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Tuesday’s NHL Betting Odds & Picks: How To Bet Blues vs. Flames and Senators vs. Sabres (Jan. 28, 2020)


Claus Andersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Matthew Tkachuk

There are just two NHL games scheduled for Tuesday night and they are very different contests.

First up is a showdown between two Eastern Conference also-rans, Ottawa and Buffalo. It may not be a ratings bonanza, but the money you win or lose on Senators vs. Sabres will count just as much as the cash you move in the Super Bowl.

A more palatable matchup — or at least one with bigger playoff-picture stakes — between the Blues and Flames finishes up a quiet night on the ice.

Let’s take a look.

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Ottawa Senators vs. Buffalo Sabres

  • Senators odds: +170
  • Sabres odds: -200
  • Over/Under: 6
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET

The Ottawa Senators were a pleasant surprise through the first two months of the NHL season. The Sens weren’t contending by any stretch of the imagination, but their underlying numbers suggested they were better than the doormat everybody expected them to be this season.

Predictably, Ottawa struggled through the second quarter of the season, winning just six of its last 25 games, although eight of those losses came after regulation. The Senators have struggled to control play lately, posting a 46.8% expected goals rate at 5-on-5 over their last 25 games and a 44.7% expected goals rate over their last 11 contests.

The Senators are trending down, but I think the market is a little too high on Buffalo on Tuesday night. After opening at -170 around the betting universe, the Sabres have shot up to -190 or -200 depending on where you bet. Buffalo is certainly a better team than Ottawa, has home-ice advantage and is in a good schedule spot with the Senators on a back-to-back, but I don’t think the odds should be this wide. The Sabres are not all that good.

Buffalo does defend well, allowing just 2.23 expected goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 on the season and 1.97 xGA/60 over its last 10 games, but the Sabres struggle going the other way.

Buffalo creates just 2.02 expected goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 (30th) this season and is averaging just 1.97 xGF/60 in its last 10 games. The Senators struggle defensively, but Buffalo’s offense isn’t one to pick apart a weak defense.

Heatmap via

Quite simply, I think these odds are a bit too wide and the market could be overreacting to Ottawa playing its second game in as many nights. The Senators just came off a long break, so I’m not too worried about fatigue being a real factor on Tuesday night.

The listed odds imply that Buffalo wins this game 64.3% of the time. I get that Ottawa is in poor form, but the Sabres haven’t been much better. I’d be surprised if this number continues to climb and would play the Senators at any number of +160.

St. Louis Blues at Calgary Flames

  • Blues odds: -105
  • Flames odds: -115
  • Over/Under: 5.5
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET

I was skeptical of the St. Louis Blues through the first quarter of the season. The Blues were winning games, but the process looked a bit off. St. Louis wasn’t controlling play or dominating teams with its hallmark defense, but instead winning games thanks to great goaltending and an opportunistic offense.

Things have changed and the Blues look every bit a contender both above and below the surface. St. Louis’ expected goals rate is still a shade below 50% on the season but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Over their last 25 games, the Blues are operating at 53.2% and that number has jumped to 55.9% over their last 11 contests.

The Blues are one of the league’s top five teams, but how wide is the gap between them and another team trending in the right direction, the Calgary Flames?

Calgary sputtered through the first quarter of the season but a lot of its struggles came down to a lack of production from its best players like Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk and Mark Giordano. Slumps are part of hockey, but to have basically all of your best players struggle at the same time is out of the ordinary.

The Flames have begun to claw their way out of their early-season malaise under new head coach Geoff Ward. Calgary is 14-7-1 with a 51.2% expected goal share with Ward behind the bench.

At 5-on-5, there isn’t all that much that separates these two teams and I think that there’s some value on Calgary as slight home favorites. I wouldn’t go much further than -115, but I still think the Flames are being undervalued considering the direction they are trending under Ward.

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