NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction: Sabres vs. Predators (Jan. 13)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images. Pictured: Roman Josi
- The Sabres have some serious goaltending questions and are thus huge underdogs on Thursday night against Nashville.
- The Predators have been arguably the hottest team in the NHL of late and look to keep that going.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of the matchup, including a betting pick.
Sabres vs. Predators Odds
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Can a goaltending crisis trigger a change of fortune against one of the hottest teams in the league?
The Buffalo Sabres sure hope so. A pair of injuries are forcing them to turn back to Aaron Dell in net on Thursday night for a very tough matchup against the red-hot Nashville Predators.
Here’s what you’ll need to know before deciding how to bet this game.
Who’s in Goal for Buffalo?
The Sabres are enduring yet another season where they’re dealing with one problem after another. Once again, they look destined to be a significant player in this summer’s draft lottery.
Earlier this week, they got blown out on home ice by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday — not just logging their sixth straight loss (0-4-2), but also seeing both their netminders suffer significant injuries.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen got the start. He gave up two goals on eight shots before leaving at the end of the first period with a lower-body injury that’s been classified as week-to-week.
Then, Malcolm Subban stepped in. He gave up four goals in the final two periods, while suffering an upper-body injury that’s expected to keep him out for a matter of months.
On Wednesday, the Sabres recalled Aaron Dell from their American Hockey League affiliate. They also signed 29-year-old farmhand Michael Houser to an NHL contract.
Dell is expected to start against Nashville. And despite the fact that he has been shaky during a couple of earlier recalls this season, always-positive Buffalo coach Don Granato says he saw a different keeper when he took in Rochester’s 5-2 win over Hartford last Friday.
Dell has won all five of his AHL starts this season, never giving up more than three goals. Last week’s win over the Wolf Pack was his first game action since Dec. 18.
In seven appearances at the NHL level this season, Dell has a grim 4.52 goals-against average and .872 save percentage. He’ll need to flip the script in a big way to give Buffalo any hope of keeping pace with the surging Predators on Thursday.
As for the rest of the Buffalo lineup, several key forwards are currently in COVID protocol, including hulking Tage Thompson. The two players who came back to Buffalo in the Jack Eichel trade, Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs, have also been in protocol, but could be activated in time to face Nashville.
And while the Sabres’ 5-on-5 numbers are certainly nothing to write home about, their special teams this season have been quite respectable. Buffalo ranks 13th over in power-play percentage (20%) and 14th on the penalty kill (79.1%).
Everything Coming Up Predators
I’m trying to find details that could help the Sabres find a toehold on Thursday, because the Nashville Predators have been virtually unbeatable over the last six weeks.
Since December 4, the Preds are a blistering 12-1-1. They’re currently riding a five-game winning streak and sit first in the Western Conference by points. With four fewer games played, Colorado actually has a higher points percentage, but in a head-to-head battle between the two powerhouses on Tuesday, Nashville prevailed thanks to an overtime goal by Matt Duchene.
After they were left exposed in the expansion draft last summer, both Duchene and his fellow $8-million man Ryan Johansen have bounced back nicely for Nashville, each tallying nearly a point a game.
Rookie Tanner Jeannot has been a revelation up front — an old-school power forward who’s as comfortable dropping the gloves or laying a big hit as he is putting up points.
Captain Roman Josi remains a powerhouse on defense, and Juuse Saros continues to impress as a starter who’s matching or possibly exceeding what franchise legend Pekka Rinne achieved during his time in Nashville.
Saros has now played more minutes than any other goalie in the NHL, and his win over Colorado on Tuesday was his 20th of the season, tying him with Andrei Vasilevskiy for top spot in the league. Also, Saros currently ranks third in the NHL in goals saved above expected, and was just named the NHL’s second star of the week.
And while Saros faces a fair amount of rubber, he has also been incredibly consistent. He has allowed two goals or fewer in 23 of his 30 games played so far this season.
Just one roster note for John Hynes’ group: Filip Forsberg went into COVID protocol last Saturday. Depending on how his recovery is going, he could potentially be activated in time for Thursday’s game.
Sabres vs. Predators Pick
At +290, the oddsmakers are giving Nashville about a 75% chance of winning on Thursday — and that faith is well justified.
So where can a bettor find value?
It’s enticing to think that Dell could put his early-season struggles behind him, hoisting the Sabres onto his back and dragging them back into the win column. But with Saros likely to start at the other end of the ice, Dell’s chances of winning Thursday’s goaltending battle are slim, at best.
The Preds are scoring pretty consistently these days, too. So, taking the under could also be risky.
How about the puck line? Well, six of Nashville’s 11 home wins this season have been by two goals or more, while six of Buffalo’s eight regulation losses have been of the multi-goal variety.
At -118 on FanDuel, I like Nashville’s chances of beating Buffalo by two goals or more. A little more risk in your wager could equate to a somewhat tidier payout.
Pick: Predators puck line (-118); play down to -130