Eichel and O’Reilly, Kane doesn’t need to be the main attraction on the Sabres, which is a nice fit for him. He is a solid supplement to them. The Sabres scored only 1 goal without him against the Bruins, before scoring 10 in the previous two games. Buffalo has scored 2.90 goals per game in their last ten games, while allowing 3.20 goals. The OVER has gone 3-0 in the last three meetings between the Sabres and Blue Jackets. Further, it’s gone 8-1-1 to the OVER in their last ten. With the price set at +120 on the OVER, there is some value to be had.
PICK: OVER 5.5 GOALS (+120)