The New York Rangers may have gotten the best of the Buffalo Sabres two of their past three meetings, but tonight the Sabres will even the score with a win.
Two in-state rivals fighting for playoff berths meet Wednesday night in Buffalo. The Rangers are in seventh place, but are only two points ahead of the eighth-place Sabres, who sit just three points above ninth-place Carolina Hurricanes.
The New York Rangers
The New York Rangers have won two of the three meetings with the Sabres this season, including a 6-3 victory in their lone trip to Buffalo. The Rangers are playing very well lately, going 8-1-1 in their past 10 games since dropping three straight contests.
That has moved them within two points of Montreal for sixth place in the East. Henrik Lundqvist, who has started 20 straight games, has been on fire lately, posting two shutouts and a .987 Save Pct. (77-of-78) in his past three starts. He blanked the Bruins 1-0 on Saturday, stopping all 26 shots he faced, and leads the NHL with 11 shutouts. However, Lundqvist has allowed six goals in his two starts against Buffalo this season.
Derek Stepan recorded a hat trick in his NHL debut versus the Sabres, but has not registered a point in the past two meetings with Buffalo.
The Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres are also playing well, posting a 4-1-1 mark in their past six games. Goalie Ryan Miller has also been busy, starting 19 of the past 21 games. After winning First Star honors last week (3-0-0 with two shutouts), Miller gave up four goals in Tuesday’s 4-3 loss at Toronto. Miller has also struggled against the Rangers this season, allowing seven goals in two meetings. Thomas Vanek has scored a goal in each of the past two games for the Sabres, but he hasn’t lit the lamp against New York in eight straight meetings.
Head to Head
The Sabres have owned a decided advantage in this series since 1996, going 33-21-7 overall and 17-9-4 when hosting the Blueshirts. I see Miller coming up big at home tonight and leading Buffalo to victory. The NHL betting trends support my picks with these two trends:
BUFFALO is 13-4 ATS (76.5%, +8.6 Units) off a road loss this season. The average score was BUFFALO 3.7, OPPONENT 2.4 - (Rating = 2*).
NY RANGERS are 4-13 ATS (23.5%, -13.1 Units) after having won 6 or 7 of their last 8 games over the last 3 seasons. The average score was NY RANGERS 1.7, OPPONENT 3.2 - (Rating = 2*).
My Pick: Buffalo