I made a trio of free NHL picks returning from the break last night, but unfortunately only one of those picks hit, although the results were quite close on the two losses.
The winner came between the Maple Leafs and Predators where I had the Leafs as slight road underdogs at +100.
The two teams exchanged early goals, but the Maple Leafs led 2-1 over 20 minutes and scored the only two goals of the second and took a nice 4-1 lead into the third. Each team scored in the final frame and the Maple Leafs took a relatively easy 5-2 decision here.
A little earlier, however, a couple of my picks failed to hit.
The first of which was the Montreal Canadiens as I had them as slight home underdogs at +110 to beat the Ovechkin-less Capitals.
Indeed, the Habs scored first in this one, but allowed the next three goals and two in a poorly-played second period and trailed 3-1 into the third. They made it interesting with a goal less than 10 minutes into the final frame, but a Nicklas Backstrom empty-netter sealed a 4-2 win for the Caps.
Finally, I had the Senators as -125 home favorites over the Devils, and the pick looked good until late.
The Devils took a 2-1 lead early in the second, but the Senators scored twice while killing the same penalty to take a 3-2 lead late into the third. However, Kyle Palmieri tied the game at three with less than four minutes to go and the Devils scored the only two goals of the shootout and upset the hometown Sens.
All told, we dropped 1.25 units last night in the 1-2 effort.
Now, let’s turn our attention to a small two-game NHL schedule on Tuesday night.
Season Record: 82-71-1
Let’s check out this free NHL pick featuring the Senators vs. Sabres from the Keybank Center in Buffalo!
Senators vs. Sabres Betting Odds
- Senators (+165)
- Sabres (-190)
- Senators +1.5 (-150)
- Sabres -1.5 (+130)
- Over 6 (-115)
- Under 6 (-105)
Senators vs. Sabres NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these team’s before I get into my final pick!
The Senators’ loss last night was their 10th over their last 11 games and they failed to build off a 5-2 win over the Flames in their last game prior to the All-Star break.
However, even in that win the Senators were doubled up on the shot count (42-21) and last night’s loss came despite a 50-save effort from goaltender Marcus Hogberg.
Long story short, the Senators have been getting dominated of late and making things extremely difficult on their netminders in the process.
After surrendering 53 shots last night, the Senators have allowed at least 42 shots in three straight games and an average of 46 per game in that span.
Ottawa was actually a quality possession team at home earlier in the year, but those numbers have absolutely plummeted while they’ve been a poor possession team on the road all season long where they’ve gone just 5-14-4 on the season.
At 5v5 on the road, the Senators rank 27th with a 46.46% Corsi For%, 22nd with a 46.05% Scoring Chances For% and 20th with a 45.45% High-Danger Chances For%. These numbers have improved a little bit as the season has moved along, but are still very poor figures.
It’s also relative here to look at their recent possession numbers to indicate just how bad they’ve been of late.
Over their last four games, the Senators own a 40.43% Corsi For% (31st), 39.81% Scoring Chances For% (30th) and a 46.67% High-Danger Chances For% (24th).
They’ve lost three of those four games despite an eighth-ranked .934 5v5 Sv% from their goaltenders during that stretch.
The results show at both ends of the ice.
The Sens enter this one ranked 27th with 2.29 goals per game on the road this season where their power play sits 30th with a 10.3% mark.
Defensively, the Senators rank 29th with 3.79 goals against per game but also sport a respectable 17th-ranked 78.7% mark on the penalty kill.
After Hogberg turned aside 50 last night, it will be up to Craig Anderson to face the rubber in this one tonight.
Anderson has struggled to the tune of a 3.32 GAA and .897 Sv% on the season and has been torched on the road to the tune of a 3.74 GAA and .884 Sv% where he’s gone just 3-7-0 on the season.
After a strong month of December, Anderson has been lit up for a 4.97 GAA and .862 Sv% across four starts in the month of January.
The Sabres dropped a 2-1 decision in Nashville before getting a bye week leading into the All-Star break, but that loss actually snapped a three-game win streak and a stretch where they had won four of their previous six.
For Buffalo, every game from here on out is a playoff game as they sit 10 points out of a playoff spot with 33 games remaining on the schedule.
In other words, this one here tongiht is a must-win and they’ll get some help in attempting to do so as winger Jeff Skinner returns to the lineup after a 10-game absence due to an upper-body injury.
Although they were held to just one goal in Nashville, the Sabres averaged 4.33 goals per game over their three-game win streak and will look for Skinner to help the offense moving forward.
That Buffalo offense has actually been real good at home this season in averaging 3.43 goals per game – good for ninth league wide – while their 20.6% mark on the power play at home has slipped to 17th.
They’ve also been solid on the back end at Keybank this season, sitting tied for 13th with 2.78 goals against per game on the season while their 81.5% mark on the penalty kill at home is tied for 14th.
While they’ve been pretty good at both ends of the ice at home, that’s not to say they’re been a possession monster at home, either.
At 5v5 at home, the Sabres’ 48.99% Corsi For% ranks 24th, their 49.70% Scoring Chances For% ranks 21st and their 49.71% High-Danger Chances For% ranks 26th.
While poor, the Sabres’ advanced metrics are still far superior to their opponent tonight.
While they have the advantage in offense, defense and possession, you can add goaltending to that list as well.
Linus Ullmark will get the nod for the home side in this one and he’s been excellent of late as he’s taken a full-blown stranglehold on the starting gig in Buffalo.
The 26-year-old enters this one sporting a 2.70 GAA and .914 Sv% on the season to go along with a real nice 2.54 GAA and .918 Sv% across 15 outings on home ice.
Ullmark has been sensational of late, however, posting a 2.00 GAA and .932 Sv% after seven outings in the month of January, going 5-2-0 in the process.
Even in the loss in Nashville, Ullmark turned aside 35 of 37 shots and posted a .943 Sv%.
He’s allowed just six goals over his last four starts combined and two goals or fewer in six of his seven January starts.
If you couldn’t quite tell already, I’m siding with the home team in this one.
I took the Senators on the moneyline last night at home because the Devils were of the two teams in the NHL worse than they are while the Devils are a bad road team. It just didn’t work out.
However, this Senators team has been atrocious on the road and their recent stretch of being dominated in mostly all aspects of the game has me fully on board with the Sabres.
Buffalo has the advantage on offense, defense, possession and goaltending, not even to mention the home-ice advantage.
They’ve also won three of four, gone 33.3% on the power play over their last five and get a sniper in Skinner back for this one.
To me, there’s no choice but to take the Sabres to win this one on the puckline while any bet on the Senators in this one would be a blindfolded dart throw.