Two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference to miss the playoffs play tonight as the Buffalo Sabres host the Ottawa Senators. It is time to continue our NHL odds series with a Senators-Sabres prediction, pick, and how to watch.
The Senators come into the match winners of two straight games. The two wins are against playoff-bound teams in the Lightning and Hurricanes, and they have played well in their last four, going 2-1-1. They are outshooting teams, and playing like a playoff-caliber team, but will miss the playoffs sixth year in a row. the Sabres have not made the playoffs since the 2010-11 season, and will not again this year. A stretch that saw them go 2-8-2 from the end of February into March took a team that looked like they were set to break their playoff drought to elimination. Now the Senators play their final game of the regular season, as the Sabres still have one more at Columbus tomorrow.
Here are the Senators-Sabres NHL odds, courtesy of FanDuel
NHL Odds: Senators-Sabres Odds
Ottawa Senators: +1.5 (-205)
Buffalo Sabres: -1.5 (+168)
Over: 6.5 (-164)
Under: 6.5 (+134)
How To Watch Senators vs. Sabres
Time: 7:00 PM ET/ 4:00 PM PT
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Why The Sentaors Could Cover The Spread
The Senators will be missing guys in this one, especially on defense. Thomas Chabot, Travis Harmonic, and Jakob Chychrun are all out for the game and give the defense major holes they need to fill. To avoid the glaring holes, the Senators have been pushing hard on offense, and shooting the puck a ton. In the last three games, they have shot the puck 130 times, including a 58-shot output against the Florida Panthers. They have scored 12 goals off of those 130 shots and won two games. They have controlled the game with Corsi percentages above 55% in two of them as well. Tim Stutzle has been a big part of the production and has a goal and three assists in the three-game stretch. Brady Tkachuk has added three assists as well. Overall, there has been offensive production, but still, the missing defenders showed.
Ultimately, the Senators still showed some weakness in this recent span of games. the penalty kill, which has ranked 12th on the season, has been bad. They have given up seven power-play goals in 16 chances in the last three games. They have given up Power Play goals in 13 of their last 16 contests, and this is a major issue. Considering that Ottawa leads the league in penalty minutes, either they need to find a way to kill off the penalties, or just not take them in the first place.
Mads Sogaard will get the final start of the season for the Senators tonight. His last time out was wonderful, stopping 27 of 29 shots, for a .931 save percentage and the win. The time before that was a struggle. While the offense was ripping 58 shots, he gave up four goals on 18 shots and was pulled against the Florida Panthers. Overall on the season, he had a save percentage of .889 but has seen that over .930 in four of his last six games.
Why The Sabres Could Cover The Spread
The Buffalo Sabres' playoff drought will continue this year, as they now own the longest active streak of missing the playoffs in the NHL. They are tied with the New York Jets for the longest streak in the four major professional leagues in the United States. Inconsistency has plagued this year on year. They are ranked fourth in the NHL in goals per game this year at 3.55 goals per outing.
While that is a great number, it is done in spurts. In the 20 games since March 1st, they have scored two or fewer goals in eight of them. Conversely, they have scored four or more seven times. The Sabres have been hit or miss on offense and that starts with their star player Tage Thompson. He has a recent streak of eight games without a goal, yet he also has four hat-tricks on the season, including a five-goal game.
Buffalo is also one of the worst at keeping the puck out of the net. On the season they average 3.65 goals per game against them. That total ranks them 25th in the NHL this season. Power play situations also show that contrast. The Sabres are 8th in the NHL in scoring on the power play, with a success rate of over 23%. Meanwhile, they are 28th in the NHL at killing the man advantage, only killing off 73%.
The Sabres are expected to start Devon Levi in their final game of the year. Levi is showing signs of being a quality goaltender recently. Since getting his first start in March, he is 4-2 and has a save percentage of .903. He has four games in which the percentage is over .910, but also one below .820. Levi is attempting to show he is the future for Buffalo, and can with another quality performance tonight.
Final Senators-Sabres Prediction & Pick
Tonight's game will come down to the power play. The Sabres are bad at killing off power play opportunities. The Senators take the most penalties in the NHL, and Buffalo can score on the power play. The Senators' recent performances have shown they are struggling to kill off penalties. If the Senators take too many penalties tonight, they will get scored on. Devon Levi is exciting. The young goaltender has shown a lot of promise. He ends the season on a high note, as Buffalo scored on the power play, and gets the win.
Final Senators-Sabres Prediction & Pick: Sabres -1.5 (+168)