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Reply To: NHL Previews, Articles, Info. Thursday 10/8/15

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Coach Fletcher’s Thursday NHL Free Pick

Ottawa Senators at Buffalo Sabres

The Pick Ottawa Senators – 120

Fast Start On the Minds of Senators

The Senators got out of the gate poorly last season and had to finish 23-4-4 just to make the playoffs. You can bet that the Senators won’t let that happen again this year. I’m looking for Ottawa to start with a bang this year.

Ottawa took =3 of 4 contests against the Sabres last season. Bobby Ryan led all scorers with 4 goals and teammate Mark Stone had 5 points. Goaltender Andrew Hammond had 24 saves against the Sabres on March 6. Hammond was also only the second goalkeeper in the last 76 years to allow 2 or fewer goals in his first 8 NHL starts.

The Senators have no intention of having to wait until the last day of the 2015 season to qualify for the Cup. Forward Mike Hoffman came out and said it, “This start is going to be big for us.”

A few injury issues have popped up. Forward Clarke MacArthur is questionable due to a concussion suffered last Saturday. My guess is that he will play since forward Matt Puempel was assigned to the American Hockey league. Craig Anderson will have to man the goal due to an injury to Hammond.

Sabre captain Brian Gionta may be out for the Sabres. He is day to day with a lower body injury sustained in Tuesday’s practice. Defenseman Josh Gorges is questionable but skated Wednesday and should be good to go. Robin Lehner will be in the goal for Buffalo and the Senators know him well. Lehner was formerly a Senator. Buffalo will also debut a new coach, Dan Bylsma who had a very successful run with the Penguins.

Ottawa was 45-43 last season. They went 21-23 on the road but outscored their opponents by an average of 2.5 to 2.4. They went 19-17 in division also outscoring their opponents in division and in overall play.

Buffalo was not a good team last year. They were 23-59. They were outscored in all their games 3.3 to 2.0 and at home 2.9-2.0. The Sabres were 14-27 at home. They were 10-20 in division and were outscored by a goal in division play.

Over the last 3 seasons Ottawa has gone 6-2 against the Sabres. They have gone 2-2 in Buffalo. There is a fairly sound lean to the under in here as well. Since 1996 68 of 112 games have gone under. 6 of 8 games in the last 3 seasons have gone under. 29 of 54 games played at Buffalo have gone under since 1996 and 3 of 4 games played in Buffalo have gone under in the last 3 years. Buffalo beat the Senators in their first contest last year 5-4. The Senators swept the last 3 games 5-2, 2-1 and 3-2.

The Pick Ottawa Senators -120