Penguins vs. Sabres Preview, Prediction | NHL Betting Preview (November 2)
Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Buffalo Sabres players Tage Thompson and Alex Tuch
- The Penguins head to Buffalo for tonight's nationally televised game on TNT with the Sabres.
- Both teams are coming off high-scoring affairs.
- Below, Tony Sartori explains why he expects the scoring to continue tonight and how he's targeting the total for the game.
Penguins vs. Sabres Odds
|Over/Under||6.5 (-122 / +100)|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
We have an entertaining Eastern Conference tilt in store as the Atlantic Division’s Buffalo Sabres host the Metropolitan Division’s Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. The last time these two teams squared off, Buffalo won in a 4-3 shootout.
Will we get another high-scoring affair, or can the goaltending step up this time around?
More Scoring for Pittsburgh Penguins?
The Pittsburgh Penguins enter this contest on the second half of a back-to-back following last night’s 6-5 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins. The over is now 6-4 to start the season for Pittsburgh, a trend that should continue into this game.
While the offense has gone quiet over the last week (last night’s game withstanding), positive regression should hit the Penguins. At 5v5 this season, the Penguins rank ninth in the league in goals for per 60 minutes (GF/60) but rank third in xGF/60.
This disparity is due to the fact that they rank 16th in power play goals and 22nd in finishing, two figures that both should positively regress. Meanwhile, the defense has been playing fine but should regress in the other direction.
At 5v5 this season, the Penguins rank seventh in the league in goals against per 60 minutes (GA/60) but 15th in xGA/60. The loss of defenseman Kris Letang (illness) amplified this expected regression last night as the Bruins scored six times, and Letang is also questionable for tonight’s game.
Backing up this team is backup goaltender Casey DeSmith, who is projected to get the start between the pipes tonight due to the back-to-back. Over his last two starts against the Sabres, DeSmith is 0-1-1 with a .902 SV% and 2.91 GAA.
Buffalo Sabres Defense in Trouble?
Entering this game in opposite form, the Buffalo Sabres have won five of their last seven games and are coming off a convincing 8-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night. The offense has started to really click for Buffalo as the team continues to improve every year under Don Granato.
At 5v5 this season, the Sabres rank in the top half of the league in GF/60, xGF/60, Corsi, PP Goals, and Finishing. Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin is finally emerging as the star he was projected to be while forward Tage Thompson is proving all those who feared regression from him this year wrong.
However, the blue line could be an issue for Buffalo in this game. First of all, It is riddled with injuries as Henri Jokiharju is considered week-to-week with a facial fracture, Ilya Lyubushkin is questionable with a lower-body injury, and Mattias Samuelsson is out for several weeks with a lower-body injury.
These injuries could jump-start some regression that is expected defensively for this team. At 5v5, the Sabres rank ninth in the league in GA/60 but just 24th in xGA/60.
Backing up this defense is goaltender Eric Comrie, who is projected to start between the pipes in this contest. Through six starts this season, Comrie is 3-3 with a .902 SV% and 3.34 GAA.
Among starting goaltenders, he ranks just 19th in goals saved above expected per 60 minutes (GSAx/60) at 5v5.
Penguins vs. Sabres Pick
Both of these teams are coming off games in which there were 11 total goals scored, and we should expect at least seven in this contest. Pittsburgh is going with a backup goaltender who is likely starting behind a tired defense that is missing its best defensemen.
Meanwhile, Comrie has been below-average for the Sabres and is backing up a defense that is primed for regression and riddled with injuries.
Each of these offenses features more than enough firepower to get this game over the total, which is what we should expect to happen in this nationally televised game.