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2010/11 Buffalo Sabres Predictions – Odds – Season Preview

Buffalo Sabres 2010/2011 Season Preview

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The NHL season starts in roughly a month. That means it’s time to start prepping for the betting season. Let’s look at each team one by one in alphabetical order.

Stanley Cup odds: +2600

2010-11 NHL Predictions/Previews: Buffalo Sabres

In the post-lockout era, the Buffalo Sabres were one of hockey’s fastest, most explosive teams. Then, after they lost some big scorers to free agency, they took a step back in 2009, missing the playoffs. Last season, however, the Sabres bounced back. Thanks to goaltender Ryan Miller and stellar rookie defenseman Tyler Myers, they reinvented themselves as a defense-first team. Can the Sabres build on last season’s return to the playoffs?

The Sabres regressed offensively last season but their personnel should give them at least a chance to improve this year. Thomas Vanek usually hovers around 40 goals but slipped to 28 last year. The former first-rounder’s pedigree suggests that last season was the exception, not the norm.

Derek Roy is a solid playmaking center and Jason Pominville is a consistent B-plus scorer.

The wild cards up front are Tim Connolly and Tyler Ennis. Connolly has fantastic hands and scores whenever he plays but last year’s relatively healthy season was unheard of for him. Can he avoid a lengthy I.R. stay for a second straight year? I wouldn’t bet on it.

The Sabres think they have something special in Tyler Ennis, who tallied nine points in his 10-game cup of coffee last year.

He’s tiny as can be but has natural offensive flair, so he’s a Rookie of the Year candidate.

Still, the Sabres really lack size and grit up front. Scoring should once again take a backseat to the man: Ryan Miller. There wasn’t a better goaltender on Earth last year than Miller, who has that rare ability to win games on his own. Last year’s Vezina-winning campaign wasn’t a fluke. Miller is the best goaltender in the game right now.

It helps that he has a pillar protecting him in reigning Rookie of the Year Tyler Myers. The 6’8” defender should be a rock on Buffalo’s blue line for years to come. He doesn’t have great support around him – the Sabres should miss Toni Lydman and Henrik Tallinder – but he’s good enough on his own to shoulder much of the load.

Zdeno Chara does the same thing in Boston.

The Sabres were pretty quietly a 100-point team last season and won the Northeast Division title. I expect a slight regression in 2010-11, not because the Sabres are worse, but because they didn’t improve this offseason. They may score a bit more but they may also allow more goals after losing some key defenseman.

Other competitors around them, like Boston, got better.

The Sabres should return to the playoffs – but as a low seed.

2010 Preseason Schedule

Saturday, September 25 vs Toronto Maple Leafs 7 p.m. HSBC Arena
Monday, September 27 @ Toronto Maple Leafs 7 p.m. Air Canada Centre
Tuesday, September 28 @ Ottawa Senators TBD Dundas, Ontario
Thursday, September 30 @ Montreal Canadiens 7:30 p.m. Bell Centre
Friday, October 1 @ Philadelphia Flyers 7 p.m. Wachovia Center
Sunday, October 3 vs Philadelphia Flyers 6 p.m. HSBC Arena

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