A rather uneventful day in the NHL yesterday with only two games featured on Sunday. The only thing worth noting was the Leafs blowing a 2 goal lead entering the 3rd period. Toronto didn’t just blow the game, but they ended up getting blown out in the 3rd period. The Florida Panthers scored 4 unanswered goals on the Leafs in the 3rd frame to earn the 6-4 victory. The Panthers have one of the worst offenses in the league, so this wasn’t like the Leafs got lit up by a good offense by any means. They certainly looked disinterested in the late goings on. I don’t know if they ate too much turkey or what and were feeling a little lethargic, but it is a pretty big collapse for the Leafs in that one. I didn’t have a play in that game or the other one, I just played the NFL card yesterday, which ended up being a profitable day at the office. I have had a difficult stretch in the NHL but thanks to football I’ve been doing alright. With no MNF on tonight, we have a full slate of NHL action on the docket.
Tonight we turn to Ottawa where the Sabres and Senators will tangle for the second time this season. The first meeting was a pretty good game, as the Sabres edged out the Sens 5-4 in overtime. I did plenty of Sabres’ bashing earlier in the season when they looked like one of the worst hockey teams around in the last 10 years. However, they have impressively fought back to put themselves in a position as a respectable hockey team. The Sabres no longer get embarrassed night after night and are showing a lot of fight against their opponents. The most improved facet of this team has been the offense. At one point it looked like the Sabres were going to average a goal a game throughout the season, but they’ve actually been quite good the past month. For the future I do like this Sabres team more than the Senators. I imagine in a few years they might be in a better spot than the Sens. There are talented youngsters in Buffalo but there isn’t much experience. That will need to come with time. We’ll see what tonight has in store for us on the ice.
Buffalo Sabres @ Ottawa Senators
The offense for the Sabres has definitely trended upwards, as I just stated, but the defense still hasn’t improved much at all. Since Ryan Miller left Buffalo, the Sabres have still been looking for a reliable option in net. Jhonas Enroth isn’t the answer for the Sabres at goalie long term, nor is backup Michal Neuvirth. Enroth enters tonight with a 3.04 GAA while Neuvirth possesses a GAA of 3.29. Needless to say the Sabres have had problems in this area. In their last five games they’ve given up 5, 5, 4, 6, and 3 goals for an average of 4.6 goals per game. They are on an eight game streak where they have allowed 3 or more goals. The last time the Sabres have let in less than 4 goals was on December 13th. Their offense has picked it up, though, scoring just over 3 goals a game in their last eight games. In their last three they went for 3, 3, and 4 goals. The offense is starting to come around, but the defense is not doing their part in improving this team.
Ottawa has struggled of late on defense as well. Their last three games produced an against goal average of a little more than 3 goals per game. In more than half of their last ten games, the Senators have allowed 3 or more goals a game. Offensively they are erratic and unpredictable, but should be able to take care of a porous Buffalo defense, something they did in their last meeting. Note that the OVER is 8-0 in the Sabres last eight games, mostly due to their goals allowed. I really like this pick with the total at only 5. I figure at the least both teams will be able to score 2 goals to cause a PUSH. However, 6 goals seems doable as well.
Pick – OVER 5 GOALS (-125) @ 5dimes.eu (Best Odds)