Kicking off Friday’s NHL slate is an Eastern Conference tilt with the Atlantic Division’s Buffalo Sabres hosting the Metropolitan Division’s New Jersey Devils.
Typically dominating this matchup, New Jersey has won six of the last eight meetings between these two clubs.
Will the Devils take care of business once again, or can the Sabres play spoiler on home ice? Find out in our free NHL picks and predictions for Devils vs. Sabres on Friday, March 24.
Devils vs Sabres best odds
Devils vs Sabres picks and predictions
After dropping four of their last five contests, now is the time to buy low on the New Jersey Devils. First of all, each of those four losses came against playoff teams with the exception of the Florida Panthers, who are just one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the last wild card spot.
One of the best two-way teams in the league and a Stanley Cup odds contender, the Devils rank in the Top 7 in both expected goals for per 60 minutes (xGF/60) and expected goals against per 60 minutes (xGA/60) at 5-on-5. Meanwhile, the Sabres rank in the bottom half of the league in both xGF/60 and xGA/60 at 5-on-5.
Not only does New Jersey possess the advantage in its two-way play, but it boasts the stronger goaltender as well. Vitek Vanecek is slated to start between the pipes for the Devils in this contest, and should be a good candidate to back.
Entering this matchup in good form, Vanecek is 2-1-1 with a .930 save percentage (SV%) and 1.96 goals against average (GAA) over his last four starts. With this strong recent play, Vanecek’s impressive season continues with a 29-8-4 record, .909 SV%, and 2.49 GAA.
Across the ice, goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is projected to start in the crease for Buffalo. While the young netminder is dealt a bad hand with the terrible defensive team in front of him, it has still been a difficult season nonetheless for Luukkonen.
Through 31 appearances in net, he possesses a .890 SV% and 3.62 GAA. Among starting goaltenders, Luukkonen ranks just 28th in goals saved above expected per 60 minutes (GSAx/60) at 5-on-5.
The Sabres’ greatest strength is their power play, which ranks fifth in the league this season. However, given that New Jersey can shut that down with their leaguewide seventh-best penalty kill, Buffalo could be in for a long night.
With the better offense, defense, goaltender, and coach, back the Devils to coast to a big victory against the Sabres.
My best bet: Devils –1.5 (+143 at BetRivers)
Looking to do some NHL betting? Here are two of the best bonuses* available:
A) New users at FanDuel can get a no-sweat first bet up to $1,000! Sign Up Now
B) New users at DraftKings can bet $5 and get $200 in bonus bets! Sign Up Now
*Eligible USA locations only. Also, check out our full list of best sportsbook promotions for 2023.
21+. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER
Devils vs Sabres moneyline analysis
Vanecek’s strong play in net is likely to continue against Buffalo, a team he typically dominates. Through nine career starts against the Sabres, Vanecek is 7-1-1 with a .925 SV% and 2.28 GAA.
If you are going to back New Jersey in this contest, the puck line at +143 is the direction to head instead of laying –175 on the moneyline. I mentioned earlier that the Devils have lost four of their last five games, but Buffalo enters this game in even worse form.
The Sabres have now lost 10 of their last 12 games, with six of those losses coming by at least a two-goal margin. Meanwhile, each of New Jersey’s last three wins have come by at least a two-goal differential.
Laying the 75 cents of juice is not the worst decision to make for those who want a bit of protection, but I think the reward of +143 is worth taking a stab at the superior team to win this game by at least two goals.
Devils vs Sabres Over/Under analysis
I would lean towards the Over in this contest, but do not feel confident one way or the other. Once again, the Sabres find themselves as one of the best Over teams in the league this year, which isn’t shocking given their roster construction.
Buffalo boasts a deep forward group that’s riddled with guys who are capable of putting up 30+ goals in a season. Headlining this group is superstar Tage Thompson, who now has 43 goals on the campaign.
However, the blue line is extremely leaky, and will be thin this game with the absence Mattias Samuelsson. On the other hand, New Jersey is an incredibly difficult team to take totals on because of its dominant two-way play.
The Devils are one of the best offensive and defensive teams in the league, which is why the O/U is nearly .500 for them this season.
Devils vs Sabres betting trend to know
The Sabres have lost 10 of their last 12 games, with six of those losses coming by at least a two-goal differential. Find more NHL betting trends for Devils vs Sabres.
Devils vs Sabres game info
|Location:||KeyBank Center, Buffalo, NY|
|Date:||Friday, March 24, 2023|
|Puck drop:||7:00 p.m. ET|