Buffalo Sabres (15-32-8) at Ottawa Senators (25-21-11)
|Date & Time||Thursday February 6, 2014, 7:30 PM (EST)|
The Line: Ottawa Senators -205 / Buffalo Sabres +186 --- Over/Under: 5.5
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The Sabres return to the ice less than 24 hours after getting wallpapered by the Penguins as they take to the road to face the Ottawa Senators.
The Sabres showed last night once again why they are the leading candidate to secure the top overall selection in July’s NHL Entry Draft as they are a class below every other team in the league this season and things won’t get better any time soon. Buffalo has undergone a number of changes both on and off the ice over the last calendar year and while they received praise for getting such a nice return on Thomas Vanek in the form of Matt Moulson, the former Islanders forward has been placed on injured reserve and could very well be on his way back out of town by the trade deadline as he is a pending unrestricted free agent. Buffalo is also likely to lose long time goaltender Ryan Miller who if not traded will certainly be on his way out the door once the season finishes but for the time being he is just going to stay mum on the situation and play his way to a lucrative contract in the summer. Miller will likely be on the bench for this one as he got waxed last night against the Penguins and we should see Jhonas Enroth get the call against the Senators.
The Senators have started to play better hockey of late after what was considered a disappointing beginning to the year especially with expectations being what they are in the Canadian capital. Ottawa is right in the mix in the Eastern Conference playoff picture – a spot they have grown accustomed to over the past couple of years and if they can continue their strong play they have a shot at jumping up the ladder and possibly landing home ice advantage in the opening round. Ottawa does need to address some issues though if they want to make the postseason as their -18 goal differential is one of the worst among playoff contenders and lately they have played a lot like their provincial rivals from Toronto in the sense they’re getting completely outshot and outplayed and have been bailed out by their goaltending. Despite dropping a tough one to Pittsburgh earlier in the week the Sens responded in their last outing and now have a chance at two in a row against the lowly Sabres and while this is still a divisional show down I don’t see Buffalo playing up to the level they do when they face the Leafs. I think Ottawa needs this game a lot more and I expect they’ll come out firing against Buffalo’s backup.