NHL Odds, Preview, Expert Prediction: Jets vs. Sabres (January 12)
Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Rasmus Dahlin #26 of the Buffalo Sabres
- The Sabres host the Jets on Thursday night.
- The Jets are looking to get back on track after their five-game winning streak came to a halt in their last game. Meanwhile, Buffalo is looking to finish its homestand with a win.
- Carol Schram breaks down the matchup and offers up her best bet below.
Jets vs. Sabres Odds
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The Winnipeg Jets and Buffalo Sabres both look to get back into the win column when they square off on Thursday at KeyBank Center in New York.
The Jets saw their five-game winning streak snapped when they dropped a 7-5 decision to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday as they opened a three-game road trip. At the other end of the ice, the Sabres will be closing out a four-game homestand that saw them take down the Minnesota Wild in overtime before losing to Philadephia and Seattle.
Here’s the latest on the Jets and the Sabres, and your best bet for Thursday’s game.
Winnipeg Jets Getting Back to Full Strength
The Jets are one of the big success stories of the 2022-23 NHL season. Coach Rick Bowness has quickly rebuilt the team’s culture, and Winnipeg is now challenging Dallas for top spot in the Central Division.
At 5-on-5, Winnipeg is just so-so, controlling 49.85% of expected goals. Their biggest strength is on the defensive side of the puck, where they sit fifth in goals against per game (2.68) and sixth on the penalty kill (82.5%), heading into Wednesday’s games.
Of course, those numbers are boosted by star netminder Connor Hellebuyck. Even after getting lit up for six goals against the Red Wings on Tuesday, he still boasts an impressive .924 save percentage and 15.1 goals saved above expected for the year.
But the Jets are opening a back-to-back set on Thursday; they’ll also play Friday in Pittsburgh. Don’t be surprised if Bowness saves Hellebuyck for the Penguins and turns to David Rittich in Buffalo. The 30-year-old backup is 6-4-0 this season, with a decent .905 save percentage but minus-0.8 goals saved above expected.
Offensively, the Jets have some serious weapons. Mark Scheifele leads the team with 24 goals, while Kyle Connor, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Josh Morrissey are all producing at better than a point-per-game. They sit 10th with 3.34 goals per game, and their 23.8% power play ranks 12th.
After a tough run of injury luck, Winnipeg is also getting healthier. Nikolaj Ehlers, Blake Wheeler and Nate Schmidt have all recently returned to the lineup.
Buffalo Sabres Have Depth Beyond Tage Thompson
Another pleasant surprise this season, the Buffalo Sabres had won eight of their nine games, dating back to mid-December, before their current two-game losing skid.
Buffalo sits just below Winnipeg in expected goals share at 5-on-5, at 49.21%. But the Sabres remain the NHL’s highest-scoring team, averaging 3.87 goals per game and boasting the second-best power play (28.7%). Of course, Tage Thompson draws the headlines, with his 31 goals and 57 points in 39 games. But four of his teammates are also producing at a point-per-game or better and with 46 points, Rasmus Dahlin is tied with Winnipeg’s Morrissey for the second-most points by a defenseman so far this season.
On the back end, the news is not as good. The Sabres give up 3.46 goals per game and are 28th on the penalty kill, at 72.4%. And with Eric Comrie now healthy, they’re juggling a three-headed beast in net.
Of late, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen had taken on the lion’s share of the work. He started nine of 13 games between Dec. 4 and Jan. 7 — and won eight of them. Then, Craig Anderson took the loss against Philadelphia on Monday night, and Comrie was in net for Tuesday’s loss to Seattle — his first game action since suffering a lower-body injury in mid-November. Luukkonen is waiver exempt and was assigned to AHL Rochester on Monday, but he was expected to start against the Kraken until he came down with an illness, pushing Comrie into action.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there’s no word yet on which goalie will get the nod against the Jets.
One other lineup note, from the back end: Henri Jokiharju returned to action on Tuesday following a lower-body injury, so depth defenseman Casey Fitzgerald was placed on waivers. Florida claimed him on Wednesday.
Jets vs. Sabres Pick
Neither team practiced on Wednesday, so we won’t get any clarity on the goaltending situations until Thursday’s morning skate, at the earliest.
For this game, it could be worthwhile to hold off on placing a wager until it’s clear what both sides have planned in net. If Luukkonen is feeling better and draws in, that gives Buffalo an edge, especially if the Jets start Rittich. DraftKings has a tempting moneyline of +115 for the Sabres as of Wednesday afternoon.
If you want to jump in earlier, consider the over, where DraftKings is also offering the best odds. With both teams coming off losses, there should be plenty of goals at both ends of the ice on Thursday.
Pick: Over 6.5 (-120); play down to -130