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Oh what a difference a new owner makes. Immediately after Terry Pegula was officially announced the new owner of the Buffalo Sabres, all of the March Madness betting in Buffalo stopped because the Sabres went on a 5-0-2 streak. The Sabres made one 2011 NHL trade deadline move by bringing in Brad Boyes, and that seems to be exactly what the Sabres needed to start moving up in the NHL standings. The Sabres now find themselves in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and only two points away from the seventh place New York Rangers.

The entire league expected the Pittsburgh Penguins to fold up camp and call it a season when the team lost Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for the entire season. But the Penguins have hung in there despite some extremely poor goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury and find themselves trailing the first place Philadelphia Flyers by two points. That is first place in the Atlantic Division and first place in the Eastern Conference. Not bad for a team that was supposed to give up weeks ago.

Buffalo Sabres

In their last seven games, since billionaire Terry Pegula took over the team, the Sabres are 5-0-2 and are riding a two-game winning streak. The Sabres seem to prefer the road as the road record is 18-10-3 while the home record is 14-15-3. The Sabres will have to work on winning in the friendly confines if HSBC Arena if they want to win in the playoffs, but for now they can continue to work that road mojo when they roll into Pittsburgh. This is the third game of a seven-game road trip for the Sabres, and they seem to be rotating starting goaltenders. Ryan Miller played the opening three games for the team, and then suddenly disappeared. Goaltender Jonas Enroth was brought up to start the last game for the Sabres while back-up Patrick Lalime rode the bench. It will be interesting to see what the Sabres do about their goaltending situation when the season is over.

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins are 3-3-4 in their last 10 games, and their last start was a 3-2 overtime win over the Boston Bruins in Boston. The Penguins play a hard-hitting style of game and with Crosby and Malkin out, Pittsburgh has leaned even more on the physical play. The small stature of the Sabres and Buffalo’s less-than-aggressive defense could be something that the Penguins will exploit all game long. Pittsburgh is one of the few teams with 20 wins at home, and they play extremely tough at Mellon Arena.

The Bottom Line

This game rests completely on the shoulders of the Penguins’ goaltending. If the Pittsburgh goaltending is solid, then the Penguins’ physical style of play will neutralize the Sabres and put the game away. If the Penguins’ goaltending is shaky, then more than a couple of the Sabres very limited amount of shots on goal in this game will find their way into the net.

BSNblog Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins

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