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NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Sabres vs. Flames (March 18)

NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Sabres vs. Flames (March 18) article feature image
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Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Johnny Gaudreau

  • The Flames are heavy favorites on Friday night against the Sabres.
  • It's a big step up in competition for Buffalo, which has shown signs of progress but is still well behind the contending Flames.
  • Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including a betting pick.

Sabres vs. Flames Odds

Sabres Odds +265
Flames Odds -340
Over/Under 6
Time 9 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Calgary Flames have won 15 of their last 17 home games heading into Friday night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.

Can they keep that dominance going, or do the Sabres have value as a road underdog?

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Flames Hungry, Eager for Run

The Flames suffered a rare loss Sunday in Colorado in a game where the deck was truly stacked against them. It was their fifth contest in six days on the road against a mighty Avalanche team they had just beaten a week prior.

It’s easy, then, to give the Flames a pass for a rare loss in that contest, and after a few days rest the Calgary got back in action by smoking the Devils 6-3.

Calgary continues to be one of the league’s best clubs, and analytically we should not expect the dominant results to change. General Manager Brad Treliving followed up the excellent addition of Tyler Toffoli by bringing in Calle Jarnkrok Thursday.

Those two deal’s perfectly bolster the Flames’ clearest area of need, and it’s easy to sense the excitement and belief from this group to go on a run this year and not waste a legitimate opportunity at a Cup.

We could see Dan Vladar draw the start for Calgary as the Flames may allow their top guy in Jacob Markstrom a start against his former club in Saturday’s back-to-back spot.

Vladar holds a -5.5 goals saved above expected rating with a .903 save % throughout 15 games, but has often offered his club better play than those numbers suggest.

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Sabres With Signs of Optimism

Prior to Thursday’s game in Edmonton, Buffalo managed arguably the club’s two biggest victories of what is ultimately another meaningless season.

The Sabres managed to best Jack Eichel’s Vegas Golden Knights last Thursday at home, much to the delight of the Buffalo faithful, and Sunday they put together a huge win in the Heritage Classic over the Maple Leafs.

Over the last six contests, the Sabres even hold a positive share of the expected goals rate at 51.19%.

The young talents who will be crucial to getting things moving in the right direction such as Rasmus Dahlin, Alex Tuch, Tage Thompson and Peyton Krebs have all shown very well of late. Likewise, Mattias Samuelsson is quickly proving to be very irritating defensively to the opposition.

There is cause for optimism for Sabres fans, but I would not expect the strong play to continue Friday night. Buffalo’s young core has struggled notably in the second night of back-to-back situations this season, playing to a 1-6-4 record.

Sabres vs. Flames Pick

Calgary is 15-1-1 on home ice since January 18, with an average goal differential of +2.76 in those contests. The Flames have covered the puck-line in 13 of those 17 games, and against a lot of competition tougher than the Buffalo Sabres.

On top of that, the Sabres play Thursday night in Edmonton, while Calgary will lie waiting to clean up some more points on home-ice as it treks toward a high playoff seed.

The Flames have dominated two other non-playoff team’s out of the East in their last two home games and I see no reason why we shouldn’t see a similar contest here.

This spot is more about the Flames dominance than a belief that the Sabres are a complete bottom-feeder. I expect Calgary to bring another strong effort, and that will be too much for the Sabres to handle.

The Flames’ puckline opened at the same number (-125) it did against the Devils, and I will happily be going right back to that price in a game where I feel it’s even more likely we see Calgary cruise to another home ice victory.

Pick: Calgary Flames -1.5 -125 (Play to -140)

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