NHL Betting Preview: Sabres at NY Rangers
By: Adam Markowitz
Monday, February 28, 2011
The Rangers have won both encounters with the Sabres this season.
Monday marks the NHL's trade deadline, when teams are usually flip-flopping picks and players all over the map. The Buffalo Sabres could be one of the more active teams on the day now that they have a new owner in place that is willing to spend some cash.
More importantly though, they are set to engage in a battle to beat the NHL odds one day after the deadline at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers in a duel that is pivotal for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference. The puck drops on Tuesday night at 4:00 (PT).
Buffalo did in fact make a move late Sunday when the Sabres acquired 28-year-old center Brad Boyes from St. Louis for a 2011 second-round draft pick. Boyes should be in uniform for this matchup and add a little punch to the Buffalo power play.
Interestingly enough, Buffalo has a better road record coming into this game (15-10-4) than New York does a home record (14-14-3). This could loom large both in this game, and down the stretch for the rest of the season. The Sabres enter Tuesday night's NHL betting affair just two points in the rears of the Carolina Hurricanes, who are the last team in the tournament as of right now. Only three points in front of the 'Canes is where the Rangers reside, and the men from the Empire State have to be wondering how safe that cushion is, especially since Buffalo has played two fewer games.
Boyes was brought in to help make up for the absence of Derek Roy who is still dealing with a quadriceps injury that has kept him out of the lineup since December 23, an injury that ultimately could cost him the rest of the season. Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford are both 20+ goal guys with 23 and 24 respectively. Vanek is the club's leader in both assists with 29 and total points with 52.
Unfortunately though, he is the only player on the team that has even 40 points on the year. Boyes tallied 41 in 62 games for St. Louis, scoring 12 times and assiting on 29 additional goals.
Ryan Miller is likely to be in net on Tuesday. He is 26-18-6 on the season with a 2.66 GAA and a .914 save percentage. Miller has allowed two goals or fewer in six straight starts, but he is only 2-3-1 to show for them.
A two-game winning streak went by the boards on Sunday for the Rangers, as they were dropped in the first game of this three-game homestand 2-1 by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Just as Buffalo really needs to make a move, so do the Rangers. They have some key stars right now that are nursing injuries like Marc Staal, Ruslan Fedotenko, Chris Drury and Marian Gaborik. Both Staal and Fedotenko could be back for this one on Tuesday, but it isn't particularly likely. Gaborik and Drury are definitely out, and they could be out for quite awhile.
If you thought the offensive numbers for Buffalo were bad, New York is worse, at least when it comes to top scorers. Head coach John Tortorella has just one player on his entire team with more than 38 points on the year, and Brandon Dubinsky only has 19 goals and 24 helpers to total 43 points.
The good news though is that there are seven players with at least 10 goals on the season, and a total of 10 players with at least 22 points.
Thus far this season, it has really been all about the Rangers in this series. The NHL betting breaks have bounced their way in victories of 3-2 at home and 6-3 at Buffalo's HSBC Arena. However, the Sabres had beaten the NHL lines in six of the previous eight meetings.