To say the 2011 – 12 NHL season has been a bizarre one for fans and handicappers alike, would be putting it lightly. What started out as a season full of high expectations for the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres, turned into one filled with talk of rebuilds. Presently, with two weeks left in the regular season, it is these same Capitals and Sabres, who are battling it out for the right to be named the final entrant into the www.betonline.com NHL playoffs. Today, we will be looking at which team has a better chance of qualifying, and how far they could possibly go.
The Buffalo Sabres were one of the busiest teams this past offseason, as new owner Terry Pegula, made it clear, that not only did he want to build New York’s forgotten city into a contender for years to come, but he also wanted to win right now. Pegula gave Sabres management a budget that was twice the size the last owners were willing to offer. As a result, the Sabres literally went from looking like the St. Bonaventure Bonnies to potential March Madness betting champions, the Kentucky Wildcats. With a roster filled with stars, it appeared as only a matter of time before Buffalo was being mentioned amongst the NHL’s most elite teams.
However, then the Boston incident happened. For those unfamiliar with the situation, early in the season, Boston and Buffalo played a game in which Bruins power forward Milan Lucic absolutely ran over goalie Ryan Miller, before the Bruins ran over the Sabres and won the game. After that game, the Sabres went into a downward spiral, as they quickly found themselves in the Eastern Conference basement. Once the bookie software odds were at an all time low in early February, the Sabres finally woke up. Since the beginning of February, the Sabres have gone 18-five-five and seven-one-two in their last 10 games. They now sit deadlocked with the Washington Capitals for the eighth spot.
On the other hand, the Washington Capitals have become the Eastern Conference version of the San Jose Sharks. In other words, they are a team that has often dominated throughout the regular season, only to crumble during the playoffs. Comparable to Sabres, the expectations entering the season were extremely high for Washington. As a result, when they got off to a slow start, current Anaheim Ducks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau was jettisoned for OHL standout and Capitals alumni Dale Hunter. Under Hunter, the Capitals have become a better defensive team, but stars Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin have struggled offensively. As a matter of fact, Ovechkin, one of the highest paid players in the NHL, did not collect his 60th point until yesterday’s victory over the Minnesota Wild.
As we edge closer to the playoffs, the final six games for both the Capitals and Sabres couldn’t be more important. Sportsbook reviews from around the world, are plugging tomorrow night’s game featuring the two teams facing each other as the biggest game of the year, and rightfully so. For all intents and purposes, who ever wins tomorrow’s matchup in Buffalo, should be able to make the playoffs. Our pick, is the Buffalo Sabres, as they have been on a hot streak since February, and have the players to go on an extended run. The Capitals in our opinion are emotionally drained, and may be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.