Saturday, 7 PM ET
Free NHL Pick: Sabres ML
Best Line Offered: BetOnline
The Bruins and Sabres are both an enigma as of late, beating playoff contending teams and then losing to bottom feeders. The Bruins lost their last two games to Carolina (5-3 on December 23) and 5-2 to New Jersey on Thursday and the Sabres got embarrassed in St. Louis Thursday losing 4-1 to a Blues team many believe will start selling off assets as they rebuild for next season. Unlike the Bruins though, the Sabres don’t have the Winter Classic hanging over their heads and that will play a role Saturday as Buffalo bounce back with a big win again.
Following their loss to the Devils Thursday, the Bruins didn’t believe that their upcoming New Year’s day tilt with the Blackhawks in Notre Dame Stadium was distracting them, but their play on the ice in that game and even back to December 23 says otherwise. Boston is going through the motions and lacking the focus and intensity that’s required to even have a shot at winning. The gut feel here after taking in that loss to the Devils Thursday, is that won’t completely continue on Saturday night in Buffalo, but the 60-minute effort required to beat a team like the Sabres won’t be there and the B’s will pay for it in the end.
The Sabres are having issues of their own lately, specifically with 2nd and 3rd tier scoring. Captain Jack Eichel and his linemmate Jeff Skinner are having career seasons and that, along with solid goaltending from Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark, have them competing for the top slot in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference. If they are to continue to challenge the likes of Tampa Bay and Toronto, then the rest of the lineup needs to step up. Against a distracted Boston team, may be the perfect time to do so!
The Bruins are 20-18 against the spread and 7-13 on the road. Boston has scored 107 goals and allowed 101. They’re 14-22-2 on the over/under and 6-14-0 on the road. The Bruins are 18-20 on the puck line and 8-12 on the road. David Pastrnak leads the team in goals with 23 lamplighters and points with 47. Brad Marchand leads the Bruins in assists with 29 helpers. Since missing 16 games with a broken clavicle and ribs last Saturday, Patrice Bergeron has 3 goals and 2 assists.
The Sabres are 21-17 against the spread and 12-6 at home. Buffalo has scored 112 goals and allowed 109. They’re 18-18-2 on the over/under and 10-8-0 at home. The Sabres are 24-14 on the puck line and 9-9 at home. Eichel leads the Sabres in assists with 34 helpers and points with 49. Skinner leads the team in goals with 26 lamplighters.
- For the Bruins, Halak is 12-6-0-2 with a 2.28 GAA and .928 save percentage. Rask is 8-8-0-2 with 2.72 GAA and .911 save percentage.
- For the Sabres, Hutton is 13-11-0-2 with a 2.64 GAA and .916 save percentage and Ullmark is 8-10-3 with a 2.71 GAA and a .922 save percentage.
- For the Bruins, Charlie McAvoy is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
- Marchand is considered unlikely to play Saturday due to an upper-body injury.
- David Backes could get suspended for hit on Blake Coleman Thursday.
- For the Sabres, forward Jason Pominville is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury; forward Casey Nelson is on injured reserve with an upper body injury and forward Scott Wilson is out indefinitely with an ankle injury.
Prediction: Sabres 3, Bruins 2