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Game 1 Preview: Boston Bruins @ Buffalo Sabres

Posted by in NHL Picks on April 14th, 2010 | Comment »

The playoffs are a time when sportsbook experts look at a team’s regular season record and determine how they may perform in the playoffs. The Buffalo Sabres had a quietly effective season. For the first 40 games of the season it looked like the Sabres were going to win the President’s Trophy again, but in the second half of the season the team fell asleep and while they were able to hang on to the Northeast Division, they failed to put together a consistent effort on any given night.

The sports betting vibe on the Boston Bruins is much different. The Bruins beat the Sabres four out of the six times the teams met this season, and the Bruins have won six of their last 10 games. When you bet NHL playoffs games, you need to look at the whole regular season to determine how a series will play out. This series between the Sabres and the Bruins will be physical, low scoring and it could very well go seven games. The Bruins proved that home ice is not a comfort as they won in the Sabres’ building during the regular season.

The difference in this game, and the whole series, could be speed. The Bruins are missing three starting defensemen due to injury. Mark Stuart is out with a finger injury, Dennis Seidenberg is gone due to arm surgery and Andrew Ference is hobbled with a groin injury. With half of their starting defense out, the Bruins will need to figure out how to contend with new Sabre speedsters such as Tyler Ennis and Nathan Gerbe. The Sabres may find themselves able to get behind the Bruin defense on a regular basis.

The NHL odds makers have the Sabres at 15 to 1 to win the Stanley Cup, and they have the Bruins at 35 to 1. One of the reasons for the gap between the two teams is goaltending. While the Bruins have found their answer in Tuukka Rask, it took them half the season to figure it out. That may not be fair to the Bruins as  Rask has put up the best goaltending numbers in the league and is challenging Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalie.

Ryan Miller has been as steady as a goalie can be. The new American Olympic hero has posted a 2.22 goals against average for the season, and he has had another 40+ win season with 41 wins. Miller is the reason that the Sabres defense can pinch in the offensive zone and allow defensemen like rookie sensation Tyler Myers to put 48 offensive points on the board which includes 11 goals.

The Bruins are without their scoring ace Marc Savard, but the slack is being picked up by scorers such as Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Don’t forget captain Zdeno Chara and his 44 points as well. The Bruins also still have their top goal-scorer Marco Sturm in the lineup as well.

If the Bruins defense cannot figure out the Sabre offense then this could be a short series. But the Bruins may decide to physically punish the Sabres as a way of counteracting the Sabres speed. The only question is; can the Bruins catch the Sabres to punish them?

Pick: Buffalo Sabres 3-1

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