Buffalo has been charging up the Eastern Conference
standings in 2011 and they finally find themselves in a playoff spot. On
Tuesday, they’ll travel to Pittsburgh and try to continue their hot streak.
The Buffalo Sabres might be a little road weary as they are in
the midst of a season-long road trip so look for Pittsburgh to take advantage.
The Buffalo Sabres
Can Win Because…:
They’ve been one of the best teams in the NHL in 2011.
Many hockey handicappers seem to forget that the Sabres were in the
basement of the Eastern Conference standings back on December 27th
when they suffered their 22nd loss in their first 36 games. Since
then, the Sabres are 18-7-4 and have climbed their way back into the playoff
Heading into Tuesday’s matchup, they are the No. 8 seed in
the conference and are winners of five of their last seven games.
The Sabres are more than halfway through their season-long
seven-game road trip and so far, so good. They are 3-0-1 on the trip to this
point and are 6-0-1 in their last seven road games overall. On the season, they
are 18-10 when playing on the road with a total of 5.5.
A key factor here could be the fact that goaltender Ryan
Miller, who had started 39 of the previous 41 Sabres games, got a rest on
Sunday as he watched his team outlast the Minnesota Wild 3-2. He should be
fresher for this contest.
Penguins Can Win Because…:
They have passed rock-bottom and are now back on the
Without a doubt, the Pittsburgh Penguins have been dealt a tough hand
when it comes to injuries. February was a harsh month in that respect but after
a couple of trade deadline acquisitions along with the return of some key
players, the Penguins are back in business.
They are now 2-0-2 in their last four games and a gutsy
overtime win in Boston shows that this team still has it. Even without Sidney
Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins turned in an impressive effort on the
road in Boston to stall their seven-game winning streak.
One thing that gets somewhat overlooked with the Penguins
is that they only played five home games in their last 16. They are 20-11-2 at
home and will be happy to know that seven of their next 10 are at home.
The Pens are 16-9 when at home with a total of 5.5 and
they have won four of the last five home meetings with Buffalo.
Outlook & NHL
The Sabres are hot but if there is one spot where they
might cool off, this would be it. They struggle in Pittsburgh and their star
goaltender, Ryan Miller, doesn’t play well against them.
Miller has just two wins in his last 12 starts against
Pittsburgh with a GAA of 3.57. On the flip side, Pens goaltender Marc-Andre
Fleury is 3-0-0 against the Sabres this season with a GAA of 1.34 and is 7-1-0
in his last eight starts against them with a GAA of 2.23.
The Sabres are coming off two emotionally-charged road
wins and this will be a third contest in four nights for them. While they are
playing well, give the edge to Pittsburgh in this contest.
NHL Free Pick: Penguins