After a cold stretch it was nice to get back on the profit side of things with a 2-1 night last night with my three free NHL picks.
That said, I was pretty lucky in doing so, as you will see, but also pretty darn close to going a clean 3-0, as well.
The cleanest results of the night came between the Maple Leafs and Stars where I had the Leafs as slight +101 underdogs in Dallas.
The Leafs scored first and build leads of 3-1 and 4-2, and while the Stars narrowed it to 4-3, the Maple Leafs tacked on an empty-better and hit us a winner in a 5-3 final.
The rest was a lot tricker.
The Battle of Alberta rematch did not disappoint in entertainment value, but it did for our bottom line. I had the Oilers as -116 home favorites in this one.
The Oilers chased the game most of the night, never leading at any point, but tied the game a three with less than nine minutes to go and the game went to overtime. Edmonton had several chances to win it in the extra frame, but it went to a shootout where Sean Monahan’s goal stood as the winner in a 4-3 Flames shootout win.
That was where we could have gone 3-0, but we did get extremely lucky to be 2-1 as I had the Lightning -1.5 on the puckline in Los Angeles.
It didn’t look good early when the Kings built a 2-0 lead, but the Lightning would rally all the way back and took a 3-2 lead midway through the third. It looked like that’s how it would end, but Steven Stamkos notched an empty-net goal with just one second left on the clock. It’s about as lucky as you can get in the empty-net department, but hey, I’ll take it. We notched that winner at +113.
All told, we netted 0.98 units on the night and I’ll now turn my attention to tonight’s three-game NHL schedule!
Season Record: 84-73-1
Now let’s take a look at a free NHL pick featuring the Canadiens vs. Sabres in an Atlantic Division showdown from the Keybank Center in Buffalo!
Canadiens vs. Sabres Betting Odds
- Canadiens (-109)
- Sabres (-101)
- Canadiens -1.5 (+225)
- Sabres +1.5 (-265)
- Over 6 (+102)
- Under 6 (-113)
Canadiens vs. Sabres NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these clubs before I get into my final pick!
The Canadiens are going to need to start racking up points in a hurry if they want to get within an arm’s reach of the playoff race as they currently sit 10 points back of the final playoff spot in the east.
A 4-2 loss to the Capitals coming out of the break on Tuesday didn’t help and it snapped a stretch where the Canadiens had won four of five with a pair of two-game win streaks sandwiching a loss.
The good news for the Habs in this one is that this game is not being played in their home arena at the Bell Center in Montreal as this team has flat-out played better away from home this season.
Montreal is 12-9-3 on the road this season compared to just 10-13-4 at home and it’s not difficult to see why.
The Canadiens enter this one tied for fourth in the NHL with 3.38 goals per game on the road – alongside the high-octane Avalanche – a number that towers over their 27th-ranked 2.70 mark at home.
Furthermore, the Canadiens rank second in the league with a 28.3% mark on the power play on the road, again towering over their 14.8% mark at home which ranks 29th in the league.
On the defensive side of the puck, the Canadiens rank 13th with 3.04 goals against per game, a number that’s superior to their 27th-ranked 3.22 mark at home.
Finally, their penalty kill is slightly better on the road with a 14th-ranked 79.2% mark compared to their 25th-ranked 78.1% mark on home ice.
The Canadiens are one of the NHL’s most dominant possession teams at home – which hasn’t helped their results – but they’ve also been real good in the possession game on the road, as well.
At 5v5 on the road this season, the Habs rank sixth with a 51.82% Corsi For%, sixth with a 51.14% Scoring Chances For% and also sixth with a 50.54% High-Danger Chances For%.
While the offense has been better on the road, the Canadiens have also received much better goaltending on the road as well from who should be tonight’s starter in Carey Price.
Price enters this one sporting a 2.85 GAA and .909 Sv% on the road, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
He also enters this one sporting a much improved 2.71 GAA and .920 Sv% on the road across 19 outings and owns a 2.21 GAA and .933 Sv% in the month of January to this point.
Furthermore, Price has been brilliant in posting a . 976 Sv% over his last two games on the road, allowing just one goal in each start – the latter of which came in Philadelphia against an excellent Flyers home offense.
Price is locked in at the moment and is playing this one where he’s been at his best all season long.
The Sabres won three of four heading into the All-Star break and came out with a favorable matchup on tap against a weak Senators road team that was playing their second game in as many nights.
What should have been a desperate Sabres team fell flat on their face in that one, however, never having a lead and losing by a 5-2 count as heavy home favorites.
Despite the two-goal effort, the Sabres haven’t had much trouble scoring goals at home this season where they rank 10th with 3.38 goals per game, but it’s been a one-line show in Buffalo this season.
Indeed, both goals came from the team’s top line on Tuesday as Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart scored the team’s goals and the bottom nine once again failed to provide any offensive support, which has been the case for the majority of the season.
The Sabres’ top point-getter that doesn’t play on the first line is defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, followed by another defenseman in Rasmus Ristolainen. It’s been that kind of season in Buffalo.
The team has actually done a decent job of defending at home as well, sitting 15th with 2.88 goals against per game, but that task might get harder tonight.
That’s because goaltender Linus Ullmark was injured late in Tuesday’s loss and will miss 3-4 weeks. That means the struggling Carter Hutton is now the team’s go-to guy in goal.
Hutton has struggled to the tune of a 3.31 GAA and .892 Sv% on the season, although he’s been better at home where he’s turned in a 2.67 GAA and .905 Sv% in nine appearances.
He’s allowed 17 goals over his last three games and will play behind a team that sports poor advanced metrics at home.
At 5v5 at home, the Sabres rank 24th with a 48.86% Corsi For%, 20th with a 49.82% Scoring Chances For% and 26th with a 49.58% High-Danger Chances For%.
The Sabres have not outshot their opponent in five straight games on home ice.
If you couldn’t tell above, I’m certainly with the road team in this one.
I mean, they aren’t the clear-cut superior team as these two clubs both sit with 51 points on the season, and Montreal has even played one more game.
Still, the Canadiens have been just so much better on the road than at home and their offense has been elite on the road.
While the Sabres suffered a big injury in their last game, the Canadiens actually get good news on the injury front tonight as their heart-and-soul player Brendan Gallagher is set to return tonight and he’s the engine that makes this offense go.
While I mentioned the Canadiens have the NHL’s second-best road power play, I should also mention that the Sabres were torched for three power play goals against a weak Senators power play on Tuesday, in just four opportunities.
The Sabres now rank 24th with a 78.3% mark on the penalty kill at home this season.
To be honest, I was looking real hard at a three-way moneyline play (regulation time) bet here and even the puckline where the Canadiens are at a whopping +225.
However, the one thing that concern me here is that the Canadiens offense has largely been cool of late, and while I think that changes tonight, it’s not a sure thing. If their offense had been clicking entering this one, I’d at least be taking them in regulation.
However, I do like the big goaltending and special teams advantage they have here, but I think I will play this one a little safe and take what I believe are reasonable moneyline odds.
Give me the Canadiens tonight at -109 on the moneyline, but if you’re feeling frisky I’d give strong consideration to the puckline at attractive +225 odds.