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Sabres at Blackhawks Odds, Picks, Predictions: Total Has Value on Monday (March 28, 2022)

Sabres at Blackhawks Odds, Picks, Predictions: Total Has Value on Monday (March 28, 2022) article feature image
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Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick Kane.

Sabres at Blackhawks Odds

Sabres Odds +135
Blackhawks Odds -155
Over/Under 6 (-110)
Time 8:30 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL odds here.

Coming off a rough loss in overtime against the Rangers last night, the Buffalo Sabres head to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks in their first meeting this season.

Buffalo has actually played some decent hockey as of late. They may have lost their last two in overtime, but in their last 10, they’ve gone 5-3-2. 

Chicago has played .500 hockey as of late, but they’re ready to move onto next season already. Given how poor this season has been, a 4-4-2 record in their last 10 isn’t terrible.

Sabres Playing Better, But Season-Long Metrics Still Lagging Behind

While Buffalo is out of the hunt, it’s hard not to look at this roster and be impressed with what they’ve done. They’ve competed hard and won games many thought they couldn’t. Tage Thompson is breaking out as a legit young talent, while Buffalo is getting contributions from Jeff Skinner, Rasmus Dahlin and Kyle Okposo. 

Regardless of the fact that Buffalo has exceeded expectations (which isn’t saying much), the team is still fairly one dimensional. Scoring a mere 2.63 goals per game, they can’t sustain consistent offense. Driving play is a weakness as they have an 44.67 xGF% (expected goals), and the power play below average, only scoring at an 18.8% rate.

Defensively, they’re just as bad, giving up 3.46 goals per game — seventh most league-wide, and they give up a ton of high danger chances. The penalty kill isn’t much better either as they only have a 75.3% success rate.

With all things considered, the goaltending in Buffalo hasn’t been that bad. Since Craig Anderson played last night against the Rangers, expect Dustin Tokarski to take the net. The journeyman net-minder is posting a decent .907 SV% and a -3.6 GSAx (Goals Saved Above Expected).


Blackhawks Remain Top-Heavy

Chicago has a few players that have the ability to light the lamp, but clearly it hasn’t been enough. They’re a very top heavy team, with not much else to offer. Patrick Kane and Alex Debrincat are superstars, while Seth Jones and Dylan Strome are proving their worth. Three players will be out with injury though, as they’re missing Jujhar Khaira, Tyler Johnson, and Connor Murphy.

You don’t need the standings to tell you things aren’t working out in the Windy City. Scoring at a poor 2.65 goals per game, the Blackhawks are ranked 27th in expected goals with a 46.57 xGF%. Having a man advantage is where they thrive though. Highlighted by Kane and Debrincat, Chicago can score at will on the power play with a 20.5% clip.

The Blackhawks aren’t great on defense either. Their porous defense, along with the below average goaltending, has led to a 3.44 goals against average per game. Being down a man doesn’t bode well for them either as they only have a 76.3% success rate on the PK. The one thing they do well is limit high danger chances, which they are fifth in the league. 

Since trading future Hall of Famer Marc-Andre Fleury, the net in Chicago belongs to Kevin Lankinen. After a decent year last year Lankinen has really struggled to find his footing this season. The Finn is putting up very sub-par numbers with an .889 SV% and an awful -18.2 GSAx. Backup Collin Delia took the ice on Thursday so I’d expect Lankinen to start Monday.

Sabres vs. Blackhawks Pick

While the Sabres and Blackhawks really don’t have much to play for, each team has competed hard and made things close in recent games. Buffalo is well known for its peskiness thanks to coach Don Granato, and Chicago has scorers that can light the lamp.

Most of the time when teams are out of the playoff hunt out of the season, they tend to play more free flowing — which is the case for both teams. Over the past five seasons, late-season games between teams with sub-.450 winning percentages have gone over at a 55% clip (55-45-16). 

I do not have much faith in either defense or goaltending, as neither really have an advantage here. It’s a good over spot.

Pick: Over 6 (-110)

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