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Sunday NHL Betting Odds & Picks: Flyers vs. Sabres, Islanders vs. Rangers & Capitals vs. Bruins (April 11)

Sunday NHL Betting Odds & Picks: Flyers vs. Sabres, Islanders vs. Rangers & Capitals vs. Bruins (April 11) article feature image

Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Dan Vladar

It’s an unusually busy Sunday across the NHL landscape. There might be “just” seven games, but almost all of them are pretty damn important to the playoff race, most notably in the East Division where all eight teams are in action.

The drama begins at 2 p.m. ET, with the playoff-chasing Philadelphia Flyers taking on the and the last-place Buffalo Sabres.

Sabres vs. Flyers Odds

Sabres Odds +200
Flyers Odds -240
Over/Under 5.5
Time Sunday, 2 p.m. ET
TV NHL Network
Odds as of Sunday morning via DraftKings.

Betting on the lowly Buffalo isn’t the way anybody wants to spend their Sunday afternoon, so I don’t blame anybody for deciding to skip out on this game and watching the Masters. Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of self-control and think the Sabres are worth a bet at this price.

The Flyers have played a better brand of hockey as of late, getting points in four of five games against the Bruins and Islanders. A 2-1-2 record isn’t anything to write home about, but it has been good enough to keep them in the race against the Bruins and Rangers.

The most notable improvement has been in goal, with Carter Hart and Brian Elliott combining for a +1.8 Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAx) over their last five outings.

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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.

Philadelphia’s league-worst goaltending is what torpedoed its hot start, so if Hart (who will play today) and Elliott continue to improve, the Flyers should at least hang around the playoff picture a few more days.

Even though Buffalo has the NHL’s worst statistical portfolio, the Flyers are still a pretty mediocre bunch. Philadelphia ranks 17th in expected-goals rate and 22nd in high-danger scoring chance rate at 5-on-5. The Flyers have improved their xG to 50.4% over their last 10 games, but that number still suggests they aren’t a dominant force at 5-on-5.

Any team can overpower Buffalo, but there should be a slight path to victory for the lowly Sabres so long as Linus Ullmark starts in goal. Remember, at +200 odds you’re only asking Buffalo to win this game one out of every three times.

The Flyers still have life in the playoff race and need these two points, so I wouldn’t be surprised if bettors play Philadelphia (or use the Flyers as a sure-thing in a parlay) in a “must-win” game. That should keep this number pretty high on the Sabres and I would play it at +190 or better.

Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Pavel Buchnevich, Mika Zibanejad

Rangers vs. Islanders Odds

Rangers Odds +108
Islanders Odds -127
Over/Under 5.5
Time Sunday, 7 p.m. ET
Odds as of Sunday morning via DraftKings.

The Rangers skated to a 4-1 win over the Islanders on Friday, continuing a pretty impressive stretch dating back to the end of March when Artemi Panarin returned to the lineup. The Blueshirts are 8-3-1 over their last 12 games and now find themselves five points (with two more games played) behind Boston for the final playoff spot in the East Division.

While the Rangers have been up and down, the Islanders have been a consistent force. The Isles are tied with Washington for first in the East, and rank second in the NHL in xG rate and first in High Danger Scoring chance rate.

There was cause for concern when the Islanders lost captain and consistent goal-scoring threat Anders Lee for the season last month, but they have continued to trudge on without him and played to a 55.8% xG rate over their last 12 games.

While the Rangers are a much dangerous team than the one we saw during the first half of the season, I think these odds hand a little bit too much respect to the Blueshirts. The Rangers have scored 58.3% of the 5-on-5 goals over their last 13 games, but their xGrate sits at 50.5 percent.

With Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich, Chris Kreider, Adam Fox and the rest of the Rangers’ talented core rolling, it’s not surprising the Blueshirts are overachieving compared to their underlying numbers, but we should tread carefully before suggesting they are on level-pegging with the Islanders on neutral ice.

I think the Islanders are worth a bet at -130 odds, but would wait to see how the goaltending matchup shakes out because there’s a chance this number dips even lower if the Isles roll with Ilya Sorokin.

nhl-betting-odds-pick-bruins-capitals-january 30
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: Jeremy Lauzon (left) and Brad Marchand (right).

Bruins vs. Capitals Odds

Capitals Odds -120
Bruins Odds +102
Over/Under 5.5
Time Sunday, 7 p.m. ET
Odds as of Sunday morning via DraftKings.

The Bruins have been limping their way through the last month and a half. Boston has yet to be fully healthy this season and its defensive depth is being tested once again.

The team will be without Norris Trophy candidate Charlie McAvoy, puck-moving defenseman Matt Grzelcyk and stalwart middle-pair defenseman Brandon Carlo. Oh, and the Bruins will also be without their No. 1 and No. 2 goaltenders for this contest.

The good news is that the Bruins are catching the Capitals at a decent time. After running roughshod through March, Washington has gone 3-3 since the start of April. Perhaps more concerning is that the franchise’s 5-on-5 numbers have dipped considerably over its last 13 contests.

After years of posting underwhelming 5-on-5 numbers, the Capitals looked like a force at even strength through the first 30 games of this season. What was most impressive was that the Capitals defensive numbers ranked inside the top 10 across the league.

Washington is always going to find ways to score, so losing the xG battle was never really a bother. However, it was clear this team needed to get better in front of its own goal if it wanted to give it another go before the window shut.

Peter Laviolette’s arrival helped accomplish that, but things have started to come a bit unglued lately, as Washington has skated to a 47.7% xG rate. It’s also allowing 2.62 goals and 2.46 xG per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 in that span. The Caps are still capable of overcoming those numbers thanks to a prolific offense headlined by Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, but they’re obviously a much more vulnerable bunch when the defense stumbles.

The good news is that defense shouldn’t be tested too much by Boston. The Bruins rank 26th in 5-on-5 scoring and 29th in expected goals per 60 minutes. Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak can always wreck a game, but there’s not much going on behind them. And without McAvoy and Grzelcyk, just getting the puck up ice will be a challenge.

The Bruins have hung in admirably, but this line is too short. I like Washington at -125 odds or better in this showdown.

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