Sabres Feeling the Vibe and Will Keep Devils on Wrong Path

Dana Lane

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 5:48 PM UTC

Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 5:48 PM UTC

The Sabres allowed only one goal in winning their past three games, all on the road, and tonight they return home against the reeling Devils. Is it a safe bet to think both trends will continue?

[/]{"component":"video", "type":"youtube", "url":"", "videoSize":"Large" }[/]Tuesday NHL: Devils vs. SabresFree NHL Pick: Sabres -105Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

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Welcome back to the second half of the NHL season. (It technically started a few weeks ago, but let’s go with it.) Teams are getting a fresh start after the All-Star break, with some focusing toward the playoffs and others wondering what the February 26 trade deadline will bring.

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Brock Boeser (@Canucks), Jack Eichel (@BuffaloSabres), Robin Lehner (BUF) named Three Stars of the Week.

— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 29, 2018

I want to make sure I keep the Sabres' recent success in western Canada in proper perspective, but it’s hard not to be impressed with any Buffalo win, let alone three -- in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. Yes, I know, not exactly the cream of the NHL crop, but when you allow a total of one goal in three consecutive road games you have to take some notice.

The vibe in the Sabres' locker room has to be at a season high, and that could serve them well tonight as they try to do something they’ve had trouble doing for a long time: win at home. Blindly betting them at KeyBank Center has left many Buffalo faithful penniless. Buffalo is 6-12-3 at home, so why should tonight against the Devils be different?

The answer could be as simple as anticipating the Sabres' best effort, because if they want to salvage anything from this season it starts now. The game marks the beginning of a long stretch of home games for Coach Phil Housley’s team; 20 of Buffalo's last 33 games are home. You might not get Buffalo in a better frame of mind than they are now.

The last time Buffalo played at home, on January 20, they got drilled 7-1 by Dallas. The Sabres looked like a team that couldn’t wait to get out of town. A funny thing happened on the road trip.They started to work hard, which created space and opportunity. Robin Lehner was sensational in shutting out Vancouver and Edmonton, making at least 30 saves in each win.

The Devils' room is likely not as joyful after failing to find points in four straight games, but the issues go deeper. John Hynes' team is hanging on to its playoff life after dropping 10 of its last 12 games. They’ve scored only three goals in their last four games combined, and allowed at least three goals in each of their last five. In their last 12 games New Jersey has given up 39 goals (3.25). That average alone would place a team 27th in the league in goals allowed but 20th overall isn’t great either (2.96).

At this point, looking at the NHL odds board, I can’t bet against a team that is playing exceptionally well defensively against one that is in a complete downward spiral, so with my NHL picks I'm taking the Sabres.

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