Money Line Pick
What a disastrous year for the Buffalo Sabres as they have now lost four in a row and five of their last six! They sit at the bottom of the East Division, ten points out of a playoff spot. In their last five games, they are averaging 35.6 shots against per game and their superstars are starting to see some bad numbers beside their names. Sam Reinhart is a minus 11, Taylor Hall is minus 14 and young stud defenseman Rasmus Dahlin is minus 17. It will be tough for these three to recover from those numbers by the end of the year. As they look to break out of their slump they will travel to play the New York Islanders, who have won all three games against the Sabres this season.
The Islanders are 7-0-2 at home this year and have won four of their last five games. In their last eight they have the fourth best power play at 29.4 percent which is being led by Nick Leddy, who has eight power play points this year. The Islanders have great scoring depth as the top six players are spread out over their three lines. Andres Lee leads the team with 10 goals this season, including three in his last five games. Matthew Barzal has four points in his last four games and is starting to become a force in the offensive zone that most teams’ top defense pairings can’t handle. The Islanders will be up against Sabres backup goaltender Carter Hutton who is 1-6-1 with a 3.18 goals against average this season and they will come away with the two points.
Take the Islanders.
Game Totals Pick
Buffalo simply cannot score of late as they are averaging 2.20 goals per game this season which puts them at 29th in the league. Of course the troubles start at the top of the lineup with Jack Eichel only scoring twice and Taylor Hall having registered one goal all season. On Thursday the Islanders will have Semyon Varlamov in net with his .927 save percentage and three shutouts on the year putting him into Vezina Trophy conversations. The Islanders have the third best goals against average in the NHL at 2.23 and a top ten penalty killing unit at 82.8 percent. Combine these with a Sabres team that is lost in the offensive zone and I like New York to score a few early and start to play a shutdown game heading into the third period. All three of their previous games against each other have gone under the total number and Buffalo has been shutout in two of their last three games.
Take the Under.