NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Sabres vs. Flames (October 20)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Sabres vs. Flames (October 20) article feature image

Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Calgary Flames Center Elias Lindholm (28).

  • The Flames host the Sabres and are looking to move to 4-0 on Thursday night.
  • While the Flames are the better team, our analyst is targeting the total in this one.
  • Nick Martin previews the game and shares his best bet below.

Sabres vs. Flames Odds

Sabres Odds+240
Flames Odds-300
Over/Under6.5 (-120/+100)
Time9:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Stop me if you have heard this before, but the Buffalo Sabres seem to finally be turning the corner as a plethora of young talents are making a difference at the NHL level.

Buffalo shocked Edmonton as heavy underdogs Tuesday night and will look to follow up that performance against a Calgary Flames team that has looked downright scary in the early stages of the season.

Calgary has played to a 3-0 record through a tough slate of games against the Avalanche, Oilers and Golden Knights, and as you would expect, the Flames are heavy favorites to move to 4-0 on Thursday.

Can the up and coming Sabres pull off a second consecutive shocker?

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Buffalo Sabres

At the end of last season, coach Don Granato's side was showing meaningful signs of a potential breakout, winning six of its final eight matchups and posting a strong expected goals rating of 52.99%.

The Sabres have followed that up with a very encouraging 2-1-0 start, where the only loss came in a respectable home effort against a strong Florida Panthers team.

Buffalo's 44.35 xGF% so far this year is less than encouraging, but it has come against tough competition, and with the Sabres leading on the scoreboard for a ton of game time.

The Sabres have a number of players who are likely to take steps forward this season.

Rasmus Dahlin was an offensive force from the back end versus Edmonton, pacing the Sabres with 1.42 expected goals.

Owen Power also seems likely to generate a strong amount of offense from the back end and through three games, the Sabres puck movement out of the back end is vastly improved compared to early last year.

That's good news for Tage Thompson, Victor Olofsson and Alex Tuch. I believe the Sabres are going to score at a far better rate all season long.

Buffalo generated 4.46 expected goals for versus the Oilers on Tuesday and I felt that high rating went right along with how the game appeared, and that the Sabres earned their four goal output, even if one was a late empty netter.

What will be far less replicable may be allowing just two goals against with the kind of defensive play we saw in that contest, as Buffalo allowed 5.21 xGA in all situations, and that number matches what we have seen all season long from the Sabres.

Eric Comrie was spectacular in goal for the Sabres in that contest, which is actually far from surprising when we consider his splits from a year ago with Winnipeg.

It is unclear whether Comrie will get another start here or if Granato will go back to veteran Craig Anderson, but for handicapping purposes it should be noted that Comrie is quite likely the better option this season.

Calgary Flames

Calgary's offseason acquisitions of Nazem Kadri, Jonathon Huberdeau and Mackenzie Weegar have all shined in the early going this season.

Calgary has blitzed the competition with 12 goals over its first three games, which is not surprising considering the personnel on hand.

Calgary has also played to the 5th highest xGF/60 in the league this season at 4.31 and will likely play at a high-tempo again here and take the play to a young Sabres side.

For an old school coach, Darryl Sutter's teams are very willing to attack with five men in the offensive zone and his team's aggressive pursuit of the puck has led to higher event hockey than you might expect over the past two seasons.

Sutter has also noted that he is committed to managing No. 1 goaltender Jacob Markstrom's minutes this year and will be finding one start a week for backup Dan Vladar.

If Sutter holds true to his word on that statement it could mean Vladar gets in for this game, as Markstrom played Tuesday versus Vegas, and with the Flames playing an elite Carolina team Saturday, you would think this is the night for the backup.

Sabres vs. Flames Pick

Buffalo has looked solid offensively and I believe the Sabres will continue to show more offensive prowess than many were expecting moving forward.

The Sabres should be able to manage a reasonable amount of offense in this spot, even against a Flames side which is simply one of the best defensive teams in the league by any measure.

However, I would not count on the Sabres holding the Flames to a lower mark and I think we are likely see a fast-paced game, which will result in a high-scoring matchup.

At -115 for this game to go over 6.5 I believe we have the right price to make a play and hope the alarming early season success rate of NHL overs continues in this spot.

Pick: Over 6.5 -115 (Play to -125)

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