NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Sabres vs. Lightning (November 5)
Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Nikita Kucherov
Sabres vs. Lightning Odds
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning both suffered losses to an elite Carolina Hurricanes team their last times out, and will not look to bounce back in this matchup at Amalie Arena Saturday night.
The Lightning enter as heavy favorites with the young, upstart Sabres playing in night two of a back-to-back road situation, but have not looked entirely true to form this season, and actually sit below Buffalo in the Atlantic Division standings.
Can the Sabres dig deep and find a result in this tough scheduling spot?
Positive Early Results For Sabres
Buffalo entered its tough matchup with the Hurricanes at somewhat of a high point, but that shooting percentage surge makes the team offensively a logical regression candidate.
Which is not to say Don Granato's young team has not taken meaningful steps forward, but holding the league's top shooting percentage with a closer to middle of the pack offensive roster is typically not a sign of something sustainable.
The Sabres have, however, still played to a strong xGF% of 51.80, and to look away from the analytics, it certainly has felt there is something meaningful progress coming in Buffalo with the atmosphere around the team this season.
Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power both look like legitimate stars on the back-end, and will need to continue to be exactly that moving forward as the Sabres are still thin in that area as Mattias Samuelsson, Ilya Lyubushkin and Henri Jokiharju remain sidelined.
Tage Thompson has looked like a legitimate star, and Sabres fans might be sick of listening to Victor Olofsson's personal ABBA goal song by the end of the year because it seems to be playing nightly.
Buffalo finally turning the corner is an excellent story for the NHL, and it will be very interesting to see if this roster can continue playing at this high level as we push toward Thanksgiving and the season's quarter-way mark.
Buffalo has received strong goaltending from the duo of Craig Anderson and Eric Comrie, but that could potentially be unsustainable over a large sample size.
Comrie will start this contest, and has played to a +0.2 goals saved above expected rating and .898 save % throughout seven appearances thus far.
Lightning Lethargic Early On
Evaluating what to expect from the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first two-thirds of the regular season has proven a consistent challenge in each of the last two years, and that theme remains the same early on this season.
Tampa has still played to a 6-4-1 record to this point, even while clearly not entirely clicking on all cylinders and appearing far less urgent than the opposition at times.
Victor Hedman being absent from the lineup and playing at far from top form when he has been in is certainly part of the concern, but altogether Tampa's roster is still incredibly strong and we all know are capable of better.
Tampa was thoroughly outplayed Thursday by the Hurricanes, but was able to hang around due to the combination of strong special teams play, and an incredible performance from Andrei Vasilevskiy, who set his personal regular season saves record with 55 prior to the shootout.
Defensively, the Lightning have played to a well below average xGA/60 of 3.57 thus far, which obviously showed in that contest, but the team undeniably still holds the roster to perform better than that when competing at its highest level. Obviously allowing 55 shots against won't sit well in a very proud and accomplished locker room.
Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos all still project to be among the top forwards in the entire league, and with steady depth still remaining beyond that trio of elite talents it's easy to say the Lightning will score at a better than 15th best rate league wide moving forward.
A far better team showing defensively in this favorable spot is likely, and should make life far easier for Vasilevskiy.
Vasilevskiy owns a +3.8 goals saved above expected rating with a .911 save % on the season, and has looked more or less true to form and should still be expected to dominate when given a chance.
Sabres vs. Lightning Pick
Backing rested home teams versus road sides on night two of a back-to-back has been a tremendous trend to bettors yet again this season, after excellent results a year ago.
Tampa Bay should be well situated to bounce-back with a much needed win in this spot after being thoroughly outplayed by Carolina Thursday, in what is supposed to be a scheduled win.
The Lightning should still be one of the elite teams in the East yet again this season, and this is more so a take revolving around the projected strength of Tampa Bay and how favorable this spot is as opposed to being a heavy slight on a Sabres team that is really enjoyable.
The Lightning winning this game by two or more at -105 projects to hold a lot of value, and if Vasilevskiy gets the start I would back Tampa on the puck line all the way down to -115.
Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning -1.5 -105 (Play to -115)