NHL Odds & Pick For Flyers at Sabres: Will Historic Losing Streak End Monday?
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images. Pictured: Casey Mittelstadt, Jeff Skinner, Curtis Lazar
- Buffalo, entrenched in a 17-game losing streak, goes for NHL history on Monday night if it loses another.
- Philadelphia started the season well, but some of the worst goaltending in the league has grounded the Flyers.
- NHL betting analyst Michael Leboff explains why he thinks the Sabres avoid going down in infamy.
Flyers vs. Sabres Odds
|Time||Monday, 7 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Sunday and via DraftKings|
The Buffalo Sabres can put themselves in the history books on Monday night.
Mired in a 17-game losing streak, the Sabres are one loss away from tying the 2003-04 Pittsburgh Penguins for the longest losing streak in NHL history. Additionally, the Sabres look like they'll end up with the worst record (by points percentage) that the NHL has seen since ties were eliminated for the 2005-06 season.
As expected, the Sabres are a pretty sizable underdog against the struggling Philadelphia Flyers. Buffalo's +163 moneyline odds give them an implied win probability of just about 38%. That may still seem pretty high for a team that hasn't won a game since Feb. 23, but it tells you something about the Flyers, too.
The Flyers aren't chasing bad history, but they have also been a bit of an unmade bed over the last month. After a promising start to the season, Philadelphia has lost 10 of its last 15 games and is allowing a league-worst 4.3 goals per hour at even strength in that span. Only one team (Ottawa) is allowing more goals per game than the Flyers.
A lot of Philadelphia's problems can be drawn back to terrible goaltending. Carter Hart has been the NHL's worst goalie this season by a wide margin. The 22-year-old is last among all goalies with a -26.02 Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAx) in 22 games. The next goalie on the list, Detroit's Thomas Greiss, is almost seven goals better than Hart. It wouldn't be so bad if the Flyers had a reliable back-up goaltender. but that isn't the case with Brian Elliott who has posted a -6.52 GSAx in 17 games. Hart and Elliott have combined for a league-worst .877 save percentage.
That kind of goaltending would sink any team, but it's a bit perplexing for the Flyers since Hart was a Vezina Trophy favorite before the season. This was supposed to be a position of strength for Philadelphia, and instead it is sinking its season.
In fact, if the Flyers had gotten just league-average goaltending, we'd be having a very different conversation. That's because the Flyers' expected goals rate is actually just above 50% during their current 15-game schneid.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
Even if they aren't as bad as their recent malaise suggests, there's nothing remarkable about the Flyers. Philadelphia ranks 13th in goals per game, 30th in goals against per game, 20th in expected goals for, 15th in expected goals against and 21st in high-danger chance rate. Most of those numbers are obviously much better than what we see from Buffalo, but it just shows you that there's a flicker of hope for the Sabres on Monday night.
|Stat||Buffalo Sabres||Philadelphia Flyers|
|Goals for per 60 minutes||1.52||2.55|
|Goals against per 60||2.91||3.27|
|Goal differential per 60||-1.39||-0.72|
|Expected goals for per 60||2.08||2.16|
|Expected goals against per 60||2.44||2.25|
|Expected goal differential per 60||-0.38||-0.09|
|High-danger chance percentage||49%||47.6%|
Sabres vs. Flyers Best Bet
I've been looking for opportunities to take on the Philadelphia Flyers all season, and I won't stop now just because their opponent is one loss away from tying the record for the longest losing streak in the history of a 104-year-old league. These are the moments you live for as a hockey bettor!
On most nights the Sabres have a decided disadvantage in basically every facet of the game. But the Flyers don't create a ton of scoring chances, they are allowing a ton of goals, and their goaltenders have gone off the rails. There's enough in this game to feel weirdly at peace with a wager on the Sabres.
I would be surprised if people are rushing to the window to bet on Buffalo, so you may be able to wait out the market and get a better number, but I like the Sabres at anything above +165.