Bruins vs. Sabres NHL Pick – October 22, 2021

It’s a light Friday night in the NHL with just four games on tap and just three starting after 7 pm ET.

That said, there’s still value on the board so let’s dive into a Bruins vs. Sabres NHL Pick from Buffalo!

Bruins vs. Sabres Betting Odds

*Odds courtesy of BetOnline

Teams Moneyline Puck Line Total
Bruins -215 -1.5 (+115) Over 5.5 (-111)
Sabres +193 +1.5 (-135) Under 5.5 (+101)

Offense and Defense

Bruins

The Bruins play just their third game of the season tonight, so we’re dealing with tiny samples across the board here, but they’re off to a solid offensive start with six goals through games against the Dallas Stars and Philadelphia Flyers.

Bruins winger Brad Marchand has accounted for half of the team’s goal-scoring on the season with a two-goal effort in the opener against the Stars — including one on a penalty shots — while he added another in a loss to the Flayers in game No. 2.

The team has generated scoring chances at a fourth-ranked rate so far and high-danger chances at a 12th-ranked rate per 60 minutes of 5v5 action and will enter this one ranked fourth in terms of expected goals/60 at 5v5 on the season so far, so they’ve certainly been on the right side of the analytical debate.

What’s more is the Patrice Bergeron/Brad Marchand/David Pastrnak trio all sport a 100% share of the high-danger scoring chances generated with them on the ice, a good omen with both Bergeron and Pastrnak in search of their first tallies of the season tonight.

They may have allowed seven goals in two games so far, but I’m not exactly sure that’s an accurate picture of their defensive work so far this season. After holding the Stars to one goal in the opener, the B’s surrendered six goals on just 24 shots in Philly on Wednesday. Obviously, Jeremy Swayman wasn’t very good in that one for the Bruins in goal, but the team defense looks awfully stout from an analytical angle.

The Bruins are by far the best team in preventing high-danger chances/60 in the early going and their expected goals against/60 mark ranks fifth in the league. They have a 1.75 mark in that category, yet have surrendered 3.10 goals/60 at 5v5 this season. That’s quite the discrepancy in a tiny sample.

Sabres

Obviously, a 3-0-0 start and elite results at both ends of the ice is precisely what we all expected from this Sabres team this season.

Jokes aside, head coach Don Granato has his team playing extremely well out of the gate, and they’ve scored five goals in two of their three games so far with an average of 3.67 goals per game overall. Not only that, but the metrics suggest it’s not entirely a fluke as they also rank fourth in high-danger chances for/60 despite falling to 16th in expected goals for/60 at 5v5.

Obviously, it’s a group that’s lacking star power up front with plenty of recent trades and the ongoing Jack Eichel saga that continues to sideline one of the game’s best players. Youngster Dylan Cozens has taken over the top center-ice job up front alongside Jeff Skinner, but other than Victor Olofsson on the second line it’s a group that’s going to struggle mightily in replicating their early results this season.

Not only have the Sabres stepped up in a major way on offense, but the back end has surprised to the upside in a great way. The Sabres have allowed just four goals through three games on the season and the underlying metrics are rather impressive as well.

Buffalo will enter this one ranked sixth in high-danger chances against on the season, but also first in the NHL in terms of expected goals against/60 at 5v5 on the season with a mark of 1.27. Their 1.68 actual goals against/60 at 5v5 are obviously above that number, but the analytical community is certainly backing up the Sabres’ fast start on the back end.

This is the stiffest test yet, however, so we’ll see if they’re able to keep one of the NHL’s very best lines in check this evening.

Goaltending Matchup

Bruins

After Swayman was torched in Philly, it’s time for Linus Ullmark to make his Bruins debut, interestingly against his fold team tonight in western New York.

Ullmark was gashed for a 3.90 GAA and .839 Sv% while going 0-3 in the pre-season, perhaps leading head coach Bruce Cassidy to begin the season with Swayman in back-to-back games after he impressed in a small sample a season ago.

Ullmark was also quite good last season as well, and behind an inferior blueline in Buffalo. He turned in a 2.63 GAA and .917 Sv% while saving more than 5.50 goals above average on a brutal Sabres team that finished the season as the league’s worst. Ullmark did so while appearing in just 20 games due to injury, but he was certainly reliable when healthy.

After a rough pre-season followed by an extended break, he’ll look to impress in his Bruins debut behind a strong Boston defense corps.

Sabres

The Sabres’ tandem of Ullmark and Carter Hutton from the last few seasons are gone, and it’s a new and rather uninspiring tandem featuring 40-year-old Craig Anderson and 32-year-old AHL veteran Dustin Tokarski.

