Saturday NHL Odds, Picks, Predictions: Sabres vs. Coyotes Betting Preview

Saturday NHL Odds, Picks, Predictions: Sabres vs. Coyotes Betting Preview article feature image

Ben Green/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Craig Anderson

  • Two lowly NHL teams from last season face off on Saturday when the Coyotes host the Sabres.
  • Buffalo is slightly favored over Arizona, even though the Sabres will be without a couple key players.
  • Michael Leboff breaks down the matchup and makes his betting pick below.

Sabres vs. Coyotes Odds

Coyotes Odds+100
Sabres Odds-120
Time1 p.m. ET
TVNHL Network
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

I've long been a proponent of more hockey matinees. The NHL will always struggle to compete with the NBA, college basketball and NFL on weeknights, so why not throw a couple of contests during the day — especially with more people still working from home.

I know the players hate them and gate money means a lot to the owners, but with gambling going mainstream, I think matinees provide a sneaky opportunity for the NHL to get a bigger slice of the pie.

All that said, the first matinee of the 2021/22 NHL season is a game only a bettor could fall in love with.

The Arizona Coyotes visit beautiful Western New York to take on the Buffalo Sabres. While these two clubs are located on completely opposite sides of the country, they are in a very similar predicament for the upcoming NHL season: They are not very good.

Although maybe you shouldn't tell the Montreal Canadiens that. The Habs did just get boat raced by Buffalo, 5-1, on Thursday night. There were some favorable conditions for the Sabres in that game, Montreal was on a back-to-back and playing third-string goalie Sam Montembeault, but it was still an impressive display from the Sabres as they controlled 70.1% of the expected goals against a much more talented team.

It was a much different story for the Arizona Coyotes in their season opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Jackets are a tier or two above Arizona for sure, but it's not like anybody is expecting big things from the Jackets in a rebuilding season. So the 8-2 trouncing the Coyotes experienced in their curtain-raiser was definitely not encouraging.

It's not clever to look too hard into one game's worth of data, especially one that goes off the rails like it did on Thursday, but the Coyotes did control play pretty well at 5-on-5 against the Jackets. Arizona finished with a 2.86 to 1.41 expected goals edge when you adjust for score effects and a 3.95 to 2.01 advantage in all situations.

Despite the two very different results on Thursday, the reality of this game is these are two deeply, deeply flawed teams that are pretty evenly-matched. The odds reflect that, with Buffalo sitting as a -120 favorite in a home game.

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Coyotes vs. Sabres Pick

You have to be a certain kind of person to bet this game (I wouldn't miss it for the world, to be honest), so I have serious doubts that this contest will draw much attention from a betting standpoint, especially since it is going up against primetime college football. Not too many people out there will be watching/betting on Yotes-Sabres over Auburn vs. Arkansas (Woo Pig Sooie).

As for me, I actually think there may end up being some value on Arizona. At the time of writing, the best number on the Desert Dogs is +102. Buffalo will be without its No. 1 center (Casey Mittelstadt) and a top-pairing defenseman (Henri Jokiharju) for the foreseeable future, further depleting a lineup that wouldn't scare most AHL teams. Arizona is not much better and is playing on the road in an early start, but with Mittelstadt and Jokiharju out of the lineup I like the Coyotes.

God help us all.

Pick: Arizona Coyotes -110 or better

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