I dropped both of my free NHL picks last night, one of which came in exceedingly frustrating fashion.
I took a risk on a bad Red Wings team against a bad Flyers road team and it didn’t work out.
The Flyers dominated the majority of the game and although it was fairly close throughout and just 1-0 Flyers after two periods, they would win 3-0 in a game that the Red Wings did not deserve to win.
I can live with that result, but the next one is a tough pill to swallow.
I had the Maple Leafs to beat the visiting Panthers in regulation and when Auston Matthews made it 3-1 Leafs early in the third, it looked like that would indeed be the case.
However, the Panthers rallied back, scored two quick ones to tie and it and two more afterwards – including an empty-netter – and beat the Leafs by a 5-3 count.
The Maple Leafs dominated the game, outshot the Panthers 28-14 at 5v5, controlled 56.41% of possession, 69.44% of scoring chances and 70% of high-danger scoring chances.
The problem was Frederik Andersen got injured in the first and didn’t return for the second, Michael Hutchinson came in and allowed three goals on just 13 shots and the Leafs lost this one.
It was the right pick through and through and the Leafs dominated as expected, but we caught a bad injury break and the Panthers lucked their way to a win.
I’ll look to put that one behind me and move onto a jam-packed 13-game Wednesday night schedule!
Season Record: 86-76-1
Now let’s turn our attention to a free NHL pick featuring the Avalanche vs. Sabres from the KeyBank Center in Buffalo!
Avalanche vs. Sabres Betting Odds
- Avalanche (-170)
- Sabres (+150)
- Avalanche -1.5 (+145)
- Sabres +1.5 (-165)
- Over 6.5 (-105)
- Under 6.5 (-115)
Avalanche vs. Sabres NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these clubs before I get into my final pick!
The Avs have been a little more inconsistent than we thought they would be this season as they remain in third place in the Central, a division that’s also been weaker than expected here in 2019-20.
They’ve alternated winning and losing streaks of late. They snapped a four-game losing streak with a three-game winning streak, however that one was also snapped with a 6-3 loss in Philadelphia to get this five-game road trip started.
That said, most of the inconsistencies have come at home as the Avs have put in yeoman’s work on the road – for the most part – in going 14-9-2 away from the Pepsi Center this season.
The favorable road results have been due to their play at both ends of the ice.
The Avs will enter this one tied for fourth with 3.36 goals per game on the road this season despite their power play ranking 26th at just 14.6%.
Their defensive game has been much better on the road than at home as they rank sixth with just 2.76 goals against per game on the road this season compared to the 3.16 they allow per game at home which ranks them 25th.
Their penalty kill has also been solid at 79% on the road, good for 13th league wide.
The Avalanche have also been one of the better possession teams on the road this season.
At 5v5 on the road, the Avs rank ninth with a 49.80% Corsi For%, also ninth with a 49.95% Scoring Chances For% and 15th with a 48.10% High-Danger Chances For%.
They’ve benefited from a fourth-ranked 9.77% shooting rate on the road, but have also received the best goaltending in the NHL on the road, at 5v5, with a .939 Sv% in those situations.
Looking to keep up that good work tonight will be Philipp Grubauer who did not fare well in his last road start in allowing five goals on just 27 shots in that loss in Philly on Saturday.
The former Capital enters this one sporting a 2.90 GAA and .908 Sv% on the season while his home/road splits are fairly even in the form of a 2.93 GAA and .909 Sv% on the road in 15 outings.
The Saturday start was his first in two weeks, so perhaps he shook the rust off in that one, although he’s now posted an .843 Sv% over his last two outings after a home shutout of the Sharks on the 16th of January.
Jack Eichel recently stated that the wheels would not fall off the Sabres this time around, but the problem is that they kind of already have.
Buffalo jumped out to a hot start this season but now find themselves ahead of just three teams in the Eastern Conference with a 23-22-7 record on the season.
They have been better at home, however, with a 15-8-3 mark at KeyBank Center on the campaign.
Offensively, the Sabres sit 16th with 3.23 goals per game at home this season, but Eichel has been the one doing the overwhelming majority of that damage.
He’s tallied 23 goals and 41 points in just 26 home games and has scored three of the Sabres’ last five goals.
In other words, if Eichel doesn’t score, the Sabres are almost guaranteed a loss with a paper-thin offense that gets very little from their bottom-nine forward group.
Defensively, they haven’t been too shabby at home where they rank 13th with 2.81 goals against per game, although the penalty kill has been an issue with a 79.2% mark on the season at home – good for a share of 22nd.
That penalty kill has been much more of an issue of late, posting just a 60% mark over their last four games and has gone just 4 for 7 over their last three – all at home.
The Sabres haven’t been the best possession team at home, either.
At 5v5 on home ice, they rank 24th with a 48.69% Corsi For%, 22nd with a 49.35% Scoring Chances For% and 29th with a 48.82% High-Danger Chances For%.
While they haven’t been able to take advantage of home ice in the possession game, all of those numbers are actually quite similar to the one that the Avs sport on the road.
With Linus Ullmark on the shelf at the moment, Carter Hutton has taken over the starting job again after getting very little work in December and January and getting shelled when he did get a start.
However, he’s been good in Ullmark’s absence, posting a .942 Sv% over his last two starts.
He owns a 3.13 GAA and .897 Sv% on the season, but he has been better at home where he’s put forth a 2.44 GAA and .912 Sv% in 10 starts and 11 appearances.
Hutton owns a 2.69 GAA and .915 Sv% in eight games against the Avalanche in his career from his days with the Predators and Blues in the Central Division.
The Sabres have been a pretty good home team where they’ve received good goaltending this season, but I have to side with the road team here as they’re simply the superior club.
The Avs have arguably been better on the road than at home this season and have certainly been able to defend much better on the road.
If they can defend around their average for the season on the road tonight, they’ll be in good shape to win this one.
Jack Eichel has been lights out at home and he’s always a concern, but he’s been responsible for almost all of his teams offense of late and obviously for much of the season as well in what has been a career-year for the American pivot.
That said, the Avs have a pretty good center of their own in Nathan MacKinnon and much more depth up front.
With Buffalo struggling to get any offense from someone not named Eichel and the Avalanche sporting one of the more explosive offensive groups in the league, I am going to side with the home team here.
That said, I’m not going to pay a ton of juice on the moneyline, but rather take them to win this one in regulation on the three-way moneyline at -120.