An ugly loss last night for the Buffalo Sabres, as they fell by a score of 4-3 in a shootout against the Red Wings. They managed to erase a 2-0 deficit in the third period to secure a point, but any kind of loss against the Red Wings must feel humiliating. The Red Wings were able to snap a long losing streak at the Sabres’ expense in that contest. This season has a familiar rhythm to it for Sabres’ fans.
Last season they went on a promising run, and then faded away after a ten-game winning streak in the first-half of the season. Again, the Sabres were looking quite good earlier on the season, but have since regressed out of playoff contention. They head into Friday with a record of 23-23-8 and 54 points. That’s not good enough, and probably doesn’t give them enough room to go on a late run.
It’s increasingly likely that the Sabres are going to be left out in the cold. It’s been nearly ten years since the Sabres went to the playoffs, with their last appearance in the 2010-11 season. The last two seasons they finished 8th in the Atlantic, and they’re going into tonight 6th in the division for what could be another disappointing campaign in Buffalo. Jeff Skinner recently returned to the Sabres’ offence, but it’s likely not going to make much of a difference with regards to going to the playoffs.
They’re 11 points behind for the final wildcard in the Eastern Conference. In other words, that’s a battle that the Sabres are not going to win. Jack Eichel has to be getting increasingly frustrated in Buffalo. He’s a terrific talent that is stuck on a team failing to provide him with assistance. Sam Reinhart and Victor Olofsson has been a decent supporting cast for Eichel, but the dropoff in Skinner’s has been the catalyst to put the Sabres on a road to nowhere in 2019-20. After lightning the net up last season, Skinner has scored just 11 goals in 44 games.
The Sabres will be back on the ice Friday night, as they attempt to quickly forget about the loss against the Red Wings. They face a Rangers team who seem to be trending up. It might take another year or two to get there, but the Rangers seem to be on the right path. I think they only go up from here. The Rangers will look to improve on a record of 26-22-4 against the Sabres this evening at Madison Square Garden. Head below for our free Sabres vs. Rangers pick.
Buffalo Sabres vs. N.Y. Rangers Betting Odds:
Sabres vs. Rangers Prediction:
The goaltending situation with Linus Ullmark going down a week ago complicates hope of a comeback by the Sabres. Ullmark is out 3-4 weeks with a leg injury. With the season seemingly in the tubes for the Sabres, it’s likely they be cautious and avoid rushing him back. The Sabres opted for Jonas Johansson, as the 24-year-old made his first ever NHL start last night. It didn’t go well for him, as he allowed 3 goals on 21 shots for a 0.857 save percentage. Ullmark plays in that game and it’s likely a win for the Sabres. Carter Hutton will be called on in NYC to get the Sabres going in the right direction.
It hasn’t been a good season for Hutton, as he’s on pace for his worst season in the NHL. Unless something changes quickly, Hutton will finish with his worst numbers since entering the league in 2012-13. He enters the crease on Friday night with a 3.30 GAA and 0.891 save percentage. They gave Johansson what figured to be the easier start last night, and saved Hutton for the Rangers tonight. For as bad as Hutton has been, though, it probably will not make much difference. He has been particularly awful on the road, having posted an abysmal GAA of 3.91 and 0.883 save percentage on the road.
The Sabres have gotten popped for 3.35 goals against per game in their defensive end on the road this season. They suffered a blow with the loss of Rasmus Dahlin on the blueline. He was getting hot, and then was stopped in his tracks because of an upper-body injury. Dahlin’s presence on the defence was missed badly, as the Sabres were creamed for 6 goals in a 6-1 loss against the Avalanche, and then another shoddy performance against the worst ranked offence in the league on Thursday night. His status is currently questionable to play against the Rangers at MSG this evening.
The Rangers are coming off a terrific outing against the Maple Leafs on Wednesday. They buried the Leafs for a 5-3 win, as Frederik Andersen was injured and then feasted on Michael Hutchinson. They’ll have another opportunity to blast a struggling defence and goaltender Friday night at home. The Rangers have not been shy about scoring the puck at home. They’ve recorded an average of 3.54 goals per game at home, and have had a lot of success against the Sabres in their most recent meetings.
The Rangers have netted 6 goals in each of their last two meetings, along with at least 3 goals scored in six of their last seven games. They will likely be seeing a desperate Sabres team after getting embarrassed last night, though. If the Sabres have a shot, it probably comes in the Rangers’ defensive zone, where they’ve allowed 3.21 goals per game this season. Look for an entertaining contest that has this contest going OVER the total on Friday night at Madison Square Garden in NYC.