Devils vs. Sabres NHL Odds & Pick: New Jersey Won’t Lose Two Straight to Buffalo (April 8)
Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Jack Hughes of New Jersey.
- No team has come close to being as bad as Buffalo has been this season.
- Despite that, the Sabres defeated New Jersey 5-3 on Tuesday even though New Jersey had better metrics.
- Michael Ianniello explains why the Devils will bounce back on Thursday.
Devils vs. Sabres Odds
|Time||Thursday, 7 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Wednesday and via UnibetNJ|
The New Jersey Devils have dropped four games in a row, including a 5-3 loss to the Sabres on Tuesday,
Buffalo has surprisingly won three of its last four after tying an NHL record with 18 straight losses from Feb. 25 – March 29.
With the looming NHL trade deadline, the Sabres are expected to continue to scratch pending UFA and former MVP Taylor Hall as they look for a trade partner, in addition to Jack Eichel still being out with an injury.
New Jersey Devils
New Jersey got off to a decent start to the season, starting 6-3-2 through its first 11 games. After that, things fell apart for the Devils, and they lost 12 of their next 14 games.
Jack Hughes has had an up-and-down sophomore season in red and black, but the 2019 first overall selection has played much better than his numbers indicate. In his last 10 games, Hughes has generated 11 High-Danger Scoring Chances and has a 3.14 xG, despite having zero goals and just one secondary assist to show for it. I expect Hughes to get rewarded for his play soon.
New Jersey’s top line of Hughes, Janne Koukkanen and Yegor Sharangovich skated to a 76.9 xGF% against the Sabres on Tuesday but were unable to cash in on their solid play.
The best part of Tuesday’s game was Devils’ forward Tyce Thompson making his NHL debut and picking up his first NHL point with an assist. He did so against his older brother Tage, who plays for the Sabres. Their dad is former NHL defenseman and current Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) head coach, Brent Thompson.
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.
The Devils have certainly struggled this year, especially recently (3-5-2 in last 10), but Buffalo is a different type of bad. The Sabres’ 24 points are the lowest in the NHL, six less than the next closest team. They are 30th in the NHL in goals per game and 29th in goals allowed per game. New Jersey has a 49.46 GF% at 5-on-5 this year compared to a 45.25% for Buffalo.
The Sabres fired coach Ralph Krueger on March 17 after just 97 games with the team, and assistant Don Granato took over as interim head coach. Buffalo has already traded center Eric Staal (to Montreal), and more players are expected to be shipped out prior to Monday’s trade deadline.
Betting Analysis & Pick
In a battle of the two basement dwellers of the East Division on Tuesday night, these two teams combined for exactly zero High-Danger Scoring Chances. Despite losing by two goals, the Devils outshot the Sabres 30-18 and had an xG advantage of 2.57-1.45 at 5-on-5.
A line shouldn’t move too much based on one game, especially when the shots on goal and xG differential is tilted in the opposite direction of the outcome.
The Devil opened at -159 against the Sabres just two days ago and are now sitting at -118 at the time of this writing so we are getting New Jersey at a discounted price here. I would take the Devils up to -135.