Sabres vs. Devils NHL Odds & Pick: Ride Janne Kuokkanen’s Hot Streak (March 16)

Sabres vs. Devils NHL Odds & Pick: Ride Janne Kuokkanen’s Hot Streak (March 16) article feature image

Elsa/Getty Images. Pictured: Janne Kuokkanen

  • The Devils are struggling this season but have a great opportunity to get a win on Tuesday against the Sabres.
  • The brightest spot for New Jersey of late has been the play of Janne Kuokkanen, who has thrived in March.
  • Michael Leboff breaks down how he is looking to bet on the Devils at home.

Sabres vs. Devils Odds

Sabres Odds+128
Devils Odds-155
TimeTuesday, 6 p.m. ET
Odds as of Monday and via UnibetNJ

The East Division was always going to be a gauntlet. Six of the eight teams in the set were projected to contend for a playoff spot and both longshots, the Devils and Sabres, had people thinking twice before counting them out.

As we enter the stretch run of the season, it's now clear what the East Division race will look like. But one of the great things about betting on the NHL is that every team is important, no matter the time of year.

So while most casual fans may look past a matchup between the Devils and last-place Sabres, bettors can try to find an edge in a game that may not drive a big handle.

How They Matchup

Things haven't been pretty for either of these teams since they returned from their two-week hiatuses a month ago. The Devils have been better than Buffalo but have still sputtered to a 4-10-2 record over their last 16 games. The underlying metrics haven't been pretty, either, as the Devs have posted a 46.45% expected goals rate and -1.04 goal differential per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 in that span.

Strength of schedule certainly had something to do with New Jersey's downturn as the Devils have played 10 games against the Bruins, Capitals and Islanders since returning to play. That's life in the East Division, but a visit from the Sabres will give the Devils a terrific chance to get back on track.

All losing streaks must end at some point but you can't help but wonder if Sabres fans are doubtful that they'll ever win again. Mired in an 11-game winning streak and traveling to Newark after a 6-0 home loss to the Caps, Buffalo has some serious questions to answer as it plans for the future.

Bettors should do their best to ignore as much of the peripheral noise around a team as possible, but it's hard to turn a blind eye to what's going on in Western New York right now.

Sometimes teams going through tough times can point to a silver lining. Maybe they've been unlucky shooting the puck or maybe their goaltending should regress, but it's been a complete capitulation for Buffalo. The Sabres have the worst record in the NHL, they are dead-last in 5-on-5 goal differential and their 43.74% expected goals rate over the last month is the third-worst mark in the league. Oftentimes teams that are struggling offer some buy-low value, but it takes a brave soul to back Buffalo right now.

Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.

Sabres vs. Devils Betting Pick

It is really hard to justify a bet on the Buffalo Sabres at the moment, but laying -155 juice with the Devils is equally tough to swallow. Those odds imply New Jersey wins this game 60.8% of the time. And while I acknowledge that the Sabres are at rock bottom, the Devils haven't shown me enough to warrant a play at these odds either. Everything in betting comes down to price and at this moment the price on Buffalo is closer to providing value than the number on Jersey. In fact, if this number continues to rise above +140 I would have no choice but to hop in on Buffalo.

That said, if you're looking for action on the Devils I think there is a fun prop with some high upside out there.

With goals in four straight games, Janne Kuokkanen is quickly becoming a bright spot for the Devils. I know the bubble will eventually burst on Kuokkanen's current streak — he has only taken six shots during his recent run — but he's being offered at +2400 ($10 bet wins $240) to score the game's first goal at Unibet. It's not a bet that you should expect to win, but why not take a chance on Kuokkanen to stay hot.

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