Flyers vs Sabres NHL Odds, Picks, Predictions
Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Mattias Samuelsson of the Buffalo Sabres.
- Buffalo has been one of the hottest teams in the league and will look to continue its impressive stretch against Philadelphia.
- Meanwhile, the Flyers have also been playing well, but will be playing the second half of a back-to-back.
- Ryan Dadoun breaks down the matchup and offers up a best bet below.
Flyers vs. Sabres Odds
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The Sabres haven’t made the playoffs since 2011 and weren’t expected to end the slump this year, but it’s starting to look like they’ll defy the odds. After getting off to a 7-11-0 start, Buffalo has been one of the league’s hottest teams with a 12-4-2 run.
Their path runs into the Flyers next. Philadelphia entered the campaign with even lower expectations than the Sabres, but hasn’t defied the odds to the same extent. However, the Flyers have had their moments so an upset Monday isn’t out of the question.
The Flyers earned four straight victories from Dec. 29-Jan. 5, but it’s important to note three of their opponents were Arizona, Anaheim and San Jose — three of the worst five teams in the league. Philadelphia also bested the Kings, who are having a great season, but still, the Flyers’ recent success looks a little less impressive after you factor in the overall quality of their competition.
Rookie goaltender Samuel Ersson, who was called up on Dec. 21, started in three of those four victories and stopped 80 of 86 shots over that span. Ersson was also between the pipes when the Flyers faced the Kings, saving 27 of 29 shots in a 4-2 victory.
That’s relevant because Philadelphia is sending out Carter Hart against Toronto on Sunday, meaning Ersson will likely get the difficult task of facing the overwhelming Sabres’ offense. This will be the 23-year-old’s biggest test to date.
If he’s not up for the challenge, the Flyers might be in trouble given their forwards have typically been unable to bail out a struggling goaltender this season. Philadelphia has yet to win a game where its surrendered four or more goals, which is a problem versus the Sabres given that they’ve been averaging an unreal 4.00 goals per game.
Philadelphia simply lacks the weapons to compete against high-powered offenses. To be fair to the Flyers, they haven’t had Sean Couturier (back) or Cam Atkinson (neck) this season. Any team would struggle to score if it was missing its top two forwards.
To their credit, the Flyers still have Travis Konecny, who had 20 goals and 40 points through 33 contests, and Kevin Hayes, who had 10 goals and 35 points in his first 38 games. But after them, the next forwards in the Flyers’ scoring race are Owen Tippett and Joel Farabee, who each had 21 points going into Sunday’s game.
That’s a big drop off and part of the reason why the Flyers were the 28th-ranked offense with 2.77 goals per game through their first 28 contests. That pales in comparison to Buffalo.
I don’t think many people thought Buffalo, in its first full season since the Jack Eichel trade, would be the league’s best offensive team, but here we are. With all due respect to Eichel and everything he managed in Buffalo, Tage Thompson is putting forth a better season than Eichel ever did.
Through 37 contests, Thompson has played like a Hart Trophy contender with 31 goals and 56 points. If Buffalo ends up making the playoffs, it will likely be thanks primarily to Thompson’s efforts. That’s not to suggest he’s been lifting the Sabres alone though. Alex Tuch, Jeff Skinner and Dylan Cozens have done a superb job of rounding out the forward core with 43, 39 and 37 points respectively. Meanwhile, Rasmus Dahlin ranks third in the defensemen scoring race with 12 goals and 44 points in 36 contests.
Keep in mind, Konecny had 40 points prior to Sunday’s action, which means Buffalo has three players having better seasons than the Flyers’ top scorer. Buffalo also has six players with at least 10 goals to Philadelphia’s three. This is one of the greatest possible mismatches offensively.
Or at least it might be. Part of the Sabres’ problem is that they have a way of elevating their opponent’s forwards. Buffalo is purely an offensive team, ranking 24th defensively with 3.43 goals allowed per game. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has a 3.57 GAA and .891 save percentage in 13 contests this season. It’s not as if he’s turned a corner during the Sabres’ hot streak either. While he’s won his past four games, he’s posted a 3.59 GAA and .898 save percentage over that span.
Craig Anderson has fared far better with a 2.61 GAA and .923 save percentage in 14 games. However, the Sabres have used the 41-year-old goaltender sparingly as of late. Over Buffalo’s past six games, Anderson has just been in net once.
The Sabres’ goaltender for Monday’s contest hasn’t been determined. Recent history suggests Luukkonen is the probable starter, but it’s certainly a situation worth keeping an eye on given the gap between the performances of the two netminders.
Flyers vs. Sabres Pick
Even without knowing who the Sabres will have in net, the oddsmakers are treating this as one of the biggest mismatches in the league.
I can see why the Sabres are so heavily favored. Not only are they the better team, but they’re also rested and playing at home while the Flyers are on the second half of a back-to-back. These aren’t prime circumstances for an upset.
But could Philadelphia at least beat the spread on the puck line? That seems feasible. Prior to Sunday’s contest, the Flyers have only suffered a loss of two or more goals once in their past 12 games. Meanwhile, the Sabres’ past three wins have come in overtime, though those wins came against Boston, Washington and Minnesota — stiffer competition than Philadelphia.
That’s what I ultimately keeps coming back to. The Flyers just aren’t that intimidating of a team and with them being tired, it’s hard to trust their ability to keep up with Buffalo. Even the over/under of 6.5 is complicated by the Flyers. Four of Buffalo’s past five games beat that over, but will Philadelphia’s offense do its part?
At the end of the day, I’m going to take Buffalo on the puck line. There’s just too much stacked against the Flyers for me to do otherwise.
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