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Sabres vs. Maple Leafs NHL Pick – January 21st

Two days into the NHL betting season and it’s hard to have asked for a better start to the campaign. We’re 8-1 thus far with all selections, including a perfect 2-0 on our featured games. Though I can’t always promise that success rate, it’s always nice to start the season off on a hot streak. We’ll try to keep it rolling on a jam-packed NHL Monday filled with a coule of intriguing matinee affairs.

Buffalo Sabres (+105) @ Toronto Maple Leafs (-125)

Our featured game for Monday night occurs at the Air Canada Centre for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ home opener. The Leafs are fresh off an impressive road victory on Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens and will look to keep the momentum going against a solid Sabres team coming off a win of their own.

Buffalo was very solid in their opening victory against the Flyers, and should be excited to take part in a game as special as this one. Playing in a Leafs’ home opener is still a big deal despite the team’s lack of success of late, and you can bet a lot of the Sabres’ players from the area will be ready to perform on such a remarkable stage.

The Sabres were lethal on the powerplay on Sunday against the Flyers, and killing penalties definitely hasn’t been the Leafs’ forte in recent seasons. Toronto was improved on Saturday evening in that regard, but still managed to concede a powerplay tally late in the 3rd period. Buffalo’s size on the wings should create trouble for the Leafs, and as always, Ryan Miller will be a tough goaltender to beat.

Though the Leafs turned in a solid road outing in their opening game, it had more to do with Montreal’s ineptitude than their own doing. Montreal struggled moving the puck and never really tested the Leafs’ inexperienced goaltender, Ben Scrivens. We still don’t know what to make of this Leafs team, but the Sabres are a deep and talented group and should be able to better exploit some of Toronto’s deficiencies.

Though starters have yet to be announced for this contest, expect a decisive goaltending advantage for Buffalo in this one. Two college grads, Miller and Scrivens will square off, and Buffalo holds a decisive edge in that regard. Scrivens struggled in limited games last season at home, only seeming to play well on the road. Meanwhile, Miller is notorious for playing superb against the Leafs, and look for a pretty big outing from him on Monday night. Take the road underdog Sabres in what should be a good Northeast Division affair.

PICK = Sabres (+105)

Our bonus picks kept on rolling yesterday, and below are some more thoughts on a busy Monday night NHL slate.

Bonus Pick #1: Tampa Bay (-120) A special matinee affair unfolds Monday as Steven Stamkos takes on John Tavares. The Lightning impressed on opening night against the Capitals, and their scoring depth will overwhelm an AHL-like defense like the New York’s. The Isles are too young to make an impact this season, and expect a playoff-ready Lightning group to keep on rolling on Long Island.

Bonus Pick #2: Detroit (-130) The Wings were simply embarrassed on Saturday night against the Blues and they’ll definitely be seeking redemption on Monday against the Blue Jackets. Life after Lidstrom hasn’t begun so well and you can bet Datsyuk and Zetterberg want to prove they can take care of business on their own. Detroit is still a loaded, veteran-laden group, and should dominate an inexperienced and simply abysmal Columbus line-up. Coach Mike Babcock will have his Red Wings squad ready for this one!

Bonus Pick #3: Anaheim (-110) The Ducks opened their season with a convincing destruction of the highly-regarded Vancouver Canucks. It’ll get easier for Anaheim in their second match as they head to Alberta to take on a brutal Calgary squad. The Flames are still without both Roman Cervenka and Jiri Hudler, negatively impacting this team’s offense. They were soundly beaten yesterday by the San Jose Sharks, and their prospects for the remainder of the season already seem bleak. The Ducks’ top-two lines can match any other line-up in the NHL and look for Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan, and Selanne to take full advantage of a weak Flames defensive group.

Bonus Pick #4: St. Louis (-110) An all-Central division clash unfolds Monday evening in the Music City. The Blues are a dominant team at the moment, and seem about as deep as any team in the league. They looked awesome in their first game of the year throttling the Red Wings, while the Predators dropped a surprising result to the lowly Blue Jackets. Nashville will struggle in the early goings of this season as they figure out how to manage their defense after losing the vital Ryan Suter to Minnesota. There will be growing pains for the Preds, and look for a well-disciplined Blues squad to capitalize on this come Monday evening.