Despite the seemingly lack of reliability between the two, they’ve both been excellent to start the season while it’s Anderson getting the nod for his third start of the season tonight.

Anderson spent last season as the third-string, taxi-squad netminder for the Washington Capitals, but was fantastic in two starts and four appearances, posting a 2.13 GAA and .915 Sv% in that time. He’s off to a hot start this time around, turning in a 1.50 GAA and .954 Sv% while saving more than 2.6 goals above average, as per Hockey Reference.

Obviously, those numbers are unsustainable by any goaltender’s measure, and it’s fair to question was a much larger sample will reveal. His most recent notable sample was 34 games with the 2019-20 Ottawa Senators, and he posted an ugly 3.25 GAA, .902 Sv% and -8.0 goals saved above average. The previous two seasons were even worse and he was last productive all the way back in 2016-17 with a stout 2.28 GAA and .926 Sv%.

For now, he’s hot, but a stiff test awaits tonight.

Special Teams

Bruins

The Bruins’ power play is off to an 0-for-4 start to the season in their two games, but with the talent level on board it’s safe to say it should be a productive group again this season.

They ranked 10th with a 21.9% clip last season, but that was a drop-off from a second-ranked 25.2% clip in the 2019-20 season. It’s fair to wonder if the Torey Krug departure was a major factor in the slip in production as Charlie McAvoy is now the lone defenseman on that group. It’s a nice opportunity for the youngster to show off his offensive upside this season in that role.

The penalty kill uncharacteristically went 0 for 2 in the loss to the Flyers on Wednesday after beginning the season with a dynamite 6 for 6 outing against the Stars. A 75% mark doesn’t look right for a Bruins team that has been among the very best penalty-killing clubs in the NHL in recent seasons, ranking first in the NHL with an 85% mark over the last two seasons.

Goaltending played a part Wednesday, so we’ll see if a bounce-back effort is in store for this group.

Sabres

Despite going 0 for 3 in the win over the Canucks on Tuesday, the Sabres’ power play is off to a 4 for 11 start (36.4%), good for a share of fifth in the league so far. They went 4 for 8 through the first two games of the season, including a big-time 3 for 6 effort in a 5-1 beatdown of the Montreal Canadiens in their opener.

With the likes of Rasmus Dahlin, Olofsson, Cozens and Skinner on that top unit, it’s reasonable to believe the man advantage could be a strength for this team. They ranked 12th with a 21% clip without Eichel for much of last season and while Sam Reinhart is also gone from that group, there is still firepower remaining on this power play.

The penalty kill was picked apart for a 26th-ranked 77.7% clip last season, but is off to a perfect 9 for 9 this time around. Only the Sabres and San Jose Sharks sit with a clean 100% penalty killing rate on the young season.

This is an area that can vary from year to year and there’s certainly new personnel on these groups. As with the defense, it’s a seriously stiff test on the PK this evening.

Betting Trends

Bruins

  • Bruins are 1-4 in their last five games as a favorite
  • Bruins are 0-4 in their last four games against the Atlantic Division
  • Over is 3-1-1 in the Bruins’ last five games overall
  • Over is 3-0-1 in the Bruins’ last four games playing on 1 days rest

Sabres

  • Sabres are 6-0 in their last six home games
  • Sabres are 5-0 in their last five games as a home underdog
  • Over is 5-0-1 in the Sabres last six games as a home underdog
  • Over is 5-1-1 in the Sabres’ last seven home games

Head to Head

  • Bruins are 39-19 in the last 58 meetings
  • Favorite is 40-17 in the last 57 meetings
  • Bruins are 16-5 in the last 21 meetings in Buffalo
  • Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings

Bruins vs. Sabres NHL Pick

The Sabres are red-hot out of the gate pretty much across the board, but there’s going to be some serious regression kick in any time now.

I’m not completely writing this team off as they actually played well after Granato took over last season, and clearly he has them playing extremely well out of the gate. However, I’m not sure the competition has been strong to this point. The Sabres beat the 0-5-0 Montreal Canadiens, the 0-3-1 Arizona Coyotes and the 2-2-1 Vancouver Canucks so far. That’s a combined opponents’ record of 2-10-2 so far this season.

Obviously, this matchup tonight is their stiffest test of the young season from just about any angle you choose, and the Bruins’ top line has been all over it again this season.

I’ll bet on some notable Sabres regression tonight and grab the road side on the puck line.

The Bet
BRUINS -1.5
+115
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Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.

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