If you watch the NHL on a regular basis, you know that things often run in patterns. And you have read some of our stuff, you know that one of our pet projects in this NHL season has been writing a little about the Buffalo Sabres, who have experienced a streak more unpleasant than anything they've known before.
The Sabres recently went 18 games without winning, which, in today's NHL, means that they lost all of those games - 15 in regulation and three in extra time (overtime or shootout). That got their coach fired, and well, the roof pretty much caved in every which way.
But we have also been entertaining the possibility that Buffalo may be coming out of its lull, and perhaps the time for them to provide some value for us at America's Bookie is Saturday night at their own KeyBank Center against the New York Rangers.
The Sabres have averaged just 2.14 goals per game and given up 3.44, which means while they haven't quite allowed a goal and a half more than they've scored, they still have a minus-47 goal differential.
Meanwhile, the Rangers were second in the league in goals per game during the month of March (3.88). They've played progressively better, but they still have some work to do to get into playoff position.
The East Division is pretty wild right now. Washington, Pittsburgh and the Islanders are all tied with 50 points, and Boston has 41. The Rangers are tied with Philadelphia at 38 points, but it must be noted that the Bruins have three games in hand on the Rangers, who defeated Buffalo 3-2 on Thursday night.
But as far as the losing streak is concerned, the Sabres' nightmare came to an end on Wednesday with a resounding 6-1 victory over Philadelphia. In that game, Brandon Montour had two short-handed goals 37 seconds apart - the fastest back-to-back short-handed goals ever for a defenseman.
After taking that burden off their shoulders, the Sabres could have had a letdown (as silly as that may sound), but they played very hard against the Rangers the next night. Dustin Tokarski, who hasn't won a game in the NHL since 2015, made 44 saves and took the game into overtime, when Mike Zibanejad beat him for the winner.
Over the last couple of weeks, Zibanejad has nine goals and seven assists to lead the NHL, but what's more notable here, for our purposes, is that Buffalo fought till the end of regulation, as Tage Thompson scored with just 3.6 seconds left.
Handicappers should know that the Sabres are hardly the worst team in NHL history; they aren't nearly as bad as the 1974-75 Washington Capitals, who went 8-67-5, or the 1972-73 New York Islanders (12-60-6).
And there are a number of factors that contributed to the losing streak that might actually be in the process of being remedied. Seriously.
We certainly acknowledge that Tokarski did a great job on Thursday night. But #1 goalie Linus Ullmark had to sit out a lot of games, and only recently came back from his lower-body injury.
Ullmark's goals-against is a more-than-respectable 2.49 and his record is 6-5-3, which is considerably better than his team as a whole. You understand where we're going with this? Outside of Ullmark, the rest of the Buffalo goaltenders have lost 21 of 22 games.
So at least it can be argued that they are somewhat different as a team when he is in goal.
And you like to see a team that has had a horrible season and still plays hard, instead of doing a lot of bitching and moaning. Things may be starting to move in the right direction for the Sabres - at least enough to rate a nod in this return tilt with a rested Ullmark.
Charles Jay is unlike most analysts associated with
handicapping and the gaming industry, in that he also has had extensive
experience in the so-called "mainstream" media as well.
He has been involved with professional sports industry for
almost two decades, working in all capacities, as a matchmaker, booking agent,
manager, and also as an editorial consultant on USA Network's "Tuesday Night
Fights," which, for a time, carried "Charles Jay's Line" on
upcoming fights. As a broadcaster, he has called world title fights around the
world for various outlets, and has served as a color commentator for Sunshine
Network and Prime Network.
His radio experience includes being the host of numerous
programs, including "Sportswatch with Charles Jay" on KDWN in Las
Vegas, "Total Action" on WAXY 790 in Miami, and "Charles Jay's
Winning Edge", syndicated into 55 markets by the American Radio Networks,
and he's done podcasts on all subjects related to sports, gaming and popular
Working within the casino industry, he has a special events
consultant for Casino Magic in Mississippi, as that venue established itself in
the early 1990s as a hotbed of boxing activity in particular. Prior to this, he
had been engaged as a casino gaming columnist for, among others, Casino Player,
Card Player and Sports Form (now known as Gaming Today), specializing in
blackjack. And later on, his investigative series on boxing, entitled
"Operation Cleanup," won him much critical acclaim, including the
2003 "Dignity" Award, in the category of "Best Sports
Writer," as bestowed by the Retired Boxers Foundation, a non-profit
organization dedicated to rendering assistance to ex-fighters in need.
In 2006 he established a content services division of his
company, which has eventually evolved in JayWords, and he is arguably the
world's most prolific sports & gaming writer, with over 20,000 articles to
his credit, the vast majority of which have been sports handicapping pieces. So
you might say he has analyzed as many sporting events as anyone alive during
this period. He has also brought some interest with his so-called
"gimmick" odds on special events, including the Academy Awards, the
NFL Draft, and the Super Bowl, for which he posted dozens and dozens of
different odds propositions with various sportsbooks.
This renaissance man is a winner of the Retired Boxers Foundation's "Dignity Award" and a member of the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame; graduate of the University of
Miami (Florida) who currently resides in the South Florida area.