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NHL Betting Odds & Picks for Sabres vs. Islanders: Betting Value on Tuesday’s Over/Under (Feb. 2)

NHL Betting Odds & Picks for Sabres vs. Islanders: Betting Value on Tuesday’s Over/Under (Feb. 2) article feature image

Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images. Pictured: Ilya Sorokin.

  • The New York Islanders host the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday evening in a battle of East Division teams.
  • The Sabres are coming off their worst performance of the season, while the Islanders have struggled to get things going all season.
  • In a matchup of stout defenses, scoring may be a minimal at Nassau Coliseum.

Sabres vs. Islanders Odds

Sabres Odds -129
Islanders Odds +112
Over/Under 5.5
Time 6 p.m. ET
Odds as of Monday afternoon and via DraftKings

The New York Islanders return home to the Nassau Coliseum after an 0-3-2 road trip has put the team’s season in early peril. The Islanders made it all the way to the Eastern Conference finals last season, but that success has not carried over to this season.

Despite their struggles, the Islanders are favorites over the visiting Buffalo Sabres. Is there reason to believe the Islanders can turn their season around?

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Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo enters this game with a 4-4-2 record, which matches up well with their preseason outlook. Many expected the Sabres to be improved but unable to hang with with the beasts in the East Division. 

The Sabres’ record lines up well with their underlying metrics. They rank 14th in expected goals rate, 18th in expected goals scored per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 and 11th in expected goals against. This is a middling team both according to their record as well as their analytical profile. 

Buffalo enters Tuesday’s matchup coming off one of its worst performances of the season. Through the first 11 games of the season, the Sabres’ defense was performing at an extremely high level. They had not allowed a single one of their opponents to post an expected goal total north of two goals. The Devils changed that on Sunday, posting an astronomical expected goal total of 3.64 in a 5-3 win.

Given the defensive performance so far this season, that type of output can be written off as an anomaly. The Sabres’ top pairing of Jake McCabe and Rasmus Ristolainen has been otherwise tremendous. They have posted an expected-goal rate near 58% and they’re giving up only 1.62 expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. Ramus Dahlin and Brandon Montour make up a solid second pairing for the Sabres, too.

Offensively, the team is led by Jack Eichel. However, Eichel and his line mates will have a tough task in Tuesday’s game as the Islanders are likely to deploy Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock against the unit. In addition, normal line mate Sam Reinhart is day-to-day with an injury and may not be available for Buffalo. 

New York Islanders

Under Barry Trotz, the story of the New York Islanders has been similar for the past two-plus years. They will be strong defensively, and they’ll receive good goaltending. The question is whether they can score enough for it to matter. 

The beginning of this season has been no different. The Islanders rank in the top-10 in expected-goals against. Their top pairing of Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech ranks in the top-10 of all qualifying NHL defensive pairings in terms of expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. 

Semyon Varlamov has cooled down after his insane start between the pipes for the Isles, but he’s still posting a +2.78 in terms of goals saved above average. 

Offensively, New York was never an explosive offense, but the loss of Anthony Beauvillier to injury has created a domino effect through the lineup. 

Beauvillier’s usual line mates are Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson. On the season, those two have combined for one even-strength goal and three even-strength points. While Mat Barzal has done his part by producing more than a point-per-game, the Islanders absolutely need the second line to contribute more than what they have.

In addition to the struggling second line, New York has been rotating a collection of replacement-level talent on a third line that has been nothing short of a black hole from a production standpoint. Jean-Gabriel Pageau has had the unfortunate task of trying to extract production from a group that includes Ross Johnston, Leo Komarov, Austin Czarnik, Michael Dal Colle and Dmytro Timashov. Rookies Kieffer Bellows and Oliver Wahlstrom have also gotten chances without much success.  

Sabres vs. Islanders Best Bet

The Islanders come into this game as decently sized favorites. It seems like oddsmakers are still pricing the Islanders as the team that made it to the conference final last season, but at this point it’s fairly obvious that magic has not transferred over to begin this season. 

There’s some value in betting the Sabres, but two factors will keep me from betting on them. The Islanders have lost five straight games and their desperation levels should be off the chart to try and salvage a season that had a lot of expectations. In addition, due to a huge snowstorm, Buffalo’s flight on Monday was canceled. Instead, the team will be traveling on the morning of the game which seems suboptimal, especially for a game that starts an hour earlier than normal. 

My favorite way to attack this game is with the total. The Sabres have done a great job limiting their opponents’ chances in every game this season except the last one. Eichel should be kept at bay by the Islanders’ duo of Pelech and Pulock. 

The Isles are changing their lineup and roster every game trying to find a combination that works. Beauvillier’s absence has created a ripple effect through the team’s middle six and they have not yet recovered.

Pick: Under 5.5 Goals (-130)

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