NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Sabres vs. Maple Leafs (March 2)
Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Toronto Maple Leafs standouts Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs welcome Buffalo Sabres to Scotiabank Arena for Wednesday's NHL matchup.
- The Maple Leafs are massive -425 favorites entering this affair, which has analyst Greg Liodice looking for something with better odds tied to the hosts.
- Check out below where our NHL betting analyst has found betting value with Toronto.
Sabres vs. Maple Leafs Odds
|Maple Leafs Odds||-425|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
While the Buffalo vs. Toronto rivalry isn’t as heated as it used to be, it’s always fun when both teams square up. At Scotiabank Arena, the dominant Maple Leafs enter Wednesday’s latest clash as the heavy home favorites at -425 odds, while the bottom-of-the-barrel Sabres enter “The Six” as the major underdog at +350 odds.
When the season started, Buffalo certainly surprised a lot of people. The expectations were very low and it was winning games. Then, reality hit and it has been a bumpy road. The Sabres are currently on a six-game losing streak, going 2-7-1 in their last 10 contests.
Toronto is one of the better teams in the league, sitting just a point away from holding the top spot in the Atlantic Division. While their stretch of 5-4-1 in their last 10 games might seem disappointing compared to the rest of their season, the Maple Leafs have won three consecutive games. Needless to say, it looks like that rough patch is behind them.
The Sabres were only able to go so far until teams started taking advantage of them. There’s a handful of players that are performing well, though, most notably Tage Thompson. The former first-round pick has scored more than 20 goals for the first time, along with Jeff Skinner, who regained his scoring touch. Rasmus Dahlin is also putting up solid numbers since he was acquired in the Jack Eichel trade, plus Alex Tuch is averaging a point per game.
With the luster wearing off in Western New York, the ability to create offense has fallen into the abyss. The Sabres were never expected to do much, but now they’re struggling. The Sabres are 25th in GPG (2.62); 31st in expected goals with a 44.36 xGF%; and, 21st in creating high danger chances. Surprisingly, they’ve been decent on the power play, scoring at a 19.2% clip.
It should be no surprise the Sabres are also a mess on the defensive end. Standing at 29th in goals allowed per game (3.58), Buffalo concedes the fourth-most high danger chances. The penalty kill is also below average, where they have a 76.6% success rate.
Buffalo’s goaltending has held up as strong as it could during this season. Veteran 40-year-old Craig Anderson has fared decently given the circumstances with a .901 SV% and a -2.7 GSAx (Goals Saved Above Expected). Dustin Tokarski, whom he’s split the starts with, is also posting below average numbers with a .899 SV% and a -6.9 GSAx this season.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs are stacked with high end talent, and between them, Colorado, and Florida, it’s hard to tell which is deeper. With the “Big 4” of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander, it’s hard for opposing teams to stop them. Factor in key pieces such as Morgan Rielly, Michael Bunting and Alex Kerfoot, you have yourself an immensely deep roster.
With a team that’s loaded with talent, the Maple Leafs are at or near the top of every offensive statistic. They’re fifth in GPG (3.53), 4th in expected goals with a 55.35 xGF% and third in high danger chances created. Not only that, but they’re also the No. 1 on the power play, scoring at an otherworldly 30 percent.
Defense isn’t a major strength, but that’s not to say they’re not poor either. Missing pieces like Muzzin and (possibly) Dermott hurts, but there’s a good structure there. They’re currently 10th in goals allowed per game (2.76), and 13th in high danger chances against. The penalty kill is also exceptional with an 85% success rate, good enough for fourth overall.
Toronto goaltender Jack Campbell surely has undergone a fall from grace. From being one of the most dominant in the first half, the American has struggled mightily. From consistently holding a .930 SV%, Campbell now holds a .917 SV% and a +2.4 GSAx. Since his backup Petr Mrazek started in their win against Washington, I fully expect Campbell to start in this matchup.
Sabres vs. Maple Leafs Pick
I think Buffalo will give Toronto some headaches, but ultimately see the host will come out on top. Head coach Don Granato is praised for getting the most out of Buffalo, so coming out the gate, I think the visitor will apply pressure.
In the end, Toronto is just dominant in all aspects of the game. The Maple Leafs have an elite power play and penalty kill, as well as consistently generating play in the offensive end.
That said, it will end up being too much for the Sabres to handle.
Pick: Toronto -1.5 (-165)