NHL Odds are Nearly Split on First Game of Two
One can only assume how good these teams, Buffalo and Philadelphia, truly are. The Sabres are more of an enigma. This team just shut out Colorado 4-0 and holds wins over Tampa Bay and the Islanders while Philadelphia has mainly beaten struggling teams. Given the Sabres vs Flyers betting odds, Buffalo could be the sharper bet as the better team. But is it?
Day/Time: Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Sabres Have Done a 180 Thus Far
This is not the Buffalo Sabres of last season… at least for today’s NHL games. The Sabres finished 2022-23 as a high-powered offense. But with the 293 goals Buffalo scored, it gave up 297 and just missed the playoffs. Now, the Sabres are even in goals scored and allowed (27 each) and have improved defense at the expense of offense.
The Sabres’ penalty kill (PK), at 89.2%., is sixth in efficiency. But its power play (PP), at 10.7%, is 29th. Last season it was flipped: Buffalo was 9th in PP% and 28th in PK%. And on 5-on-5, it’s nearly the same as Buffalo is averaging just a bit more scoring chances than it is giving up per 60 minutes. Six of its last nine games have now gone under the total.
With both Devon Levi and Eric Comrie sidelined Buffalo needs to play a more responsible style. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen had himself a shutout against Colorado. But he had help as Buffalo limited Colorado to 24 shots and held them to their own zone for the majority of the game.
“It was an early start today,” Luukkonen said after the game. “I felt (us) struggle a bit as a team, but after a little bit of a rough start, we got it going. I got a couple saves early so that’s always helps my confidence.”
The win improved Buffalo 2-4 as an underdog on the ice hockey lines. The Sabres also improved to 6-3 against the spread (ATS) (puck line). That is an area of strength as the team is 3-0 ATS as a visitor.
Flyers Overachieving Early Just Like Last Season
Philadelphia Flyers was supposed to be one of the worst NHL teams this season. Or even last season. But don’t tell that to John Tortorella. He’ll work his players to the bone and it shows early results. Philadelphia is 4-4-1, is 5-3 on the puck line – the NHL point spreads – as an underdog, and has covered four straight as one.
We’re not fooled if this is the same trend as last season. Philadelphia started 7-3-2 and even beat teams like Tampa Bay and New Jersey. Then the wheels fell off and the team went on a 10-game losing streak (0-7-3). But this early in the season, the bookies are setting the Sabres vs Flyers betting odds at a near pick’em because God knows what Philadelphia will show up.
Eyes need to be on Carter Hart, the team’s goaltender. He’s been the definition of streaky. Last season, he went 22-23-10 with a 90.7% save percentage (SV%) and 4.4 goals saved above average (GSAA). But he also only had a 44.4% quality start percentage. He’s been solid this season thus far with a 92.1 SV% and 3.1 GSAA.
Philadelphia also still employs a slow type of game despite having one of the youngest teams. It’s worked so far. And if Philadelphia is to beat Buffalo, it will have to keep this potentially explosive team under wraps.
Bettors have steamed the Sabres vs Flyers betting odds’ totals at 6.5 to go over at -125. That’s because nine of these teams’ last 10 meetings have trended that way with an average of 7.5 goals per game. Given Hart’s hot-and-cold style and Buffalo’s more balanced approach, going the other way would be a shrewder play.