In this matchup, one team is the defending Stanley Cup champion, is a favorite to repeat (accoding to the NHL odds) and sent the most players of any team to the Sochi Olympics. The other is last in the NHL in points and just traded their best player/franchise player/starting goalie as well as their captain. It looks like a lopsided matchup on Sunday afternoon as Chicago heads to Buffalo for a matinee on NBC.
The Chicago Blackhawks Can Win Because….
Have you seen this lineup lately? There may not be a deeper team in the NHL than the Blackhawks, who can roll four lines every night and come at teams in waves. Four of their defensemen also made the Olympics and it could have been five had Brent Seabrook got the call. You could have also made a case for Crawford making the Canadian team as the third goalie instead of Phoenix’s Mike Smith. They lead the NHL in goals scored and they are third on the power play, so if the Sabres play undisciplined hockey and end up in the penalty box, the Blackhawks can make them pay over and over again.
This is just a complete mismatch from head-to-toe. Unless the Blackhawks are half-asleep, they’re the better choice for your NHL picks.
The Buffalo Sabres Can Win Because….
The Sabres have won four of six since the NHL resumed after the Olympics and that’s mostly after Miller was traded (he was in goal for just one game). Buffalo is in full-on rebuild mode and they don’t have anything to lose by going out there and leaving it all on the ice. Right now, they don’t have much talent, but anything can happen when you compete as hard as you can. It’s not crazy to think that they could catch Chicago on an off-day as the Blackhawks have lost three of their last five. As a matter of fact, if you take a look at the two teams over their last 22 games, they are virtually equal: the Blackhawks are 9-6-7 while the Sabres are 8-10-4. Maybe this matchup is going to be much closer than people think.
Outlook & Pick
The Blackhawks have definitely had the edge in this matchup recently, winning four in a row over the Sabres, although three of those were by a single goal. However, be careful laying all of that juice here with your sports picks. The Blackhawks are a -210 favorite on the college basketball odds board but as mentioned above, the Sabres have been virtually their equal over their last 22 games. The Blackhawks have not been particularly crisp since the calendar flipped to 2014 and they have had some ugly, costly losses for bettors. On top of that, they’ve dropped three straight on the road while getting shut out once and going 0-for-7 on the power play.
I like the over in this one. The Sabres have scored 12 goals in their three home games since the Olympic break while the Blackhawks has totaled 16 goals during their four-game winning streak over Buffalo. If those averages continue, we’ll get the over.
College Basketball Pick: Over 5.5 at Bovada