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The Carolina Hurricanes will be without defenseman Jaccob Slavin.
The Buffalo Sabres are 5-0-1 in their last six games.
The Hurricanes beat the Sabres 5-3 in their first matchup.
Odds Taken from FanDuel Sportsbook.
32-9-8 (1st in Metropolitan Division)
26-19-4 (4th in Atlantic Division)
Martin Necas (45)
Tage Thompson (68)
Martin Necas (21)
Tage Thompson (34)
Brent Burns (26)
Rasmus Dahlin (41)
Brady Skjei (18)
Rasmus Dahlin (21)
Andrei Svechnikov (3.35)
Shots (Per Game)
Tage Thompson (4.06)
The Carolina Hurricanes will travel north to face the Buffalos Sabres for the second time this season. As I write this, the Hurricanes have not played their Tuesday game against the Los Angeles Kings. Carolina may enter this game with a healthy six-point lead over the New Jersey Devils or a less comfortable four or five-point lead. On the other side, the Sabres are one point outside of the second Wild Card spot with 56 points. They can take the second spot with a win tonight.
The Hurricanes have an interesting team. They have plenty of solid players but have mediocre offense. However, defensively, they are significantly better and often stifle opposing offenses. They allow less than 2.7 goals per game. If Carolina intends on making a Playoff run, their defense must continue to excel
The Hurricanes continue to be led by Martin Necas, Sebastian Aho, and Andrei Svechnikov. Necas and Aho each have 21 goals, but Svechnikov is right behind them with 19 goals.
I want to speak highly of Hurricane’s goaltenders Antti Raanta and Frederik Andersen. However, their numbers are not fantastic. They do not allow too many goals, but they also do not see many shots. With that being said, both Raanta and Andersen have proven they can perform in the Playoffs. Do not underestimate them when it matters.
The Sabres have the opposite problem of the Hurricanes. Their offense is electric and the second-highest scoring in the NHL. However, their defense is in the bottom half and allows 3.35 goals per game.
The Sabres have four players (Tage Thompson. Rasmus Dahlin, Alex Tuch, Jeff Skinner) with 50+ points. Thompson is the stud of this group, but the other three are also quite dangerous with the puck.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen will likely get the start in net for the Sabres. Luukkonen is having a tough season, and I would not be surprised if he struggles in this game. Expect him to give up at least three goals.
The Hurricanes may be playing the night before, but I will still pick them to win. Their defense will pick up the slack if need be and push them to victory. Bet on Carolina.
The Hurricanes are the favorites but will only win if they play aggressive defense and avoid committing penalties.
The Hurricanes are facing the Los Angeles Kings the night before and will not be well-rested. However, they will be facing a Sabres team that has not played since Saturday and will be well-rested. This puts Carolina at a disadvantage, but they can make up for it by playing aggressive defense out of the gates. If Carolina slows down the Sabres’ stars and lays out a few big hits in the first period, they will give themselves a much better chance of winning.
The Hurricanes have one of the worst power play units in the league but are facing a Sabres team with one of the best power play units. The Sabres convert over 25% of their opportunities. Carolina must play smart hockey and keep the Sabres’ power play unit off the ice.
The Sabres are the underdogs but will win with strong goaltending and passing.
The Sabres are one of the few teams in the NHL carrying three goaltenders. However, none of them are particularly impressive. Craig Anderson is the best of the three but could use some improvement. Regardless of who ends up in net, they will need to bring their A-game. The Hurricanes average over 35 shots a game, so strong goalie play will be paramount.
The Sabres have a fast-paced offense and a bevy of good passers. Four Sabres have 30 or more assists this season, so it is safe to say this is a pass-heavy team. They cannot forget that today and must continue to pass at a high level.
Brent Burns has played a large role in Carolina’s success this season. Burns leads the Hurricanes in TOI (23:20) and also has eight goals and 26 assists. More importantly, Burns is a strong defenseman. He is not as good as he once was, but he still provides a veteran presence on the ice and often anchors the Hurricanes’ defense.
Burns is 37 years old but needs to play as he did five years ago. Buffalo is full of offensive weapons, and he will need to slow them down.
I would have picked Tage Thompson, but he may miss this game with an injury. If Thompson misses this game, Alex Tuch will have to pick up much of his offensive slack. Even if Thompson plays, Tuch will have to carry much of the offensive load.
Tuch must look for his opportunities in this matchup and not be afraid to shoot.
What - Carolina Hurricanes vs Buffalo Sabres
Where - KeyBank Center, Buffalo, New York
When - Wednesday, February 1, 7:30 PM EST
How to Watch - TNT
Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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