NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Senators vs. Sabres (February 17)
Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Alex Tuch #89 celebrates his second period goal with Tage Thompson #72, Jeff Skinner #53 and Henri Jokiharju #10 of the Buffalo Sabres
- The Sabres and Senators have one win apiece against each other this season. Who will take the series on Thursday night?
- The Sabres are 2-0 in games in which they've been positioned as favorites this season.
- Our NHL betting analyst breaks down why he feels that streak will continue at home against Ottawa.
Senators vs. Sabres Odds
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We've got an Atlantic Division showdown as the seventh-place Ottawa Senators travel to Buffalo to take on the sixth-place Sabres. This will be the third meeting between these two teams this season, with Buffalo taking the first matchup 3-1 and Ottawa taking the most recent tilt 5-0.
Will Buffalo break the series split at home, or can Ottawa win as a road dog?
Senators Struggling With Injuries
The Ottawa Senators hit the road following their 5-2 home loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night. The Blues dominated the Senators, holding Ottawa to seven or fewer shots on net in each of the three periods.
Ottawa has begun to struggle recently, losing three of its last four games. These poor outings make sense due to the immense amount of injuries the Senators are facing.
The Senators will be without two of their leading goal-scorers (Josh Norris and Drake Batherson), their top defensemen (Thomas Chabot) and both of their regular goaltenders (Anton Forsberg and Matt Murray) against Buffalo. The Senators called up AHL goaltender Filip Gustavsson Wednesday, and he is projected to get the start.
Gustavsson has had his challenges this season, posting a mere 0.892 SV% and ranking 30th amongst starting NHL goaltenders in 5-on-5 goals saved above expected per 60 minutes (GSAx). The reason for Gustavsson playing down in the AHL was his recent poor form as he has lost his last five straight starts.
Over those losing starts, Gustavsson had a GAA of 4.60 and a 0.859 SV%. Gustavsson probably will not have much help in front of him either, as the Senators have scored two or fewer goals in three of their last four games.
Sabres Out For Revenge
The Buffalo Sabres are looking for their third straight victory as they are coming off of a 6-3 home win over the New York Islanders on Tuesday night. This is a perfect spot for Buffalo to avenge its 5-0 loss to Ottawa at the end of January, especially now that the Sabres are at home facing an AHL-level goaltender.
The Sabres confirmed that Craig Anderson will be getting the start between the pipes for Buffalo. Anderson has had a nice season for the Sabres when he has stayed healthy, winning six of his nine starts and posting a 0.916 SV%.
A big storyline for Buffalo recently has been the first line in the forward group, consisting of Jeff Skinner-Tage Thompson-Alex Tuch. This line has been on fire recently and scoring on a nightly basis, with this spot being a great opportunity to extend that against Gustavsson.
Senators vs. Sabres Pick
The Sabres have been playing better hockey than the Senators since Ottawa's scorers went down. Now with Ottawa's two main goaltenders out too, I believe the Sabres will keep their win streak going.
Buffalo also has an edge in terms of metrics, specifically defensively. The Sabres rank 12 spots higher than Ottawa in 5-on-5 expected goals against per 60 minutes (xGA) and 15 spots higher in average expected goal value of opposing 5-on-5 shot attempts.
This showdown will be the Sabres' third game this season as the favorite, and they are 2-0 in those first two games. I believe they take that streak to 3-0 and avenge their shoutout loss to the Senators in January.
Pick: Buffalo Sabres ML | Bet to: -135