Two Northeast Division rivals clash as the Buffalo Sabres visit the Boston Bruins on Thursday night. The NHL odds makers have set the Bruins out in front as -170 favorites.

The Boston Bruins have lost two straight and have been in the national spotlight after Zdeno Chara nearly paralyzed Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty – literally. They’ll try to bounce back against the Buffalo Sabres, who are in dire need of some points of their own.

The Buffalo Sabres Can Win Because…:

The Bruins are struggling and you have to look a little deeper than just wins and losses to see it.

Yes, they still have won seven of their last nine games but their power play, which was supposed to improve with the arrive of Tomas Kaberle, has failed to score in the team’s last seven games (0-for-16). Overall, the Bruins have scored just six goals in their last four games and haven’t scored more than three goals in any of their last seven games.

If scoring is a problem, a visit from Sabres goaltender is definitely not the solution. For his career, Miller is 19-5-7 against the Bruins with a respectable GAA of 2.61.

When it comes to urgency and need, the Sabres definitely have more motivation in their corner. They are tied for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and are fighting for their lives whereas the Bruins are in better shape up in third place. It’s not do-or-die for them but for the Sabres, every single point is critical.

While most teams don’t envy the chance to see Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, who is the NHL’s leader in GAA, the Sabres don’t mind as much. Thomas is just 8-9-2 in his career against them with a GAA of 3.14. That’s a stark contrast to his 1.97 GAA this season.

Buffalo SabresThe Boston Bruins Can Win Because…:

They are coming off of a pair of embarrassing outings and they are ready to bounce back.

The Bruins were outhustled by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday when they fell 3-2 in overtime and then on Tuesday, their 4-1 loss was mired by Zdeno Chara’s potentially crippling hit on Montreal Canadiens (who face the St Louis Blues tonight) forward Max Pacioretty. Sometimes the word ‘crippling’ is used in regards to big body checks but unfortunately in this case, Pacioretty was actually taken off the ice on a stretcher and suffered fractured vertebrae.

On Thursday, they’ll be facing a finesse team that they have dominated at home recently and they should get back on track.

Boston has won eight of the last 11 home meetings with Buffalo and they’ll be far fresher for this contest.

Buffalo is in the midst of a seven-game road trip and Thursday’s matchup will be their fourth game in sixth nights – all on the road. After winning five of seven, the Pens took the wind out of their sales with a 3-1 win on Tuesday.

Tim Thomas should be in net for the Bruins on Thursday and he should be well-rested. He got the night off on Tuesday and hasn’t played since Saturday. That might help him improve upon his previous performances against Buffalo.

Outlook & NHL Betting Prediction:

This is an odd game to handicap. Logic says that the Sabres might be worn down, that the Bruins dominate this series at home and that they will be fired up to put the focus back on the team and put Chara’s hit behind them.

But the Sabres have Thomas’ number, winning four of the last five meetings against him, and Miller is 3-0-1 versus the Bruins this season.

The Sabres need this game and with some value on the line, they are worth a flier play.

Pick: Sabres