Buffalo Sabres (14-30-3) at Calgary Flames (25-19-3)
|Date & Time||Tuesday January 27, 2015, 9:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Calgary Flames -280 / Buffalo Sabres +248 --- Over/Under: 5.5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+. Start your 7-day FREE trial today!|
After a brief stretch of some successful hockey the Buffalo Sabres have reverted back to the miserable ways we saw to start the year. Buffalo returns from the All-Star break losers of 11 straight games and last in the NHL in points with 31. The biggest struggle for the Sabres this season has been playing on the road where they’re 4-17-1 on the season and they’ve got four road games to start their second half before finally returning home in early February. Buffalo has allowed 17 goals in their last three games and their 3.53 goals against per game average is easily the worst in the league. Add to that the fact that they’re last in goals per game with a measly 1.77 and it’s easy to understand why they’re the worst team in hockey. The Sabres are last in both power play percentage and penalty killing, shots against per game, and shots for per game. It’s a comedy of errors right now in Buffalo and the Sabres organization just has to hope that the young players they’re filtering into the lineup aren’t going to be ruined playing in the midst of all this losing. There is a lot of talent coming up through the system in Buffalo but righ now the Sabres are just overmatched on most nights by just about every other team in the league. To get things started here they’ll have to travel to Calgary to take on a Flames club that knows what it’s like to go through some rebuilding. If the Sabres can expedite their process like the Flames have there might finally be something to get excited about in Buffalo.
Calgary enters the second half as one of the league’s biggest surprises. With 53 points the Flames find themselves in the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and a legitimate chance at making the post season for the first time since the 2008-09 season. This group has been turned around by young players like Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan adding punch to the lineup that the Flames haven’t had in years. Calgary has actually been more impressive on the road this season so if they want to finish this season strong and find themselves in the playoffs they’re going to need to really start playing better hockey on home ice. Calgary is just 11-9-2 so far at the Scotiabank Saddledome and if they keep that up in the second half it’s not going to cut it. Now would be a good time for the Flames to start because Tuesday’s match up with the Sabres is the first of six straight games on home ice and 10 of their next 12. Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo have played well in net through the first half but Calgary is really going to need one of them to step up even more down the stretch. Hiller hasn’t been rewarded as much as he should for the type of play he’s given them but if the Flames can find a way to bump themselves up a few spots in their defensive categories they have enough offense to be in this race all the way until the end.
It’s always tough gauging how clubs are going to come out after the break. Buffalo has been an absolute mess and this is the type of game the Flames can’t afford to let slip away if they want to be taken seriously as a true playoff contender.