NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Sabres vs. Panthers (February 24)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Sabres vs. Panthers (February 24) article feature image

Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Tage Thompson.

Sabres vs. Panthers Odds

Sabres Odds+1.5
Panthers Odds-1.5
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Florida Panthers host the Buffalo Sabres on Friday in a matchup with significant playoff implications, as both are firmly entrenched in a battle for the final two playoff spots in the East.

Over the season, underachieving Florida has been one of the least profitable sides — a $100 bettor would be -$1206 with a -20.1% ROI.

The Panthers are again heavy favorites at home, priced at -200 to take advantage of the Sabres, who will skate in leg two of a back-to-back spot.

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Buffalo Sabres

If Buffalo is to continue pushing for a surprising playoff berth in a suddenly wide open race in the East, it is going to need superstar center Tage Thompson to remain healthy and in elite form.

Thompson had been scuffling through somewhat of a less productive patch prior to Thursday night's crucial hat trick versus Tampa Bay, but there were signs a massive breakthrough was on the horizon.

Thompson has generated 39 goals and 75 points in 56 games, and he leads what's become an elite Buffalo offense.

The Sabres have fallen into somewhat of a rut offensively over the last month, which has included a high number of tough defensive sides, but they still own a 3.73 goals per game average.

Part of Buffalo's offensive success has been a dominant power play, which is clicking at 25.1% thus far. Both Rasmus Dahlin and Thompson figure to be elite 5-on-4 players for the foreseeable future, and the Sabres' top power play unit being this good is far from a fluke.

The Sabres' greatest concern remains in goal, where both Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Craig Anderson have struggled badly of late.

Anderson, who will likely start, has played to a .915 save % and +4.2 GSAx throughout 19 games.

Florida Panthers

Florida has trended toward playing the kind of high-scoring, high-event hockey we became used to seeing last season prior to the arrival of Paul Maurice over the last 10 games.

The Panthers have allowed 3.96 expected goals against per 60, which is the fourth-worst mark in the league throughout that sample.

However, the Panthers have generated 4.15 expected goals for per game, so despite allowing a wealth of chances against, they are still holding more of the overall chances.

The actual combined goal average over the Panthers' last ten runs — hand in hand with those underlying results — suggests high scoring, as the game totals have averaged 7.2 goals for.

Florida has struggled on the penalty kill, succeeding at a sixth-worst rate (74.4%). It has also taken the most penalties in the league at 4.82. Allowing the most power-play goals against has hidden what has on average been a fairly sound process at even strength.

Sergei Bobrovsky has been confirmed as the Panthers starter for this contest. He has played to a +4.5 GSAx and .902 save % in 32 games.

Sabres vs. Panthers Pick

Given the number of elite offensive talents on display and relatively subpar defenses, this should be a very exciting matchup

The sides and totals look fairly sharp, but I believe we are being given playable numbers to see if Tage Thompson can stay hot in what is a much better matchup to produce than on Thursday against Tampa.

Florida is a better-than-average matchup to produce goals against for any skater, and we should see Buffalo rely heavily on its top unit in its biggest game of the season.

Florida's penalty kill is not just bad, it is also on the ice a ton because of how many penalties the Panthers take, which is also great news for Thompson props.

FanDuel has Thompson at +130 to score anytime and I see value there, and I also like a play on Thompson to record over 3.5 shots on goal.

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Pick 2: Tage Thompson Over 3.5 SOG (+100)

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