Free Daily NFL Lock Pick, Thursday December 7th: New England vs Pittsburgh 8:15pm ET
The Buffalo Sabres (10-14-2, 22 points, 7th Atlantic) pay a visit to TD Garden in Boston on Thursday for an Atlantic division showdown against the division leading Boston Bruins (14-7-3, 37 points, 1st Atlantic). Buffalo was defeated by the Detroit Red Wings 5-3 on Tuesday night and has lost each of its last four. Boston defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday 3-1 on a hat trick from Brad Merchand and the Bruins have won three straight. Buffalo will play without LW Zemgus Girgensons, LW Jordan Greenway, RW Jack Quinn and RW Alex Tuch. Boston will play without LW Milan Lucic
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Buffalo needs to score more and give up less
The Buffalo Sabres are averaging 2.85 goals per game, which is 25th in hockey, while taking an average of 29.2 shots per game which is 26th. Buffalo’s power play is scoring 15.8% of the time which is 25th, while the Sabres are winning only 44.6% of their face offs which is last in the NHL. Jeff Skinner has scored a team high 11 goals for Buffalo, while JJ Peterka has scored 10. Casey Mittelstadt is the leader in assists with 16 and Rasmus Dahlin is second with 15. Mittelstadt has a team best 22 points and Dahlin is second with 21, while Skinner has 20.
Buffalo’s blue line has a goals against average of 3.46, which is 24th in the NHL. The Sabres are allowing an average of 29.8 shots per game which is 12th. Buffalo’s penalty kill unit is slightly above average, holding opponents scoreless 81.2% of the time the Sabres are shorthanded, which is 14th. Buffalo goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is 6-5-1 with a 2.81 goals against average and .907 save percentage, but missed Buffalo’s last game. Devon Levi, who was called up Tuesday from the minors, will be in net if Luukkonen cannot go. Levi is 3-4-1 with a 3.73 GA/G and .876 SV%.
Boston is tough to stop with the puck and hard to beat in goal
The Boston Bruins are averaging 3.33 goals per game which is 10th best in the NHL. Boston is averaging the 13th most shots at 31.8 per game while winning 50.3% of their face offs which is 18th. Boston’s power play scores 22.8% of the time which is 10th best. David Pastrnak has scored a team best 14 goals, while Brad Marchand has scored 11. Pastrnak is the leader in assists with 22 and the overall points leader with 36, while Charlie McAvoy is second in assists with 14. Marchand is second in points with 23.
Boston has a goals against average of 2.46, which is third best in the NHL. Boston is allowing an average of 31.8 shots per game which is 23rd. Boston’s penalty kill unit is hockey’s second best, holding opponents scoreless 89% of the time the Bruins are shorthanded. Boston has a tough duo of goalies. Jeremy Swayman is 9-1-2 with a 2.08 goals against average and .932 save percentage, while Linus Ullmark is 8-3-1 with a 2.65 goals against average and .918 save percentage. Swayman has two shutouts in 13 appearances between the pipes.
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Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Boston’s attack, which is one of hockey’s best, will take advantage of a weak blue line for Buffalo, and on the other end of the ice, the Bruins blue line and goalie will keep the below average Buffalo attack at bay. Boston is 10th best in goals for and third best in goals against, while in comparison Buffalo is 25th in goals for and 24th in goals against. In all likelihood, Linus Ullmark will be between the pipes for Boston on Thursday and has a 2.65 goals against average and .918 save percentage. Ullmark was in goal on November 14, when Boston defeated Buffalo 5-2, stopping 32 of 34 shots on goal. Boston has four players that have scored between 8 and 14 goals, one of which is Brad Marchant who is coming off a natural hat trick when Boston defeated Columbus 3-1 on Sunday night. Boston will also be well rested as the Bruins have not played since Sunday, while Buffalo played both Sunday and Tuesday prior to Thursday’s meeting with the Bruins on the road.
Prediction: Boston Bruins
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Full-Game Total Pick
The total has finished ordering four of Buffalo’s last six games and in four the last five games that Buffalo has played on the road. The total has finished over in seven of Boston’s last 10 games and in four of the last five games that Boston has played against Buffalo, including on November 14, when the Bruins beat Buffalo 5-2. Buffalo is 24th in goals against at 3.46 per game and Boston is 10th in goals for, at 3.33 per game.