NHL Picks: Sabres vs. Maple Leafs

David Lawrence

Thursday, February 21, 2013 1:06 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 1:06 PM UTC

Can a struggling Buffalo Sabres team pull off the upset as road dogs against the Toronto Maple Leafs? Find out how we see this match-up for your NHL picks today.

After a disappointing stretch where the Buffalo Sabres won just four times in15 games, the team has fired head coach Lindy Ruff. It’s understandable as only three NHL teams have fewer points. They’re a road dog on the NHL odds on Thursday but maybe a new man behind the bench will spark this team.

Record: 50-54 (-293)

The Buffalo Sabres Can Win Because…

They have a new coach. Although Ruff is one of the most respected head coaches in the NHL, his team simply wasn’t responding to him. The players are talented enough to get into the playoffs and compete but their recent effort was not reflective of that. They have lost four of five and their own fans booed their lack of effort.

The good news for Buffalo is that it can’t get any worse. A change behind the bench should give them a spark. We’ve seen it many times in the NHL and the Sabres have the talent to go on a run. They are more than capable of winning in Toronto and getting their season back on track.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Can Win Because…

They’re the team that’s playing better. They have won six of their last eight games and have won their last two home games by an 8-2 margin.

As for Buffalo, they are an absolute wreck. On one hand, they want to pin the fault on Ruff but the reality is that goaltender Ryan Miller is struggling, the defense has not performed as expected and even with an MVP-like year out of Thomas Vanek, the team isn’t scoring enough. General Manager Darcy Regehr canned Ruff because that was his only choice. In fact it’s Regehr’s awful moves – like signing Ville Leino to a boatload of money – that are the root of the problem and not the coaching staff. That means the Leafs should still see a sluggish Sabres team on Thursday.


Outlook & Pick

The Leafs haven’t been a good home team this year and while this is possibly a spot where they get the win, I don’t like the juice. Take the Sabres for your hockey picks. They should be inspired after the firing of their head coach and get the win in Toronto.

NHL Picks: Sabres +135 at Pinnacle

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