NHL Picks: Lightning vs. Sabres

David Lawrence

Tuesday, October 8, 2013 11:39 AM GMT

Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013 11:39 AM GMT

We preview tonight's hockey battle between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Buffalo Sabres in hopes of finding holes in the NHL betting odds. Which numbers do we believe hold the most promise for our NHL picks tonight?

It’s very early in the 2013-14 season but it’s becoming evident that the Buffalo Sabres just aren’t going to be a competitive team this season. After an 0-3-0 start where they’ve managed just two goals in three games, it’s quite clear that the Sabres are just buying time until they can trade away their veterans and start breaking this team down for parts.

Things aren’t that much rosier for Tampa Bay but at least they are coming off an impressive 3-2 shootout win in Chicago. Maybe – just maybe – this team can be better than some prognosticators thought.

Check out our NHL Picks of the Day for more free plays.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning can win because…

The Sabres can’t score. People who make NHL picks and pay attention to hockey know that the Sabres are an absolute mess on offense these days. They’ve scored two goals in three games and their power play is a pathetic zero-for-13 to start the season. In the game of hockey, if you can’t score, you can’t win.

Tampa Bay has played well against the Sabres recently, winning their last two trips to Buffalo when goaltender Ryan Miller has been in net. They’ve gotten to him as Miller has a 3.06 GAA against the Lightning.

The Lightning appear to have found a quality starting goaltender (finally) as Ben Bishop looked good in his first start of the season. He got the win on Saturday night and has outplayed Anders Lindback since the Lightning acquired him late last season. Tampa’s defense looks improved and if Bishop keeps this up, Tampa Bay could be a fringe playoff team.

The Buffalo Sabres can win because…

The Lightning are typically a cure for teams that are struggling offensively. Sure, the Sabres only have two goals in three games but that could change against a team that’s been one of the worst defensively over the last few seasons. Last season, the Lightning were 26th in goals allowed. In 2011-12, they were dead last. In 2010-11, they were 22nd. In 2009-10, they were 27th. You get the point. People who make their sports picks know that this team tends to give up plenty of goals because they have bad defense and questionable goaltending. The jury is still out on whether either of those two variables have changed.

If Ryan Miller is back in net (missed Saturday’s game with a groin injury), the Sabres will have a huge edge between the pipes. Even if he doesn’t play, Jhonas Enroth, who had a 1.98 GAA and .939 save percentage at home last season, should be good enough to lead the Sabres to a win.

Outlook & Pick

There’s no way that I’m laying any juice on the NHL odds with the Sabres under any circumstances but at the same time, I can’t trust the Lightning on the road. They were the third-worst road team in the NHL last season, notching just six wins in 24 road games. Instead, I see the best option for our sports picks is the 'Under'. It looks like Tampa Bay’s defense and/or goaltending is a little bit better than last season and that should lead to an under combined with Buffalo’s lack of offense.

Pick: Under 5.5 at WillHill
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