Buffalo Sabres @ Chicago Blackhawks Free NHL Pick 1/18/12
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The Sabres are in bad, bad shape on the road right now, and if they are going to find a way to win this matchup, they are going to have to get past all of these issues. The team has beaten 5-0 on the road on Tuesday by the Detroit Red Wings, and now they have to turn around and play Detroit’s arch rival on the road just 48 hours later. That defeat was the ninth in a row on the road for Buffalo. The last time that it won a game on the road was back on December 3rd against the Nashville Predators. To make matters worse for Sabres backers though, the team hasn’t even been sticking in front of the +1.5 goal line. Buffalo has been beaten by at least two goals in eight of the nine road losses that we have discussed, and in this stretch, it has been outscored by a whopping margin of 36-12. Needless to say, the entire team is failing at this point when playing on the road, and as a result, hopes of making the playoffs are really starting to get dimmer and dimmer for Head Coach Lindy Ruff and company, and one has to wonder how much longer this team can go without a coaching change.
The Blackhawks on the other hand, are really doing well. They have their work cut out for them in the wild Central Division, where four teams could all still win the division, and all four are certainly going to make the playoffs. Patrick Sharp is still out of the lineup in this one, but at least there is no doubt that the talent is there aside from him to be able to do a ton of damage offensively. Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews have combined for 41 goals and 53 assists this year, and the 94 points combined makes them one of the best duos for scoring in the game. Sharp already has 20 goals and 20 assists, so he will be sorely missed, but Patrick Kane has 39 points and Viktor Stalberg quietly has 28. The combo of Duncan Keith and Nick Leddy, the two of which are usually paired with the front line, have 42 assists between them, and they are both finding ways to get involved in the game on the offensive end of the ice consistently.
Buffalo Sabres @ Chicago Blackhawks Pick: Chicago is just clearly the better team in this game, and we just don’t know if the Sabres are going to win this game even one out of three times. We might consider taking the Sabres on the puck line at a reasonable price around -130, but in the end, if we have to make a pick on this one, we are going to lay the -200.
Free Hockey Pick: Chicago Blackhawks
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