NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Capitals vs. Sabres (March 25)
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images. Pictured: Nicklas Backstrom.
Capitals vs. Sabres Odds
|Over/Under||6 (-115 / -105)|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Buffalo currently sits 26th in the NHL standings this season, but you would never know it watching the club’s recent outings. The Sabres enter this one looking to build on a 5-1-0 stretch.
The Capitals, meanwhile, surged to begin March but have delivered back-to-back notably sloppy performances, which has them on a two-game skid entering this game.
Considering their recent form, are the Caps worthy of being a massive road favorite here?
Can Washington Regain Its Form?
Following a poor showing at home against the Stars, Washington put together one of the worst performances of its season on Tuesday against St. Louis.
The turnaround seen during March from Washington prior to those outings was in part due to the club finally playing at full health, but three important bodies fell back out of the lineup in Friday’s win at Carolina.
Nick Dowd is the Capitals’ clearcut best defensive forward. He’s a difference-maker on the penalty kill and is often being matched against the opposition’s top offensive lines. Without him the Capitals’ checking line has been in shambles, and it’s clear he is the driving force behind that unit’s usually effective play.
Trevor van Riemsdyk’s absence in defense has Michael Kempny drawing back into the lineup. Kempny has struggled notably this season and simply is not the player he was before suffering multiple injuries.
T.J. Oshie is out of the lineup due to yet another injury. He’s a big loss to a second line with Anthony Mantha and Nicklas Backstrom that was starting to find success, as was the Capitals’ power-play unit.
With middle-six centers Backstrom and Lars Eller both far from the players they once were, this Capitals offense doesn’t pack the same punch it once did, particularly should the second line continue to struggle without Oshie.
It’s unclear how the Capitals will handle the back-to-back spot between the pipes, as almost certainly Vitek Vanecek will get one contest and Ilya Samsonov the other.
Vanecek has played to a -0.4 goals saved above expected rating with a .917 save percentage in 33 games this season.
Buffalo Showing Promise Against Strong Opposition
The Sabres are skating through the dog days of another meaningless regular season, but by no means has that prevented the club from playing with a notably high level of intensity of late. Their young core is looking to prove that the minutes it’s getting are deserved at the NHL level.
Over their last 10 games, the Sabres have played to a 7-3-0 record against tougher-than-average competition. A 49.25 expected goals rate suggests the win/loss record is due for regression, but Buffalo is clearly playing well above its reputation and season-long record.
Buffalo’s work rate and attention to detail defensively has been notable, and has shown through analytically. The Sabres hold the league’s third-best expected goals against per 60 minutes over those last 10 games at 2.66.
In terms of actual production by the Sabres’ opponents, they started a three-game winning streak by shutting out the Flames in Calgary. Buffalo has allowed five goals in the other two wins.
Craig Anderson should get the start here in goal. He has been in good form of late, posting a solid .913 save percentage over his last five starts. Anderson has played to a .904 save percentage with a -4.2 goals saved above expected rating on the season.
Capitals vs. Sabres Pick
The Sabres have made it tough for some very good teams to generate offense of late, and I think we could see that narrative play out again Friday.
We can expect Washington to put together a sharper effort than we have seen in its last two outings, but it’s still easy for me to see the Sabres hanging around here. I believe getting the Sabres +1.5 at -140 holds some value in a contest that I don’t see Washington dominating the way a -210 favorite should.
Certainly, playing the Sabres outright would be reasonable, but I prefer taking the puck line. Buffalo has had some very good luck in close games of late and could certainly be due to lose a one-goal affairs.
Should the Capitals opt to go with Samsonov as opposed to Vanecek in the road leg of this weekend back-to-back, we gain slightly more value. I’m content with this play should Vanecek start, though.
Pick: Buffalo Sabres +1.5 -140 (play to -160)