Buffalo Sabres vs. Florida Panthers - 1/9/14
Florida Panthers (16-21-6) at Buffalo Sabres (12-26-4)
NHL Hockey: Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 7:00 pm (First Niagara Center)
The Line: Buffalo Sabres -116 / Florida Panthers +105 --- Over/Under: 5 See the Latest Odds
In an ugly Eastern Conference matchup the Florida Panthers will travel north to take on the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center.
In the first matchup of the year between these two teams the Sabres pulled out a 3-1 win on Florida’s home ice. Florida recently received a jolt with the return of team captain Ed Jovanovski, who made his season debut in a win against the Nashville Predators on Saturday. In its last contest, the Panthers fell to the Montreal Canadiens by a score of 2-1. Fact remains that the Panthers rank in the bottom four in the NHL in every major category including goals per game and goals against per game.
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The Buffalo Sabres will look to repeat on its initial successful performance against Florida, but will have to do so without two key defenseman in Tyler Myers and Henrik Tallinder. Meyers was dealt a three game suspension and Tallinder is dealing with an upper body injury. The problem this presents for the Sabres is that those guys eat up a majority of the defensive minutes for a unit that Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth, who is the likely starter on Thursday, rely upon heavily on a nightly basis.
Buffalo enters Thursday night with a 5-3-2 mark over its last ten, while Florida holds a similar mark at 5-4-1 over its last ten. The Sabres are 5-0 in the last five home games and Florida has only won seven of 21 road games this season overall. I think that the majority of trends can be set aside in a head to head matchup of two poor teams. Despite the glaring deficiency that Buffalo will display on defense in this game, I still have to side with the home team in this ugly matchup.