Buffalo Sabres @ Carolina Hurricanes – Thursday January 24, 2013 7:00PM EST
The betting public barely has time to meet all of the NHL teams before a breakneck training camp ends and the regular season starts. The abbreviated 48-game schedule will feature intra-conference games only, which will make the Stanley Cup finals extremely interesting. But, for now, the players have to adjust to the pace at which the season will start and then proceed. While many of these players have been through a lockout before, few have played an abbreviated season. As the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes prepare to do battle, not even the players know what to expect.
It almost seemed as though the players and owners were in a back room playing poker instead of negotiating at times. When the deal was finally done, everything moved at a blinding pace. There is not preseason, there is only training camp. There is no time to evaluate rookies and narrow down the roster. Each coach will have to go with what he knows and make changes along the way. The players will suffer, but the fans will love it. It is the kind of season that creates unexpected heroes, and turns past failures into champions.
The Hurricanes were a huge disappointment last season and much of it had to do with the play of goaltender Cam Ward. The sports betting experts noticed that, when Ward started to pick up his game, the Hurricanes started to win. But it was too little too late and the Hurricanes finished near the bottom of the Eastern Conference and out of the playoffs. The Hurricanes added some toughness and scoring up front with the signing of Alexander Semin from the Washington Capitals. Fans will get the chance to see if the addition of Semin, and a quick start from Ward, will be enough to propel the Hurricanes to success.
There seems to be a lot of interest in the acquisition of Steve Ott by the Buffalo Sabres. The sportsbook experts wondered how Buffalo would put more size at center after the loss of Paul Gaustad and Ott is the answer. Ott has a mean streak in him that should inspire the Sabres and intimidate the competition. But every hockey fan knows that the Buffalo Sabres is only as good as goaltender Ryan Miller allows it to be. If Miller gets off to a good start, then the team will follow. If Miller struggles, then it could be another long year in Buffalo.
The Bottom Line
No one really knows what to expect from the NHL teams as the whirlwind 2013 season gets underway. The first couple of weeks of the season will be inconsistent as some of the players knock off the rust from not playing during the lockout. The Sabres had more players on other teams during the lockout that Carolina did. That is about the only advantage Buffalo will have.
Click here for more on the NHL lockout and how it ended.
Pick: Buffalo Sabres