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All good things must come to an end as was the case last night as my 2015 unbeaten streak was snapped, however my picks went 1-1 on the night and assuming equal dollar amounts were placed on both wagers, the result was a complete wash. The winning pick came out of Boston as the Bruins were able to knock off the low-scoring Devils in shutout fashion by a 3-0 score. As I mentioned in yesterday’s writing, the Bruins are a candidate to gain some steam here and shoot up the Eastern Conference standings now that they are healthy and have obtained some confidence after a tough stretch of games. I took my first loss of the New Year shortly after that result as the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers didn’t quite participate in the track meet I was expecting and the 3-2 final in overtime for the Flyers fell under the 5.5 total. A scoreless second period was what hurt us here as well as both goalies playing solid games for their respective teams. I’m back at it tonight with five games on the NHL schedule.
Buffalo Sabres @ Tampa Bay Lightning
My Pick – OVER 5.5 (+105)
One of the Eastern Conference’s best teams will play host to one the East’s worst teams as the Tampa Bay Lightning welcome the lowly Buffalo Sabres to town. Tampa Bay returns home from a four-game road trip that saw them go 3-1-0 while Buffalo has lost six consecutive games that included a 5-1 loss to this same Tampa Bay team in Buffalo that began the Lightning’s just-completed road trip. Buffalo has scored just seven goals over those six losses; however the reasoning for this pick is the Sabres surrendered 27 goals or 4.5 per game over that stretch. While Steven Stamkos was held largely in check on Tampa’s road trip, his elite offensive abilities actually weren’t required. The trio of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, and Nikita Kucherov have been lighting the league on fire as of late. Johnson has seven goals and 11 points over his last seven games and that includes back-to-back two goals games to finish off the road trip. Johnson now has 45 points to lead the Lightning is tied for third in league scoring. Kucherov has 41 points this season out of absolutely no where, while he and Johnson both sit at an incredible +26 on the season. The third part of the trio Ondrej Palat, who along with Johnson was considered for Rookie of the Year last season, sits with 32 points and 23 assists, largely being the distributor for his linemates that both have 17 goals on the season. In fact, if you combine the totals for all three linemates, they have 118 points and are +74 on the season. That is some serious production from your second line. As I have mentioned many times this season, Tampa Bay has the most scoring depth in the entire NHL and it’s not even that close. They score 3.24 goals per game while the Sabres give up 3.43 per contest. This game is shaping up as another blowout between these two teams, and perhaps Buffalo can turn the tide and score a couple goals of their own. Take the OVER 5.5 at another nice price for this Tampa Bay Lightning team.