Chicago Blackhawks vs Buffalo Sabres: Predictions, Odds and Roster Notes

How to Watch

Where: KeyBank Center – Buffalo, NY.

When: Friday, February 1, 7PM EST.

How (TV/Radio): TVAS, SNO, SNE, SNP, MSGB, NBCSCH | TheFan 1270

Chicago Blackhawks (Away)

Head Coach: Jeremy Colliton {All-Time 12-18-6 CHI}

Since taking over for legendary coach Joel Quenneville back in November and starting his first coaching gig with a 3-12-2 in his first month, new coach Jeremy Colliton seems to have started to right the ship. Colliton is now 12-18-6 behind the bench and is trending to be .500 by mid-February. It’s evident that the Blackhawks aren’t they powerhouse they once were in recent years, but Colliton is making the most with what he has and the players seem to have woken up under his lead.

Offensively, there is little difference between these two teams statistically but it’s on the backend where Chicago will have to be careful. Defensively, the Blackhawks numbers leave much to be desired – the largest issue being their penalty kill (ranked last in the league at 74.1 per cent). Added to that is the fact that Chicago is ranked 30th in the league in both shots allowed (35 per game average) and goals allowed (3.71 per game on average). Those numbers don’t bode well for a team going up against Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner, Kyle Oksposo, et al.

Chicago has also struggled in the crease. With starter Corey Crawford still out with a concussion, goaltender Collin Delia (4-2-3) is expected to get the start.

Buffalo Sabres (Home)

Head Coach: Phil Housley {All-Time 50-63-18 BUF}

The Buffalo Sabres have the better overall record heading into this match-up, but have struggled over their last ten games going 4-6-0. That being said, the Sabres will be coming off a road trip and returning home to the KeyBank Center for this game – a building in which they are currently 14-6-3 for the season. Compare this to Chicago’s 8-14-3 road record and it’s safe to say there is a Sabres’ advantage before the first puck is even dropped.

The Sabres also have a distinct advantage when it comes to shots on goal. Averaging 32.4 per game. This ranks them 10th in the league. This heavy firepower may prove too much for Chicago’s inexperienced goaltender Delia.

Buffalo also brings a penalty kill that is almost the polar opposite of their opponents. The Sabres currently rank 9th in the league with an 81.1 per cent success rate when down a man.

The Sabres made easy work of the Blackhawks in their last meeting on March 17, 2018, with a score of 5-2.

What’s At Stake?

The Sabres are having one of their best seasons in recent years and it seems to come from the chemistry between the young squad. Chemistry is the main factor heading in to this game as Chicago seems to have just started to find theirs. Buffalo is 9th in the East, currently one spot out of a playoff spot and yet only seven points back of second place.

Chicago, on the other hand, is sitting in the 14th seed in the West with 45 points – 20 points back of third place. With less than half the season left to play, this is Buffalo’s game to lose.

Questions to answer

Can Chicago goaltender Collin Delia keep up with 32+ shots being peppered from Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner, Kyle Okposo, and the rest of Buffalo’s deadly offense?

Is rookie head coach Jeremy Colliton able to keep the Blackhawks moving in the right direction?

With the home ice advantage for Buffalo and Chicago’s poor road play, is this game over before it even begins?

Chicago Blackhawks Injury Report

F Brendan Perlini – day-to-day (concussion)

D Gustav Forsling – IR (torson)

G Corey Crawford – IR (concussion)

Buffalo Sabres Injury Report

D Casey Nelson – IR (upper-body)

Chicago Blackhawks at Buffalo Sabres Predictions and Odds

The Buffalo Sabres are a -125 favorite over the +100 Chicago Blackhawks.