Back to the ice on Wednesday after a brief break for Christmas. Teams return with hopes that there isn’t any rust to shake off. The NHL will go on a brief hiatus again a month from now for All-Star Weekend in Tampa at the end of January. There are some teams who are counting down the days until the All-Star break, and others just want to keep things going. The Buffalo Sabres are a team who just want to get to the mid-way point now.
It’s been a frustrating 2017 for the Sabres as they try and get back to a level of respectability. Jack Eichel may be performing, but other than Eichel, the Sabres aren’t getting a lot of help elsewhere. Eichel has scored 13 goals and helped out with 19 assists. The Sabres are still waiting for Ryan O’Reilly to show up. When they acquired O’Reilly a few years ago, he made an immediate impact for the Sabres. He score 21 goals and 39 assists in his first year.
O’Reilly currently has 9 goals and 14 assists. It goes beyond stats. With a strong January he could be on pace to match what he did last season statistically, but he was brought in from the Avalanche to be a complete player. He’s just kind of going through the motions without taking on a leadership role and making players around him better.
Eichel is only a 21-year-old, yet he is taking on more of a leadership role than O’Reilly has. The offense must get going in the second-half for the Sabres to find any success. They catch a matchup with the Isles tonight, a team that could provide a motivational boost on the offensive end. Head below for our free Sabres vs. Islanders pick on Wednesday night.
Buffalo Sabres vs. N.Y. Islanders Pick
The Sabres are fortunate enough to get a matchup against the Islanders out of the Christmas break. The Isles have been a punching bag in their own zone. From defence to their goaltending, it’s been a bit of a mess for them. The Islanders have flip-flopped between Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss, with Halak being the better of the two, but it isn’t saying too much. Greiss holds a 0.883 GAA, while Halak sports a 0.906 save percentage. Both have GAA’s north of 3.00. Overall, the Islanders are dead last, allowing 3.5 goals per game. In their last ten games, they’ve allowed 4.1 goals per game. If they could just stop some pucks, they’d have quite the record.
Despite that dumpster fire, the Islanders are still a 19-13-3 team. Thanks to their offence, the Isles are hanging in there. Note that they are scoring 3.56 per game for 2nd in the NHL, which is completely opposite of what they are doing on defence. Rookie Mathew Barzal, who slipped all the way to 16th in the draft, has put them over the top offensively. He is on pace to win the Calder Trophy. The Sabres have allowed 3.1 goals per game in their last ten games, and should find it difficult to contain the Isles offence tonight. The last three meetings between the Sabres and Islanders have gone OVER the total, and should once again on Wednesday evening. A total of 5.5 in Islanders game is something you won’t see often.
PICK: OVER 5.5 (-115)