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The Sabres honored the passing of former French Connection member and hockey legend Rick Martin with a win over the Ottawa Senators. But the win was more than an homage to a great player, it was extremely necessary for the Sabres to maintain their playoff status. As the March Madness betting begins, the Sabres sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. A loss in the first game of last weekend to the Toronto Maple Leafs threatened to derail the Sabres’ playoff hopes. But a strong sportsbook promo performance against the Senators helped to keep the Sabres locked into seventh place.

The Carolina Hurricanes keep dropping further and further in the NHL standings as the days go by. Right now, the Hurricanes are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference and four points behind the eighth place New York Rangers. But the Toronto Maple Leafs, Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils are charging hard. The Hurricanes have been stumbling in the last couple of weeks, and they need to start picking up the pace if they want to stay in the playoff hunt.

Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres are fighting more to keep seventh place in the conference than they are to catch the Montreal Canadiens and take over sixth place. The Sabres have 13 games left in the regular season, but they trail the Canadiens by seven points in the standings. The Canadiens are playing well and not giving the Sabres many chances to make up ground.

The Sabres are fending off the New York Rangers for that seventh spot. The Sabres and Rangers both have 76 points, but the Sabres have one more regulation win and that put them in seventh. In the last 10 games the Sabres are 6-2-2 with losses to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins clouding an otherwise impressive run. The team has responded to new owner Terry Pegula, and they hope to maintain their momentum going into the playoffs.

Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes have a lot of problems. The team is 3-5-2 in the last 10 games, and that includes a 2-game losing streak. The teams that the Hurricanes are tangled with in the standings are all winning. The Hurricanes need to start putting some wins together or they will quickly find themselves looking up at the Devils, Thrashers, Leafs and Rangers.

The Hurricanes’ main problem is their defensive inability to clear the zone. The Carolina defense will often leave goaltender Cam Ward on his own in the defensive zone, and that has resulted in the Hurricanes giving up a lot of goals. A relaxed defensive approach in this game against the high-flying Sabres would be a huge mistake.

The Bottom Line

The Hurricanes lack the leadership and defensive toughness necessary to stand toe-to-toe against the Sabres. The Sabres are riding a wave of emotion and momentum so high that it is hard to say what team will be able to bring them down.

Gambling Advisor blog Pick: Buffalo Sabres

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